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.
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.
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.
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.
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.