It is not apple season in these parts. During the crystalline fall days in New England, when the sky is the blue of the eponymous Crayola crayon (sorry, I just really wanted to use the word eponymous) and the leaves are so colorful it seems like they’re just showing off, then there is quite possibly no better place in the world to get apples. At that time of year I gorge myself on dozens of varieties from farmer’s market stalls and local orchards. I just can’t get enough. I have kind of a thing for apples. Especially cut into exactly four pieces. Don’t ask. One of the best days of my life was when I visited a variety grove for one of my agriculture classes – hundreds of obscure varieties of apples, and we were allowed to taste as many as we liked. I almost missed the bus back home, I wandered so deeply into the expanse of the orchard.
Anyway, this is all getting back to the fact that, right now it is not apple season, unless you are in the southern hemisphere. I generally feel guilty about buying apples shipped from New Zealand, so I try to do the seasonal thing, but sometimes I succumb to the desire for an apple (I identify with Eve in the garden of Eden, but more for wanting to eat the fruit, less for wanting the knowledge) and I buy some local storage apples, that have been waiting out the winter in dark crates. They’re almost always bruised and kind of mealy. The ones I just got certainly were. But even if your apples are mealy, all is not lost. It makes for a perfect excuse to make applesauce!
Applesauce is quite simple to make, takes no measuring whatsoever, and is fairly low labor, especially if you like applesauce with the peels. I used to make it as an activity with kids. But, I make it even more often for myself. I went through a phase where I used to eat homemade applesauce with toasted walnuts and a drizzle of heavy cream for breakfast. Come to think of it, why on earth did I ever get out of that phase?
To make applesauce, just take your apples, however many you have to use up, cut them into quarters and remove the cores (peel them first if you’re not into peel in your applesauce, just know that I’m peering sternly and disapprovingly at you over horn rimmed glasses because the peels contain most of the nutrients (and, personally, I think they add flavor). Then chop the apples up into small chunks and put them in a large pot. Sprinkle with a few good shakes of cinnamon, if you like cinnamon, and a little ground ginger. Add a little squirt of lemon juice if you wish, to add a little tang to the sweetness, and just a teensy titch of water in the bottom of the pot to keep the apples at the bottom from burning as you’re first starting to cook them. Cover the pot, turn it to medium heat until it’s giving off steam, then turn it down to low, and let it cook, covered, until the apple pieces are soft and mushy. If it’s too soupy, let it cook uncovered for a while until it thickens. Use a wooden spoon or potato masher to mash up the cooked apples. Or for a very smooth sauce, whir it in a food processor once it’s cooled. Hmmm, I think I know what tomorrow’s breakfast will be.