I am lucky enough to live in a town with a thriving farmer’s market. It is open every Saturday from spring through late fall.
There is everything from truckloads of fruits and vegetables:
To lovely flowers:
To rows of coffee shops and bakeries:
But my favorite thing to buy at our farmer’s market is applesauce apples. If I get there during the right weekends(late June/early July), I buy as many Lodi apples as my arms can carry!
Grandma Skromme, 101 years old!
I learned to make applesauce from my Grandma Skromme. For most of my childhood she and my grandpa had an apple orchard on the other side of their swimming pool. Maybe someday I will tell you about the skinny-dipping we did after dark, no lights, with Grandma sitting in her lawn chair making me, my sisters, and my cousins call out our assigned numbers to make sure we were all still ok!
Grandma swears by Lodi apples. They are tart, but have more flavor than Granny Smiths. The problem is finding them…grocery stores don’t carry them and if you miss the harvest at market or the orchards you are out of luck! This year I did not make it to the market until this last weekend. When I asked the family who grows my apples for me if I was too late for Lodi they confirmed I had missed the harvest. BUT….they had Earligold apples, which the oldest son assured me would be similar to Lodi. I took him at his word, and I am glad I did!
I started using my Instant Pot last year for applesauce. It is quick and less of a mess. If you don’t have an Instant Pot you can do this on the stovetop easily enough.
I also use a cone-shaped strainer that I inherited from my stapdad’s mom. It works like a food mill This means that I don’t have to peel or core the apples…all the yucky stuff gets left behind. If you don’t have a food mill you can core and peel the apples and the sauce will still taste great!
Did you notice my daughter in the food mill picture and the iPod in this picture? Applesauce is a great way to get kids involved in the kitchen and off their electronics! If they are old enough to use a sharp knife, they can help quarter the apples. If they aren’t ready for that, let the apples cool a little after cooking and have them help with the mashing!
Now to reveal the secret ingredient…my girls would insist that all men close their eyes during this paragraph…it is supposed to be a girls-only secret! My grandma always added butter to her applesauce, similar to French applesauce, which is made with butter and vanilla. It smooths out the applesauce and adds a subtle richness to the applesauce that makes a huge difference!
After the applesauce is done I put it in freezer bags to keep in my freezer. It’s easier than canning it, and if you lay it flat to freeze you can set it on end in a freezer bin so it doesn’t take up much room!
Here is the first batch of applesauce, about fifteen cups! I made two more batches after this…we should be set for the winter. From a nutrition standpoint, this applesauce is closer to a healthy dessert than a serving of fruit. Or you can use it as a condiment as my Grandma did, toasting freezer waffles for us and putting cottage cheese and applesauce on top…don’t knock it until you try it! Feel free to cut this recipe in half if you don’t have a lot of freezer space.
Instant Pot Applesauce:
14 c quartered tart apples, peeled and cored if you do not have a food mill.
1/2 c water
1- 1 1/2 c granulated sugar
1 t salt
1/2-1 t cinnamon, to taste
3 T butter, cut into 3 pieces(shhhhh…it’s a secret!)
If using an Instant Pot, put apples and water in the Pot, making sure they don’t go above the max line. Lock the lid on and set the Pot for 10 minutes at high pressure. When the timer beeps, use the quick release to let the pressure out(be careful, it may spit a little bit).
If using the stovetop, get a BIG pot that will hold the apples easily or two sort-of big pots and split the apples in two. Put the apples and water into the pot and simmer on medium, stirring frequently so the bottom doesn’t burn. As soon as the apples get mushy you are ready to go!
With a food mill, place the mushy apples in the mill and process into a big bowl. If using a potato masher, let the apples cool a little and mash them in the big bowl. Homemade applesauce is a little thinner than store-bought, so don’t be surprised if it looks a little runny. Stir in the teaspoon of salt and the sugar, a half cup at a time, tasting to make sure that you need to add more. Mix in the cinnamon and the butter until the butter melts. Try not to eat it all while you are “tasting!”
I used quart-sized bags and put 3 cups of applesauce in each one, using a heavy glass to hold the bags for me. Seal carefully and place flat in the freezer.
Enjoy this treat at the holidays, or just for breakfast. Just remember your portion control…a half cup is plenty for dessert!