Fall is my favorite season for all of the boring reasons. I love being warm and snuggly, I would have the smell of mulling spices glued to my lip if it didn’t look like a weird mustache, and I am head over heels for squash, brussels sprouts, and cranberries. But the real clincher for me, when I know fall is creeping up like the monster in LOST, is when I begin to see the gradual shift in produce. Golden summer stone fruit is slowly replaced by hills of apples. The red to green to yellow spectrum of repetitive orbs gleam so bright I can practically see my euphoric, hearts-instead-of-eyes face in them, and they indicate to me that fall has arrived.
I spent a very fond time of my life residing in the apple heaven that is Boston, where I discovered my favorite fruit in the history of the world, the honeycrisp apple. Have you not tasted one? Please go do so immediately. Or don’t, because once you do, your apple life will be ruined forever. The steep $3.49/pound price tag is the only downside to this earthly delight. Eve must have eaten a honeycrisp and I don’t blame her at all. She was seduced! IMHO, honeycrisps should only be eaten cold and crisp, perhaps with a little shower of lemon and cinnamon or a good quality nut butter. Maaaaybe in salads. But always raw. Biting into a worthy version of this apple combats the crunch of a million potato chips and Old-Faithful-like showerings of delicious apple juice.
My experience with the honeycrisp makes me realize how subpar other apples can be. I’m not saying that there aren’t other delicious, crispy varieties out there that can be eaten raw. There certainly are. I’m talking about the grainy, mealy, horribleness that we’ve all gone through; that can steer clear from me for the rest of my life, unless, of course, this applesauce is made with them. Because it doesn’t matter what type of apples you use here. It doesn’t matter how bad they suck or if they’re totally inedible in their raw form. It doesn’t matter if they’re old. Well, to an extent. I’ll draw the line at moldy. This method of making them is a true apple life-saver and a wonderful gift. To yourself and to others.
Just like fall is.
Notes: I hesitate to specify quantities here because you can use this method with any amount of of apples, really. I’ve made it with one lonely apple and I’ve made it with forty of them. The way we make the applesauce is crucial, and it’s always the same.
I hesitate to use amazing, fresh apples in this recipe. Unless you’ve just gone apple picking and have 87 extra pounds of apples. You definitely can, but I believe a REALLY good apple is fine by itself. An applesauce made out of it would obviously be amazing as well. This works for any and all, but I use it mainly as a life-saver.
This applesauce is entirely sugar free and I’ve had people tell me it’s the best thing they’ve ever tasted. Contrary to popular belief, applesauce does not need any sugar at all. The peels are also left on. The ease of this recipe makes me giddy.
As you can see in the above photos, this applesauce recipes is easily mixed with other fruits. I’ve done apricots and peaches. I’ve even done pumpkin and butternut squash. It’s up to you!
Apples, any kind or amount
Lemon juice, about 1 tablespoon per pound of apples
Butter or ghee, to finish
Other spices such as ginger, nutmeg, allspice, or pumpkin pie spice, optional
Gather your apples and wash them WELL. Cut them into uniform pieces, discarding the core. Keep the peels on. Yes, peels on. The size of the pieces doesn’t matter as much as the uniformity.
In a stockpot that will comfortably fit all your apples, place all your apples, lemon juice, cinnamon stick, and a hefty pinch of salt. Turn the heat to medium, and cover the pot. Don’t worry about there not being much liquid in there if any, the apples will release the liquid themselves. They’re so nice.
Let the apples cook undisturbed for about 30 minutes to an hour, until they are totally fall-apart soft and formless. At this point, they will have released A LOT of moisture and the mixture will be bubbling gently, like where I imagine swamp-thing lurks.
Uncover the pot and remove the cinnamon stick. Turn the heat to high, and let the mixture come to a rip-roaring boil. Stir the apples around and let it boil for a few minutes longer. Stir and boil until most of the water has evaporated and the apples have reached a jammy-ish consistency and they’re caramelized. Remove from the heat.
Let the mixture cool down a bit, then either mash it up with a potato masher (if you like it chunky) or puree it with an immersion blender, blender, or food processor. Add butter or ghee to taste. I usually add just a few tablespoons, but sometimes, it doesn’t need any at all. It just adds an extra level of luxury. Add other spices if you want to. Eat immediately, or keep it refrigerated in an airtight container for up to a week.
I think it’s best eaten warm, with an extra slab of butter and crunchy salt. YUM.
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