10 November 2008

Apple harvest

Apples seem to be everywhere these days: at the market, in hands, sold on the street. Normally, I love apples, especially the heirlooms that come in a the market. I especially love apples that I pick myself at the orchard, but last time Jeff and I went apple picking there was a ten pound minimum. Apple picking is not to be taken lightly. Go with friends, I guess, is the answer to that. Crispy, sweet, flowery, and tart, apples are what make fall something to look forward to. (This is especially important when the last of the tomatoes are gone, *sob*.) I like apples pretty much in every capacity, too--apple pie, apple tart, apple butter, raw with some peanut butter for embellishment, plain, what have you. I just like apples.

But when the chill of fall rolls around, what I really think about is my Aunt Kathy's apple sauce. When I was little, she used to make jars and jars and jars of pink-hued, sweet and spicy applesauce that she would store in the basement and eat all year round. I loved her applesauce. (I think I loved it also because it had that most kitchy of ingredients, cinnamon red-hots, cooked into it, and man did I love red-hots back then.)

As an adult, I have learned that making my own applesauce is a snap, and so much better than the store-bought kind. I don't know if Kathy makes her version anymore, and I haven't had any for years, so I've had to resort to recreating the taste from memory. So far, what I have is different, but no less tasty. For the spicing, I add a cinnamon stick and a knob of ginger, and I usually add some grated nutmeg about half-way through the cooking process. Spicy-warm-delish. Promise.

Applesauce*, adapted from The Joy of Cooking

2 1/2 pounds various apples (I like ones that have a tart edge to them--that way, I can sweeten to my own taste. If you start with sweet ones, add about 1/2 a lemon's worth of juice to temper them out.)
1/2 cup water (or apple juice or cider, if you have any lying around
1 small cinnamon stick
1 1-inch knob of fresh ginger, peeled
sugar, to taste

Peel and core apples and throw into a large, heavy pot. Add water, cinnamon, and ginger. Simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until desired consistency. Taste and add sugar as desired. I like mine a little chunkier, so I don't cook it for as long.

* Please forgive the lack of photo! Mushy apples aren't terrible photogenic.

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