Apple picking. We started in the near corner by the entrance, filling our peck size bag more than half way before we made our way up the hill to see the rest of the varieties. As we wandered over to the last two rows, up hill and kind of hidden we came around a row and gasped. My daughter said what I was thinking, “Oh my god they look like giant purple plums!” The trees full of royal court apples were quite literally the prettiest apple trees I’ve ever seen. If I were eve, I would have picked these too.
We filled up our bag and then another one, and left with two more bags to boot of ginger golds which had all been picked. That’s a lot of apples! So we headed home and set out to make apple sauce, because what else do you do with a bushel of apples??
If you’ve never made apple sauce, let me tell you it is easy. E to the Z. Especially if you have the right equipment. You can purchase a fancy grinder for your stand mixer or you can go the cheap route. Helllloooo cheap route. Get yourself a food mill -there’s one for every budget- and it makes apple sauce, tomato sauce and all sorts of kitchen projects MUCH easier. I used mine last week to make tomato leather in fact.
Anyway, applesauce. We took about 3/4 of our apples and cut them up, filling three large pots full. There is no need to peel, core or seed the apples. Which when you are making this much apple sauce is imperative. No way in hell was I peeling all of those.
There is no need for precision in cutting apples for apple sauce so it’s a great project for little helpers old enough to wield a knife, too new for precision chopping. Riley cut half the apples herself. Load it into pots, put in an inch of water*, cover and cook until soft. Once it is soft you put it through your food mill. This took a little juggling of bowls and pots and so on, but it still is a pretty easy task.
This was time consuming though. It took probably at least an hour to mill down the apples. But the milling process pushes the apple pulp through to your bowl leaving behind seeds, skin, stems and any other random hard bits so your prep work is easy. And frankly I’d rather run apples through the food mill than peel them.
And that my friends is apple sauce! Easy. At this point you can leave it be, add sugar or other sweetener and/or add cinnamon or any spice you like; such as this recipe for masala apple sauce. It can be kept in the fridge (for a few weeks) frozen, or canned. I, of course, canned mine. I got 7 1/2 quarts of sauce plus another three that I turned into apple butter. That’s from about 3/4 bushel.
I bet you are thinking “tell me more about apple butter.” Yo, if apple sauce is easy, apple butter is down right promiscuous. To turn your applesauce into butter just put it in a crock pot, prop open the lid with a wooden spoon and leave it for ever. I left mine go for 24 hours! It turned 3 quarts of sauce into 1 1/2 quarts of butter. When it’s thick and dark you add your sugar and spices to taste. I added cloves, sugar and cinnamon for a very traditional flavor profile, but the name comes from the consistency not the spices, so you could legitimately go with any spice/s you wanted.
Here is a link to good apple sauce and apple butter directions, but if you look around you will see they are pretty universal and yet flexible enough to accommodate your kitchen comfort level, equipment and taste.
*I way overshot the inch of water, so ended up with apples floating. I didn’t want runny apple sauce so I drained off most of the liquid. But I didn’t want to waste all that appley water, so I boiled it down (and zomg does the product taste good) and used it to make jam. You could also freeze it and use it to flavor and thicken jam without pectin.