Photo by Judith Hausman
Because we eat them all winter, I buy apples only after the peaches and plums are done, but the first ones are still a celebration of that newly crisp air. So is easy applesauce, a great thing to make with kids. Whatever your preference in applesauce, the basics are the same: good apples cored and cut in chunks, the minimum of water and a short simmer. But then, to peel or not to peel is not the only question. Chunky or smooth? Sweetened or natural? Cinnamon? If you add brown sugar, cinnamon and cloves to the sauce and leave it to simmer longer, it will reduce to apple butter to spread on your toast. If you freeze some, in January you and the kids can transform it again into a simple applesauce cake or a dozen muffins.
Basic Applesauce Recipe
- apples (I like Pippins and Greenings, but their season is short and early here.)
- water (see variations below)
- sugar and/or lemon juice, to taste
Wash, core and quarter apples. It is not necessary to peel them, but if you then choose not to purée them, expect some bits of skin in the finished sauce. The color will also be lighter with peeled apples.
Simmer apple quarters until tender in about an inch of water. Purée them in a food processor or food mill, or simply mash them with a potato masher for a chunkier texture. Add sugar, cinnamon, cardammon, et cetera, if desired.
Applesauce freezes well, but remember to leave about 1/2 inch of head space in the container for expansion.
- Cook 2 cups cranberrries and 1 cups sugar (or less to taste) with 2 cups quartered apples.
- Cook 2 cups quartered Italian prune plums with 2 cups quartered apples.
- Cook apples in fruit tea, sauterne or apple cider and 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel.
- Add raisins and walnuts when the sauce is partially cooled.
- Add 1 teaspoon or more apple pie spice, Chinese five-spice powder or French quatre-epices to the apples.
- Mix slightly under-ripe pears and apples.
- Add 1 cup crushed pineapple and 1 teaspoon minced, candied ginger to the puréed sauce.
Tips for Cooking with Apples
Photo by Judith Hausman
Sprinkle cut apples with lemon juice to keep them from turning brown and to add flavor if late-in-the-season apples are a little tired.
Use a melon-baller to core apples for baking. Fill the hollow with raisins, brown sugar and cinnamon.
Choose drier, tarter green apples, such as Pippins, Greenings or Granny Smiths, for baking.
Apples add interest to salads. Add chopped apple to coleslaw or chicken salad. Lighten up a Waldorf-style salad with apple, fennel, grapes, walnuts, lemon juice and a little oil. Slice apples thinly around a small round of goat cheese; sprinkle with almonds.
To quarter an apple neatly, cut parallel just outside the core, instead of through the center of it. This way, you won’t have to trim the core out of each piece.