Welcome to another edition of Progressive Eats, our virtual version of a progressive dinner party where each course is held at a different home. With Progressive Eats, a theme is chosen each month and you can hop from blog to blog to check out the different recipes we’ve made. This month’s theme is Apples, the perfect symbol of Autumn, hosted by Liz of That Skinny Chick Can Bake. You’ll love all the recipes that will be perfect all fall and winter long! Make sure you check out the links below the recipe.
When I was young, I loved the applesauce my mom would give me on days when I had an upset tummy. It was sweet and soothing, just the thing for a little one under the weather. I didn’t know at the time, but she would go to the store and buy fresh apples so she could make her own from scratch. No wonder it tasted so good!
I had made applesauce occasionally over the years, carefully peeling and coring the apples, but usually I fell back on store-bought varieties. They are convenient and I often had trouble eating a full batch of my own. I always used yellow or green apples, not really paying much attention to the variety. Then I started studying how different apples are used in combinations to make the perfect apple pie. Would it be the same for applesauce?
I took a cooking class and the teacher suggested that instead of peeling and coring the apples, we use a food mill and make our life a lot easier. Boy was she right! No more muss or fuss, just quarter the apples and toss them in a big pot to cook down. When they are softened, scoop them into a food mill set over a big bowl, and press them through a screen. The screen captures the solids, and allowing the beautiful apple liquids through. So simple!
If you haven’t used a food mill, you should consider it. If you make your own baby food, mashed potatoes, other pureed foods, and of course applesauce, it will make your life a whole lot easier. Depending on the size of the grate screen you use, you can control the texture from silky smooth to slightly chunky.
I browsed some recipes to see what techniques other people use for pink applesauce, and many include red cinnamon candies to boost the pink color. I laughed because you don’t need that. It would definitely give you a deeper pink, but many kids have issues with food dyes. All you have to do is include some dark red apples with their peels and you have pink applesauce without using food coloring! And if you want to deepen the color more, add a plum or two. Naturally beautiful.
With a large Dutch oven and a food mill, you can turn a whole bushel of fresh apples into a fabulous treat for your family and gifts for friends. You can pour it into sterilized mason jars (leave an inch of headspace), seal them and put them in the freezer. Then you can deliver a jar of frozen homemade applesauce to friends all year long!
While the trees are laden with their sparkling bounty of apples, I hope you will consider making some homemade applesauce for your family. One bite and you’ll never go back to store-bought again! Now please excuse me as I go dish myself another big bowl of this applesauce 🙂
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
Run, don’t walk, to get a food mill. It will save you oodles of time and work. If possible, go up one level and you will love the food mill even more!
- 5 to 6 lb (2.5kg) mixed apples, washed (use some tart, some sweet, and some red-skinned)
- 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- Pinch kosher or fine sea salt
- Water or apple juice
- A cinnamon stick or 1 to 2 tsp ground cinnamon or nutmeg, optional
- Set out your largest pot - I use my Le Creuset Dutch oven. Set your food mill on a large heat resistant mixing bowl, such as Pyrex, with the middle size grater disk in place. Set a second medium heatproof bowl on the counter with a rubber spatula next to it.
- Prepare the Apples: Rinse all the apples well and set on a cutting board. If you are adding a plum or two, rinse them as well. Using a sharp knife, quarter the apples and place in the pot. There is no need to chop, peel or core them if you have a food mill. If using, halve the plums and discard the pits. Add them to the pot. Sprinkle the fruit with the sugar and salt. If you want to use a cinnamon stick for flavoring, tuck it into the pot.
- Add enough water or juice to come about 1/2 inch up the pan. The apples will give off a lot of water so you only need enough to get the cooking started. Don't worry if the fruit mounds above the edge of the pan. As the apples cook they will collapse and the pile will get shorter.
- Cook the Apples: Place the pan over medium-high heat and cover the pot. When the liquid has come to a boil, remove the cover and reduce the heat to medium. You want the liquid at a low boil. Let the apples cook, stirring occasionally, until completely softened, about an hour. The timing will depend on the size of the apples and the size of your pot. Press on the apples occasionally with a spoon to judge their softness, moving firmer pieces under the liquid in the bottom of the pot.
- Make the Applesauce: When the apples are fall-apart-soft, scoop a couple of ladles of them into the food mill set over the bowl. Use the handle to turn the food mill blade, pressing the softened apples under the blade. Occasionally turn the blade the opposite direction to release anything that is caught and to get the rest of the apples under the blade.
- If you used a cinnamon stick, pull it out and discard it. Occasionally use the rubber spatula to scrape the bottom of the food mill, getting all the pureed applesauce into the bowl. Then scrape out and discard the solids left in the food mill - the skins, cores, seeds, etc. I do this at least 3 times when I am making a large pot of applesauce.
- As the bowl under the food mill gets full, ladle some of the applesauce into the second bowl. You need some room under the food mill for the new pureed apples to be added. Continue scooping, turning the food mill, reversing directions occasionally, and discarding the solids, until all the apples have been pressed.
- Adjust the Flavors: Combine all the applesauce into one bowl and taste it. If it needs additional sweetness, you can stir in some honey or agave syrup but not sugar because it will not dissolve fully. If you decide you want to add ground cinnamon or nutmeg to the sauce, stir it in. Taste again and adjust flavorings and sweeteners as needed. If you get it too sweet, squeeze in a little fresh lemon juice.
- To Store your Applesauce: When it is fully cooled, you can hold it in the refrigerator, covered, for up to a week. For longer storage, transfer to sealable containers, leaving 1-inch of headspace, and storing in the freezer from 8 to 12 months. If you will be freezing the applesauce, do not add any spices. Spices lose their flavors during freezing, so plan to thaw the applesauce you want to eat and then stir in the spices before serving.
- Yield: about 12 to 16 servings
Create a New Tradition Today!
This recipe is part of our monthly progressive dinner party, Progressive Eats. See the links below for more inspiration and great recipes!
Apple and Pecan Stuffed Pork Chops from Never Enough Thyme
Apple-Cheese Spread from All Roads Lead to the Kitchen
Apple Chutney from Mother Would Know
Savory Apple Cheddar Bread Pudding from Stetted
Tsunth Monji – Green Apple Fritters from Spiceroots
Apple Butter Coffee Cake from Pastry Chef Online
Apple Streusel Cake with Yogurt Cream (Gluten-Free) from Jeanette’s Healthy Living
Homemade Pink Applesauce (Gluten-Free) from The Heritage Cook
Hot Buttered Rum Apple Pie from The Wimpy Vegetarian
Hubba Hubba Apple Cake from The Food Hunter’s Guide to Cuisine
Maple Glazed Apple Tart from That Skinny Chick Can Bake
Maple Roasted Apple Butter with Bourbon from Creative Culinary
To see our upcoming themes and how you can participate, please check out the schedule at Creative Culinary or contact Barb for more information. We have a core group of 12 bloggers, but we always need substitutes and if there is enough interest, we may consider adding additional groups.
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