Mixed Greens Blog

Mixed Greens Blog
Living Sustainably in the Pacific Northwest


Got Apples? Make Applesauce

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Learning to use and love the Yellow Transparent apples from the tree we inherited in our garden has taken me a long time. Year after year this old, gnarled tree produces many more apples than we can consume. Most are left on the ground for the critters living in our garden and others are carted to the compost pile. This year, I vowed to find the best use of these slightly sour and decidedly mushy apples.

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I gave our apples this simple test recommended by Alice Waters. “Cut a half-inch-thick wedge out of the apple, peel it, and put it in a saucepan with just enough water to cover it. Bring the water to a boil and then simmer until the apple is tender. Probe to see if it holds its shape or turns mushy”. Yes, I’m sorry to say, in just a few short minutes, our apples were judged unworthy of a tarte Tatin or even a homely apple pie. Applesauce seemed like the way to go.

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Not that I’m a huge fan of applesauce but this version had such a smooth velvety texture and a tart appley flavor that I immediately wanted to pan-fry some pork chops to complete the vision. Best of all, it is easy to make. I started by juicing some of the apples to use as liquid in the sauce — pulling out the Champion juicer , I got to work.

applesauce34 of 70 I followed Alice Water’s recipe in Chez Panisse Fruit. You’ll need enough juice for 1/2 inch in the saucepan you’ll use to cook the apples. I removed some of the foam that comes from juicing, but in applesauce, it all cooks down anyway, so it isn’t necessary. I’m just in the habit of “skimming off the foam”. If you don’t have a juicer, Rockridge Orchards sells some excellent cider at several of the local farmers markets.

Quarter and core your apples. No need to peel, especially if you plan to put it through a food mill. If you have large apples, cut into 1/2 inch chunks. Place apples in a saucepan with 1/2 inch apple juice or cider. Cover and simmer over medium heat for 20 to 30 minutes or until the apples are cooked and soft. For a smooth texture, pass through a food mill. This will remove the skins.

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I didn’t add sugar, lemon juice or spices but feel free to “doctor it up” anyway you like. Even if there isn’t a baby in the house, this applesauce is a real treat and your apple tree will certainly feel appreciated.

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4 Responses »

  1. We’re still working though a batch of Transparent sauce made in ’04–a very large batch. Though not highly original, I’m partial to the grilled pork chop with a side of ‘sauce in the summertime. Good action. The Alice Waters comment is, as always, a piece of wisdom to store away; I might need to pick up a copy of the Chez P Cookbook, especially after reading Thomas McNamee’s biography (hagiography, to be honest) this week.

  2. I found that the one time I made applesauce with Golden Transparents (from a derelict tree in a vacant lot) the applesauce separated a bit leaving about 3/4″ of clear liquid at the bottom of the jar. I stirred it back in quickly before serving it to the family. Have you had that problem?

    I thought that they made a pretty good pie. Who says that your apples have to maintaing their shape? Don’t cut them so thin or cook it for as long. The tart taste of the apples is what they like in the pie. Ok, some people like the crust too!

    I envy you, I’ve been whining for years for an apple tree. I had to wait until the last wind storm blew over a bunch of trees in the yard so maybe soon?

  3. Ellen, I haven’t had a problem with separation but I’m sure stirring it back in is fine. Maybe I need to try a pie again, it seems like the apples vary from year to year — some years mushier than others. But I have to admit, I do like the crust too.

  4. I am searching for identification of the different apple sort I found on our property. This one seems quiet alike ours. The apples are pretty tart when I tried them raw. Isn’t that true? I just picked a hole basket full. Now I have to decide what to do with them.