I love this time of the year, when the weather starts to turn a little colder, and forces us indoors. I love the changing of seasons - it makes me feel creative, as there are so many different fresh food options with each season. In Washington, August through October is the season of bountiful apples, pears, plums, peaches, nectarines, and many other tree ripening fruits. I think that many people buy applesauce because, it’s less expensive at the stores, but even more than that, they don’t realize how easy it can be to make yourself. If you have apple farmers in your area, take a family trip and buy a box or two of apples, I think you will be surprised how much you will spend. The farmers in this area charge around $.40 a pound for seconds (perfectly edible apples that don’t look perfect so they can’t sell them in the stores, which are perfect for saucing). I love making applesauce because it makes the house smell delicious all day long. When I first started making applesauce a few years ago I had tried different recipes that all called for sugar. Every time I made the sauce I added less sugar until I realized, it doesn’t need any! This is such a simple recipe and such great apple flavor. I try to make it a fun event for the kids as well, they get to help me sauce the cooked apples and of course they get to taste the fruits of our labor!
- As many apples as you can fit in your Crockpot, quartered (the best sauce is made of 2-3 different kinds of apples, varying in sweetness)
- 1/4 cup water
- Dash of cinnamon to taste
- Wash and quarter apples, place in Crockpot.
- Add water and cinnamon. Cover and let cook on low for 8-10 hours or high for 5-6 hours.
- Towards the end I lift the lid and mash up a bit with a potato masher, that way I can see if it’s ready or not. It’s ready when the apples are very soft and mash easily with the masher, if there are still big chunks you need to cook the apples longer.
- When the apples are ready, ladle the cooked apples into a food mill and sauce the apples, leaving behind the apple peels and seeds. If you don’t have a food mill you can peel and core the apples and mash with a potato masher for a little chunkier sauce, but very pretty. Be creative with this, if you like more seasoning you can add some allspice or nutmeg, some people like to add sugar and lemon juice, I prefer less sugar.
- I always freeze my applesauce, it’s so easy. I just ladle the applesauce into quart freezer Ziplock bags and label, that’s it! You can thaw in the refrigerator or in warm water if you need it to thaw more quickly, then place the sauce in a jar (or freeze it right in the jar, leaving a 1/2 inch of room at the top for expansion.
Apples should be firm to the touch, free of bruising and punctures. They also should be relatively shiny. Dull-skinned apples are not as fresh and will not be crisp.
Store apples in the refrigerator, unless the apples will be eaten within 24 hours. In that case, they may be placed in a fruit bowl or basket and stored at room temperature.
Peel and/or slice apples just before serving since they will brown. You can also mix one part lemon or lime juice and three parts water and dip apple slices into the mixture. You can also keep apples fresh in a salad by adding them last and pouring orange juice or wine into the fruit bowl.
Everyone has a favorite apple recipe. This one is mine. Coming from Tennessee, my mother loved pork (pork chops, fried ham, fried slices of pork loin). She always fried up a pan of apples to eat with the pork. I also fry apples to serve with pork or potato pancakes.
- 3 apples
- 3 Tbls. butter
- Salt to taste, optional
Preparation: You can peel the apples if you wish. Core the apples and slice thinly. Melt the butter in a small iron skillet. Put the apples in and cook over low to medium heat, covered, for 10 minutes. Turn the apples so that they all have a chance to be basted in the butter. Cook the apples, without the lid, letting the slices caramelize in the butter. Watch carefully so that the slices do not burn. Some people just want the apples cooked through. Others, like myself, appreciate the caramelization on the apples.
There are many different varieties of apples available today. Some are old favorites and others are a bit more difficult to find.
Lady or Api apple. One of the oldest varieties, this apple dates from the first century A.D., but is not readily found in most supermarkets. Gourmet shops or fruit sellers in large cities often stock this sweetly tart apple. It is a small red or yellow apple with a red blush and is great for desserts and sauces. Because of their small size, Lady apples add a lovely touch to fruit baskets or are used as a garnish. They are available during the winter.
Apples have been enjoyed by human beings since at least 6500 BC. Small burnt apples have been found in archaeological sites around lakes in Switzerland. There are wild apples or crab apples found in most countries of Europe, including as far north as Norway. It is thought that the first apple trees originated somewhere between the Caspian and the Black Seas. The Wild Apple, native to Britain, is the ancestor of all modern apple trees. The Romans grafted their premium varieties, including some from France, onto this wild stock
Though small, bitter, wild Crab Apples were present in the New World when the Pilgrims came to America, they wrote home for seeds and cuttings from England. This established the early apple strains in New England. Later, colonists brought apple trees to plant in Virginia and throughout the Southeast.
Legend tells of a Massachusetts man, Johnny Chapman, who traveled throughout what was then the West (Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois) in the early 1800s, planting apple trees. There is also a tale of a London sea captain who brought seeds to Washington state in 1820 that are reputed to be the initial stock for the booming Washington State apple industry.
Nearly 8,000 varieties exist today, but only about 100 are grown commercially in this country. New varieties are being discovered as chance seedlings or intentional cross-breeding. Of the commercial crop, 61 percent are eaten fresh, 21 percent are made into juice or cider, and 39 percent are processed into a variety of apple products.
[Photo courtesy of the NY Apple Association]
The old adage, “An apple a day, keeps the doctor away,” may not be just something our grandmother’s told us. Apples, members of the rose family, are portable nutrition packages that are quite tasty.
Apples have been found to reduce the risk of stroke and Type II diabetes and to improve bowel function. Flavonoids, abundant in apples, help prevent the growth of prostate cancer cells, and phytochemicals in the skin of apples seem to inhibit the reproduction of colon cancer cells. Two recent studies indicated that eating five apples a week helped lower the risk for respiratory diseases like asthma. Apples also help protect arteries from plaque build up, and eating two apples a day or drinking a 12 ounce glass of apple juice reduced the effects of cholesterol. Also, pectin and other acids in apples help aid digestion. That’s why apples are great served with rich foods like pork or lamb or duck.
Apples have more nutrients if eaten raw with their skin, but they should be washed thoroughly. Just under that wonderful colored coat lies half of the Vitamin C content of the apple. The skin also has lots of fiber and is the source of the apple’s characteristic fragrance.
A raw medium apple (two and a half inches in diameter), eaten with the skin, has only 80 calories, 5 grams of fiber, and is a great source of potassium. It also contains calcium, phosphorus, iron, and Vitamin C and A. The apple is composed of 80-85 percent water, 5 percent protein, and 10-15 percent carbohydrates. It also is sodium free and fat free.
Apples also are 25 percent air. That is the reason why they float when you put them in a tub of water at Halloween parties and dunk for them.
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