october 15, 2013
The heady perfume of Virginia apples at my local roadside stand draws me in, and I load up my box with way more than I can use in a week. What’s a cook to do? Well, cook ’em up, of course.
And the simplest apple recipe of all is homemade applesauce, today with the kick of cinnamon and freshly grated ginger. You’ve been eating applesauce all your life, most likely from a jar or convenient single serving cup. Homemade applesauce is another thing entirely, from just-picked apples and a natural sweet-tartness that transcends the commercial.
Making your own applesauce is easy and the technique allows for variation in texture (chunky or super smooth) and flavor (sweet or not too, cinnamon, dried cranberries or other fruits, fresh ginger, vanilla bean seeds). It presents a wonderful bonding opportunity with the young cooks in the family, from learning how to peel and core apples, to smushing the bubbling mixture as it simmers , to proudly presenting and then savoring something made with love in the family kitchen.
My favorite apple these days for eating out of hand as well as cooking is the Piney River Gold variety at Pole Green Produce, soon to be replaced by a rolling show of Virginia apples as they become ripe for picking : Grimes Golden, Rome Beauty, Pippin and others. Find it in your hearts to rescue the homely apples with lumps and bumps, as they will be cooked into submission and no one will notice their appearance. Our ideal of supermarket perfection must be retired, anyway, as the push for local and sustainable produce has no room for flashy looks that come from a plethora of chemicals.
Choose a single variety or a mixture or apples, and keep in mind that natural sweetness levels, as well as your own taste, will determine how much sugar or other sweeteners you add to the mix. Applesauce is a good keeper in the fridge, lasting up to one month as long as you use a clean spoon for portion removal. It will also freeze for a rainy day. My ginger cinnamon applesauce would be a good partner for savory foods such as grilled goat cheese sandwiches with spicy apple chutney, chorizo sausage with lentils and tomato and chicken with wild mushrooms and carrot. I would be happy to see it at the breakfast table as a topping for Greek yogurt, or on the side with my breakfast tostadas.
ginger cinnamon applesauce
recipe by Michele Humlan, The Good Eats Company
makes 5 cups, 6-8 servings
- Add apples, salt, ginger and 5 T sugar to large heavy two quart saucepan with 3 cups water.
- Bring mixture to full boil, then simmer uncovered over low heat, occasionally using potato masher to keep mixture smooth, about 30 minutes, adding more water a little at a time if the applesauce appears too thick for your taste (keep in mind that it will thicken after refrigeration, but if you add too much, just increase the heat slightly to evaporate extra liquid).
- After about 20 minutes of cook time, either use the masher more vigorously for a smooth texture, or back off if you like your applesauce chunky.
- Add cinnamon, stir well, then add sugar to taste before removing from heat and allowing to cool at room temperature.
- Pack completely cooled applesauce into storage containers and refrigerate up to one month or freeze. Be sure to use a clean spoon for portion removal to avoid contamination.