Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sundays with Sparky: Save the Apples! Spiced Applesauce


001Keeping ahead of your produce can be a full-time job. It's often cheaper to buy food in bulk, but since Sparky is one of those kids who refuses to eat apples that aren't perfect...a week or so after I've bought them, they wind up abandoned in the fruit bowl looking like this:

Fortunately for us, apples are cheap, and even those that have become unfashionably bumpy make terrific applesauce.

There are two schools of thought when it comes to homemade applesauce: the lazy school (my preference) which just cuts apples in half, cooks them until they fall apart, and strains the cooked apples to remove seeds and skins. In addition to being no-peel, this method takes advantage of the natural pectin in the skins and near the seeds, and makes a thick, silky applesauce. The second school of thought prefers velvety chunks in their applesauce. This requires peeling and coring the apples, cooking them in large pieces and letting them slowly fall apart naturally, and makes a juicy applesauce.

005I decided to teach Sparky both methods simultaneously and get the best of both worlds, so after a Fruit-Ninja-style removal of the bad parts, he peeled and cored the apples

008 (my favorite coring method: cut the 4 faces off each apple and leave a small rectangle with the core in it.)

011We put the cores and peels into one pot, and the peeled apple chunks into another along with a four allspice berries and a couple of bay leaves (Sparky adds cinnamon to taste when he eats it, you can also add a cinnamon stick during cooking.) We added a slosh of apple cider (water is fine) to each pot to keep the bottom from burning.

Sparky turned the heat to high until the liquid was boiling, then covered the pots and reduced the heat to medium-low heat for a total of about 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so. The apple chunks released a lot of juice, so every so often we drained it into the pot with the cores and peels to help them cook faster.

015After the apple chunks were fork-tender, we increased the temperature of the cores and peels and allowed them to caramelize slightly (when you do this, you'll see how much better the juice thickens with cores and peels) and then we scraped them through a sieve directly into the pot of apple chunks, discarding the peels and seeds that were left behind.

021Sparky then used a spatula to mix the two sauces together, lightly mashing the chunks as it bubbled together until we had a beautiful, silky, chunky applesauce.  Mmmm.

Serve warm or cold, with cinnamon or without; I can't imagine autumn without it! Enjoy!


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