Thursday, November 3, 2011

An Ode to my Great Grandma and Applesauce

As a kid whenever my family visited my great grandma Murphy's house in Indiana she always made a feast.  It didn't matter when we visited, there would always be a spread on the table and everyone remotely related to us gathered around.  One dish that she would make that I adored can't really be thought of as a "dish".  It was homemade applesauce.  It was incredible.

I remember eating it hot.  It was sweet and chunky and I never had anything like it before.  Sometimes I wish really hard that I could remember those days better, visiting with my great grandma in her kitchen.  But I was young and more concerned with playing hide-and-seek with my cousins and exploring the edges of her yard that opened up to a field.

So when I first made applesauce it took me back to those days in my grandma's house and those faint memories I have of her cooking.  I served it to Andy hot, the way I remembered, and he wasn't impressed.  Perhaps my grandma gave me the hot applesauce as a taste test to see if it needed more sugar.  Even if that's not how I ate it as a kid, I still can't help myself scooping the fresh, hot leftovers out of the pan.

Applesauce it incredibly easy to make from scratch.  I was surprised how easy it is.  Most of the work
comes from peeling and slicing, so it helps to have good tools for that.  The key to making delicious applesauce is to use delicious apples that are right for sauce making.  In these pictures I used Jonagold apples and they were fantastic and really sweet.  I added barely any sugar.  My batch after I used a different variety and the sauce wasn't nearly as sweet and the apples didn't breakdown well into sauce.  Applesauce apples will breakdown really easily, other apples, which would be better in pies maintain their shape.

There are lots of places to look online for which apples are best to use.  I can never remember them, so I rely on vendors at the farmer's market or orchard to help me out.  If I'm on my own at the grocery store, I usually end up with the wrong kind of apples.

My applesauce recipe came from Cookwise, but really it's more of a technique than a recipe.  So I will give you the technique and you can take it from there.  Applesauce can either be made on the stove or in the microwave.  It takes less time to cook in the microwave, but I've been doing it on the stove recently since we don't have a microwave and it's quite easy.

Applesauce Technique

Peel, core and slice about 5 apples.  You can use more or less depending on the size of pot or microwave-safe dish you're using.

Microwave: place all your apple chunks in the dish, cover it with plastic wrap and cook on high for about 10 minutes.  When removing the plastic wrap open away from your face because a lot of steam will come out.

Stove top: place all your apple chunks into a pot, add about 3 tablespoons of water (this doesn't need to be exact) and cook on medium for about 2 minutes.  Stir occasionally and you can watch the apples slowly become sauce!

When the apples are soft mash with a potato masher until you get the consistency you want (if you've gotten pie apples then run them through a food processor to get a smooth sauce).  This is where you can add a little salt (1/2 tsp), brown sugar or cinnamon to taste.  I find that I don't like as much sugar as most recipes call for because the apples are sweet enough.  Also, Andy doesn't like cinnamon in his applesauce so I just top my portions with it and leave Andy's plain.

Voila!  You have applesauce that is wonderful, chock full of memories and is a really easy step to making food from scratch.

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