KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) In The New Year: Homemade Applesauce

I decided ahead of time not to make any new year’s resolutions this year, and I’m sticking to my plan. It’s so much easier than sticking to resolutions. Still, not only is it a new year, it is also a new decade, so I have been thinking about the future and how I want it to be different from the past. Not that the past has been bad, mind you. This last decade has been the best ever. I’ve watched my son grow from a 10-year-old sweetie pie, to a man (though still a sweetie pie, he’s now a manly sweetie pie.) In fact, for me, motherhood has been the best job ever. Yet it is a job with a clear-cut expiration date, and I’ve hit it.

So many thoughts have been swirling in my head over the first few days of January that I’m feeling dizzy. It’s like a treadmill of ideas. As soon as you cross out one idea, another one pops up and the list stays the same size. Actually, it keeps growing. I resolved to keep my eye on the list for a while without doing too much editing. As it grew, I saw a pattern. I continue to sit with it, adding and sometimes subtracting. In an effort to simplify, I've identified one over-arching objective for the year that encompasses all the little goals. I was getting hung up on the minutiae.

I am once again pulling out Laura Day’s book The Circle and working through her new one How to Rule the World from Your Couch. Laura’s books are full of really good tools to stay focused and use all your senses to navigate the steps to lead you where you want to go. (Take a look on Amazon; there's a world of help in them!) So I’m hopeful.  That’s about as close as I can come to a new year’s resolution.  Only the simple and basic will work for me right now—as simple and basic as the applesauce I am making by the potful for the manly sweetie pie while he’s still at home on winter break.

Right now, most local New England apples are past their prime, not as crunchy and sweet as they were a few months ago. The Rome apples I used were a tad mushy, but they made superb applesauce with a gorgeous rosy color. This is not so much a recipe as a method. The amounts are simply supplied as guidelines. You need some liquid in the bottom of the pot to keep the apples from scorching. If you happen to have a little cider around, pour about 1/8-inch of it in the bottom of the pot. If not, water will do. Also, a little sugar (white sugar, brown sugar, sucanat or agave syrup) in moderation will brighten the sauce and bring out the apple flavor. By moderation I mean a few tablespoons. Taste and sweeten accordingly.

While I am not a fan of single-purpose gadgets, I have hung on to my food mill through several moves. I acquired it at a yard sale for fifty cents. I could use it for potatoes or other purees, but I don’t. You bet I am glad to have it through most of the winter, though. Without it I would have to peel and core the apples, and I would miss the beauteous pink that cooking them with the skin provides. If you want to invest in one, you can buy this food mill. Or keep your eyes out for one in a second-hand store or garage sale.

Really simple applesauce (Makes about 10 cups) 

6 pounds apples

About 3/4 cup apple cider or water

1/4 cup Sucanat, agave syrup, brown sugar, or white sugar, more or less

1. Pour about 1/8-inch cider or water into the bottom of a large pot. Quarter the apples and add them to the pot. Cover the pot with a lid and start cooking the apples over medium heat until you hear the sputtering, bubbling sound of the cider coming to a boil at the bottom of the pot, about 5 minutes. Decrease the heat to medium-low and move the lid an inch or two so that it partially covers the pot. After about 10 minutes, check the apples. Fold the firm apples on top under the softened pulp on the bottom of the pot.  Check every once and a while, and push the uncooked apples down into the bubbling pulp.  Cook until all the apples are soft and falling apart, 25 to 35 minutes in all.

2. Place a food mill over a pot or bowl. The job is easiest if the food mill fits snugly over the container it is resting on. If you use a pot, you can grasp the two handles together, and if you do the whole operation at a lower level (in an empty sink, for example) it is even easier. Pass the cooked apples through the food mill in batches and discard the peels and seeds. Taste.  If you think the applesauce needs sweetening, stir in the Sucanat. Pour into clean jars and store in the refrigerator.

Posted on January 9, 2010 and filed under Breakfast.