Cooking 101, Mom’s Applesauce
Leland is away this weekend and has left me holding the fort, blog-wise, with instructions not to “bail on him”. He may be sensing that my enthusiasm for the blog is beginning to wane, or should I say that interest in my real life is beginning to supersede interest in keeping up with posting on the blog. I so admire you folks who have been posting interesting and unique entries for years!
Tonight I’m writing about something I make several times a week during apple season – my own applesauce. For those of you to whom this is child’s play, I apologize, but I thought there might be a few readers who have never made it themselves. I even wonder if there are a few readers who have never eaten homemade applesauce, and may even think they don’t like applesauce and aren’t interested in learning how to make it for that reason.
One of the first times I ever cooked for my husband to be, I made pork and sauerkraut, with mashed potatoes and applesauce. He said “No, thank you” to the applesauce and I just looked at him, in consternation and disbelief. He went on to explain that he didn’t like it, and then I laughed and persuaded him to try some anyway. Well, readers, the rest is history as they say. He is now an applesauce pig, and in fact has quite a discriminating palate, able to identify sauce made with different varieties of apples.
My theory, and I could be wrong but it makes sense to me, is that the reason the canned and jarred grocery applesauce is so tasteless and horrible is that the same companies who produce it also produce apple juice, and first they squeeze all the juice out of the apples and sell it as juice, then the resulting tasteless pulp is reconstituted with sugar water and sold as applesauce. That’s why it tastes like sugary, watery, sawdust. I would say it belongs in the nursery and should stay there, but I’m a firm believer in the adage that you should never feed your children food that you wouldn’t eat yourself, so I don’t think store-bought applesauce even belongs in the nursery.
Making the applesauce couldn’t be easier. What you do is wash some apples, a nice mix is some Macintosh, Golden Delicious, and Galas mixed together, quarter them and put them in a heavy, non-reactive pot with a lid. Add a small amount of water or apple juice or cider, about 1/4 cup, and turn the stove on and bring the pot to a simmer. Cover and simmer on low heat, stirring from time to time, until all the apples are very soft and have basically turned to mush. Uncover and let the pot cool down a bit.
For the next part you need a food mill. I use a Foley food mill just like the one my mother always used when I was growing up, except mine is stainless steel. You can still find them in most kitchenware stores and they are not too expensive. Place the food mill over a large bowl, one that will hold it steady. Spoon the apple mush into the mill and turn it, pushing the pulp through the mill as you turn, once in awhile giving the crank a backward spin. Keep turning the mill until you really get all the pulp out of the apple skins and they look dry in the bottom of the mill; that’s what makes your sauce thick. You may need to scrape the sides of the food mill once or twice with a rubber spatula, and scrape the underneath part off at the very end. Taste the applesauce and put a little sugar in it if you think it’s not sweet enough; it may not need any. I always add a couple of shakes of cinnamon as well.
That paragraph of explanation took longer to type than it took me to actually make the applesauce, and sounds harder than it is. It didn’t even take me five minutes to make almost two quarts of delicious sauce tonight, and now I have it sitting in my refrigerator ready to accompany pork, or pancakes, pierogies, sausages, potato pancakes, or to make applesauce cake or muffins with; the list goes on and on!