With the leaves finally taking on their truly autumnal form in our small swath of the world (as you can see above), everyone’s mind seems fixed on either the beauty of the season or the impending winter freeze. And while I can understand why autumn might serve as a signpost for ice and snow, I prefer to think of this magnificent time of year as a celebration of life instead of death. After spring’s initial burst of graceful greenery, many of us fall back into the pattern of ignoring the plant life around us, the plants that have provided life and sustenance for all of human history. However, as autumn redesigns nature’s verdant camouflage, we become reminded once again of the living history that surrounds us, and it is nearly impossible not to notice and appreciate such a dazzling display of flickering colors.
So today, I’d like to join in this celebration of the season by revisiting the apple orchards I talked about in “The Alchemy of Apple Butter” in order to make a batch of applesauce. This autumn recipe, which has been in my family for many years, showcases the differences between making applesauce and apple butter. While apple butter necessitates low heat and extended cooking, applesauce involves a much quicker, and much more forgiving process that’s been tried and tested since the 14th century (at least). Unlike apple butter, however, applesauce does require straining, meaning that a standard sauce maker (like you’ll see in the pictures below the recipe), food mill, or straining device of your choice will be needed to transform your apple mash into a true sauce.
Spiced Applesauce Recipe
Yields 4 1/2 Quarts
- 24 Apples (We used Stayman Winesap this year, but any sauce apple will work – Rome, Ida Red, Golden Delicious, etc.)
- (Optional) 2 Tablespoon butter – Our family recipe calls for butter, and we have always included this seemingly peculiar ingredient. Unfortunately, as is the case with many old recipes, the reasoning behind this addition has been lost, but its inclusion has never resulted in a bad batch of sauce!
- 2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1-2 Cups Sugar (more or less based on the tartness of your apples, and your own taste)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- Cover the bottom of a large kettle with water, until the water is 1/2″ deep.
- Wash your apples, and cut off the stem and tail. Cut your prepared apples into quarters and place in the kettle with water (you don’t need to remove the seeds/skins as these will be removed in the straining process).
- Cook apples over medium heat until apples are mushy – about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Stir the apples frequently to keep them from burning.
- When there are no large chunks of apples left in the mash, remove the kettle from the stove and put your apples through your strainer of choice.
- When all of the sauce has passed through your strainer and is free of debris, take a taste of your sauce to determine how much sugar you need to add. After adding in your desired amount of sugar, stir in the butter, vanilla, and spices.
- Store in mason jars or the container of your choice! This recipe does freeze quite well, and is our preferred method of storage.
- Enjoy on its own, or in any recipe that needs a splash of autumnal flavor!
As always, I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s special excavation, and I truly hope you find the time to celebrate this wonderful season! Stop by on Tuesday to dig into another spicy recipe!
- Autumn Recipes – The Alchemy of Apple Butter (kitchenexcavation.wordpress.com)