Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Easy as Applesauce

For those of you who live  in the New York metropolitan area, or who frequent the farmer's market wherever you may dwell, perhaps you can sympathize with the flustered feeling I get when I'm wandering through the apple bins at the Union Square greenmarket and realizing I want to buy them all!  Each different apple variety I find, from the deep purple Winesap to the friendly green Mutzu, promises to pack the sweetest, juiciest, crispest punch.  What is an apple-obsessed girl to do?

Well, make applesauce, of course!  The best applesauce is, obviously, homemade, and is made from a variety of different apples of the sweetest variety (tart just doesn't work here, so steer clear of the Granny Smiths).  Using one kind of apple to make homemade applesauce results in a rather dull condiment, like a song comprised of a single note.  What we're looking for is more of a symphony of varying notes and tones.

So, next time you're faced with a moment of apple indecision, just grab one of each and head to the kitchen!

Simplest Applesauce
(printable recipe)
makes about one quart

Note: If you intend to make your applesauce with a potato masher, you'll need to first peel the apples before cooking them.

8 sweet apples, each a different variety
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup water

To begin, cut each apple into four, through the core, and use a small paring knife to cut out the sliver of core from each slice.  Then cut each apple quarter in half, leaving you with eight pieces per apple.

Put the apple pieces into a large, thick-bottomed saucepan, add the cinnamon and water, and cook on medium-high heat, covered, until it comes to a boil.  Turn the heat down to low, remove the cover, and cook for another 20-30 minutes, stirring frequently, until a chunky sauce already begins to form.  Turn off the flame and proceed with one of the following three steps:

1) In small batches, transfer the apples carefully to the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, and process for a few seconds until completely smooth.
2) In small batches, run the apples through a hand-crank food mill into a large bowl underneath.  Discard the strained-out solids as you go.
3) Using a hand blender, blend the apples in the same pot until the sauce is completely smooth.

Enjoy immediately, as a snack, dessert, or alongside a meat entree such as pork chops.  Or, once cooled, store in airtight plastic containers, in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, or in indefinitely in the freezer.

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