COVID is causing the return of bartering. This week I traded homemade applesauce for a slab of moussaka, that Russ and Deb had made. It was a time-consuming recipe they said. What’s more, it called for ground lamb, which is not readily available in these parts. (They got theirs at Soulard Market.)
Deb wrote back, telling me the applesauce sparked memories of her grandmother’s kitchen. “She made applesauce a few times a week,” Deb said. Come to think of it, so did my grandmother.
Ain’t Nobody Don’t Like Applesauce
But let’s talk about applesauce today, which is far easier to make than moussaka. Applesauce goes with everything and is inexpensive. The side dish works for everybody from toddlers to the digestive and dentally challenged. The smell brought to the kitchen is an extra bonus.
Chunk’em, Dunk’em, and Smash’em
Start with a mix of apples—I prefer the Jonathans, Jonagolds and a few Granny Smiths, but most any will do. Peel ‘em, or not, it works both ways. Cut them in chunks and place in a large pot with a bit of water (about a ½ inch, or so) to make sure they don’t stick.
Smack on the lid and let those puppies cook to a pulp. Mash the peeled apples and serve chunky or put them through a food press for a smooth sauce.
The biggest decision here is whether to leave the peel on the apples. Peel-on advocates like the pinkish color, shorter prep time, and the nutrients that come from the skins.
It takes longer to peel the apples, but you can mash them in the pot and serve the sauce chunky style or puree the cooked apples in a blender.
This time I cooked about 8 apples—I should have done more. I opted to chop and core the unpeeled fruit. Then I put the cooked apples through my “antique” food mill, an apparatus I was given as a wedding gift, because it was considered necessary for every well-appointed kitchen.
The Taste Test
When all is done, taste apples for seasoning. You can add sugar, cinnamon, and/or nutmeg, as you wish. Season a small portion of the sauce slightly as a test. Then taste, and adjust as needed. I’ve gone to using no seasonings, not even sugar. But that’s a matter of taste.
Here’s how simple it is to make a small batch of this timeless, tasty treat.
- 6-8 apples, Pink Lady, McIntosh, Gala, or Granny Smith (or a mixture)
- 1 tsp. sugar, or more, or to taste. (I leave out the sugar)
- A dash of cinnamon and/or nutmeg, optional
Peel (or leave unpeeled), core, and quarter apples. Place them in a pot with about an ½ inch, or so, of water. You can always add more, if needed.
Bring the apples to a boil, turn the heat down slightly, and simmer 30 minutes or until the fruit gets soft and thickens. Run thru a food mill to remove skins. Stir in the sugar and cinnamon, and/or nutmeg, if desired.