Thursday, January 10, 2008

When Life Hands You Dented Apples, Make Apple Sauce

My local market recently had a sale on apples. Since it's well past apple picking season, I decided to stock up. I spent 10 minutes carefully selecting the most perfectly shaped, shiny Macs, Rome Beauties, and Pink Ladies I could find.

I gently placed my bags of apples on the conveyor belt at the checkout. As I continued to unload my remaining groceries, from the corner of my eye I saw my apples disappear from the belt: blam! onto the scale, then blam! into the grocery bag. Before I could utter a word, it was too late. My previously pristine apples were irrevocably spotted with unsightly blemishes.

Rather than trying to eat around the bruises, I did what any resourceful food blogger would do: I made apple sauce. Homemade apple sauce is infinitely better than bottled. With no additives or preservatives, it's healthier too. Plus when you make it, your entire house smells like freshly baked apple pie; that's reason enough to not buy the bottled kind.

Though I love to eat apple sauce on its own, it's surprisingly delicious with other foods. I've become excited about getting up in the morning since I began swirling apple sauce, dates, and walnuts into my oatmeal.

I love butternut squash simply roasted, but I really love it filled with homemade apple sauce, toasted pecans, and ground cinnamon and nutmeg.

How I make homemade apple sauce:
  • I use sweet, juicy, meaty apples such as Rome Beauties or McIntosh. Though I love tart and tangy Granny Smiths and Pink Ladies for eating apples, I wouldn't recommend them for apple sauce.
  • Like Jeff's mom, Dorothy of Dorothy's Broccoli Pasta and Italian Almond Biscotti, I leave the skin on one or two apples to impart a warm reddish color to the sauce. If you don't like the texture of the skin, you can remove it before serving or puree the sauce until it dissolves.
  • For a basic apple sauce, I use apples, water, sugar, and cinnamon. For variety, I sometimes add a splash of fresh lemon juice or some ground nutmeg, ginger, or cloves; golden raisins and dried or fresh cranberries are wonderful add-ins too. And who could argue with pouring some pure maple syrup or honey in for added sweetness?

Homemade Apple Sauce
Yields 5 cups, cooked
Print recipe only here.

8 McIntosh or Rome Beauty apples (about 8 cups), peeled and chopped
3 cups water
2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 Tbsp ground cinnamon

Place chopped apples in a deep pot. Add water, sugar, and cinnamon. Bring to a boil for 10 minutes, or until the apples begin to break down. Lower to a simmer and cook 15-20 minutes, or until the apples are completely soft. Stir well with a spoon until a thick sauce forms.

Leave a few lumps and bumps in it or puree it in a blender for a smooth finish. Make sure to let it cool first before pouring it the blender! Otherwise it will blow the cover off. Not that it has happened to me.

Let the sauce cool before serving.

You might also like my:
Torta di Mele (Apple Cake)
Warm Citrus and Banana Cups
Baked Yams with a Citrus Glaze and Toasted Pecans

More about apple sauce from Marisa of Slashfood.
Try a delicious recipe for Latkes with Apple Sauce created by the Iron Chef, Mario Batale, and posted on Serious Eats.

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