I had the pleasure recently of volunteering a morning to work (if you really want to call it that!) at the Ambler Farmer’s Market. My assignment? I was paired up with Torrie Frecon of Frecon Farms, the local farm that feeds my fruit obsession each and every week while the market is open. Torrie was setting up an apple tasting for farm market shoppers as part of an apple fest, complete with an apple confection competition.
The weather absolutely stunk that morning. It was unseasonably cool, gray and raining – not exactly the type of weather the market organizers hoped for when they’d planned this apple extravaganza. Turnout was low at first, and I had time to talk with Torrie about all things farming, cooking, and apples. She knew like, everything about everything!
I learned that heritage Winter Banana apples not only taste delicious, but they are excellent pollinators for sterile varieties like Red Delicious. I learned that apple varieties, like fine wines, should be tasted in order of least sweet (such as Macintosh) to most sweet (such as Honeycrisp) so you can more easily taste subtle differences in the flavor. Cortland apples are my new favorite, and because they oxidize (turn brown) much more slowly than other varieties, they are perfect displayed on a cheese plate when entertaining.
Torrie inspired me to make a vat of homemade applesauce, and she gave me all kinds of tips. This applesauce is perfect in its simplicity. It’s really easy – you can do it, too!
Torrie’s Tips for Homemade Applesauce
For a more flavorful homemade applesauce, use a combination of different apple varieties, some tart and some sweet. According to Torrie, most commercial applesauces are made from just one kind of apple, usually Golden Delicious, and are full of added sugar.
Do not peel your apples prior to cooking. The peels contain most of the nutrients and leaving them on will impart your homemade applesauce with great flavor and a lovely color. Since I’m a chick, I like pink applesauce!
To get the juices started when cooking, add a generous splash of unsweetened apple cider. Many recipes call for water, but apple cider will enhance the flavor of your applesauce.
No added sugar is necessary! With good apples, your applesauce will be plenty sweet.
Select in-season, local apples of several varieties. Wash, core and slice the apples. Yields will vary, but I used about 7 pounds of apples and I ended up with 3 1/2 pint jars. I canned the 3 full jars and scarfed down the remaining half-pint while the others were processing.
In a very large stockpot over medium high heat, pour about one cup of unsweetened apple cider and add the apples. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples are completely soft and mushy – this could take an hour or so. Cool slightly.
Working in batches, pass the applesauce through a food mill to puree and remove apple peels.
You may now either decant your applesauce to jars for canning or you can freeze it in jars or freezer containers. If you want to can it, leave 1/2-inch of headspace, apply lids and rings, and process in a water bath canner – 15 minutes for pint jars and 20 minutes for quart jars.
That’s all there is to it!