“Comfort me with apples, for I am sick of love.” The Song of Solomon
All right everyone, (takes a deep breath) here we go!
Up first from the list of 30: applesauce. I know…its not terribly exciting, but sometimes simple things are unexpectedly good. Well that and you like to have a victory early on.
After reading through a handful of different recipes, I decided to go with a really simple one from The Martha Stewart Cookbook (Crown Publishing, 1995). The recipe was simple and straightforward which seemed like the best bet for a final product that is, well, simple.
I used a mix of Braeburn and Pink Lady apples. Pink ladies of course being the wild apples of the produce world…stealing their parents cigarettes and chasing boys.
I chose two kinds of apples as recommended by several recipes. This is to make the sauce more balanced and complex. I used about 5 pounds of apples total.
The apples get quartered, seeded, and then tossed in a heavy pot with 1/3 cup of water and a couple tablespoons of lemon juice.
Cover the pot so the steam keeps breaking down the apples. Then cook and cook and cook. Make sure you stir every so often so that all the apples are being evenly cooked.
UNFORESEEN BONUS: every time you open the pot, you’ll be temporarily transported to a fall evening with a glass of hot apple cider in your hand. The smell of cooking apples is crisp and lusciously saturated with the smell of apples. Every time I lifted the heavy lid I found myself leaning down and breathing. Mmmmmmm…..cider.
So after you’ve breathed in the autumn, appley goodness, and after the apples are all very soft, remove them from the heat and let cool slightly. Now comes the fun part: you get to use a kitchen gadget! I heart kitchen gadgets! And I like to occasionally validate their presence by actually using them.
I used a food mill. It’s basically a type of grater in a bowl shape with a hand crank to force the food through. You can get them at any kitchen store…my mom bought me a vintage one years ago. They also are great for making mashed potatoes. Their only fault is that they have a spring like piece that screws on the bottom that is perpetually misplaced in our kitchen. This time, I found it in the dish strainer. Last time it was in the drawer with the coffee filters and foil. (shakes head) Who knows…
Anyway, the little feet fit on the edge of the bowl so you can grind the food right into a waiting receptacle. I had 1/4 cup of sugar and a dash of cinnamon in the bowl to add to the apples. Martha* says that sometimes she doesn’t even add sugar, I just used a small amount because I like sugar.
Now, stretch out your arm muscles…cuz this next part takes effort.
Grind the apples in batches through the food mill and into the waiting bowl. I didn’t peel my apples, so it took some work to get them all milled. I think I’m gripping that thing pretty damn hard in the photo based on that popping vein in my hand…good lord. And I’m a little embarrassed to admit, my arms are still sore.
You can also use a potato masher or even a fork to mash the apples, but I imagine you’d end up with a chunkier texture.
So all in all, it’s as straightforward a recipe as you can get. And applesauce isn’t exactly a rarity. I mean….you can buy it in single serve cups. So- the question I guess becomes whether the 90 minutes and the upper arm pain are worth making it yourself. According to the handsome husband taste tester, yes: its worth it.
The final product was a little bit tart and tasted more like an apple than a really sweetened sauce. And I think it was less watery than store bought applesauce.
Obviously it was pretty simple and with only a few ingredients, it seems really healthy. Which I promise is not something I will oft discuss on this blog. (the next recipe uses about 3 sticks of butter) In conclusion: I think that recipe 1 on the list of 30 was a great success.
And the house smelled like cider the whole night.
* Martha refers to Martha Stewart. We are on a first name basis, obvi.