My local market recently had a sale on apples. I spent 10 minutes carefully selecting the most perfectly shaped, shiny Macs, Rome Beauties and Pink Ladies I could find.
I gently placed my bags of apples on the conveyor belt at the checkout. As I continued to unload my remaining groceries, from the corner of my eye I saw my apples disappear from the belt: Blam! Onto the scale. Then blam! Into the grocery bag. Before I could utter a word, it was too late. My previously pristine apples were irrevocably spotted with unsightly blemishes.
Rather than trying to eat around the bruises, I did what any resourceful cook would do: I made applesauce. Homemade applesauce is infinitely better than bottled. With no additives or preservatives, it's healthier too. Plus, when you make it, your entire house smells like freshly baked apple pie; that's reason enough to not buy the bottled kind.
How I make homemade apple sauce:
--I use sweet, juicy, meaty apples such as Rome Beauties or McIntosh. Though I love tart and tangy Granny Smiths and Pink Ladies for eating apples, I wouldn't recommend them for apple sauce.
--I leave the skin on one or two apples to impart a warm reddish color to the sauce. If you don't like the texture of the skin, you can remove it before serving or puree the sauce until it dissolves.
--For a basic apple sauce, I use apples, water, sugar and cinnamon. For variety, I sometimes add a splash of fresh lemon juice or some ground nutmeg, ginger or cloves; golden raisins and dried or fresh cranberries are wonderful add-ins too. And who could argue with pouring some pure maple syrup or honey in for added sweetness?
Homemade Apple Sauce
Yields 5 cups, cooked.
8 McIntosh or Rome Beauty apples (about 8 cups), peeled and chopped
3 cups water
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
Place chopped apples in a deep pot. Add water, sugar and cinnamon. Bring to a boil for 10 minutes, or until the apples begin to break down. Lower to a simmer and cook 15-20 minutes, or until the apples are completely soft. Stir well with a spoon until a thick sauce forms.
Leave a few lumps and bumps in it, or puree it in a blender for a smooth finish. Make sure to let it cool first before pouring it the blender! Otherwise, it will blow the cover off. Not that it has happened to me.
Let the sauce cool before serving.
(Susan Russo is a freelance food writer in San Diego. She publishes stories, recipes, and photos on her cooking blog, Food Blogga. http://foodblogga.blogspot.com/. One for the Table is Amy Ephron's online magazine that specializes in food, politics, and love. http://www.oneforthetable.com)