It’s official. Fall is all around us, and I couldn’t be more thrilled! Growing up in the Midwest definitely had something to do with the development of my “Autumn Obsession”: the brilliant colors of the turning trees, the crisp mornings, the smell of the crunchy leaves underfoot, carving bright orange pumpkins….these are all important to me, but more exciting to me than any of those is my love of all things apple.
It started as a little kid when my class got to visit the local apple orchard and watch how they made cider (coming from someone who now lives in the city, I can’t believe how lucky I was to have access to local gems like that). I remember the little paper cone cups they would serve the cider samples in–man I loved those! Every fall, Mom would take us to Hoosierland (the apple orchard’s storefront) and we’d buy cider by the gallon along with some glorious apples. Apples for eating of course–and making baked apples too–but my favorite activity was making applesauce!
A couple weeks ago, my mom and her French friend came to visit during the most beautiful time of the year here in the Bay Area: October. I had planned a day of apple picking up in Sebastopol for their first day. After winding along the beautiful back-country roads through orchards, we reached an organic humble orchard where a lovely young couple live and had agreed to allow us to pick for a “donation.” Come to find out, we were the first people to approach them for such a thing and it worked out just how I had hoped: an afternoon of fall fun (except it was almost 90* F), picnicking and picking apples in a beautiful landscape–there were no petting zoos or corn mazes to be found…just us, the apple trees and les bonne pommes.
I think we all walked away that day feeling reconnected to nature and bountiful seasons of the past…not to mention about 30 lbs of apples. My mom made an apple pie, I’ve made at least a gallon of applesauce, I think apple cider is on deck (stay tuned)–yet there is still an extremely large amount of apples standing by in an extremely small laundry room.
Here’s my take on the fabulous, comforting dish that we call applesauce. I love the color that the cranberries give the sauce (got the idea from good old Apple Hill up in the Sierra foothills), and I use an immersion blender to give it an extremely velvety texture.
- 12 medium-large apples (use a variety) cored and sliced (don’t peel)
- 2 cup fresh cranberries
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 2 dashes unrefined salt
- 6 T honey (or experiment with maple syrup, molasses or stevia leaf)
- 1 tsp each: nutmeg, cinnamon
- 1/4 — 1/2 tsp clove (your preference)
- 2 T fresh lemon juice
Combine apples, cranberries, dash of salt and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cover—let mixture simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until fruit is soft. Add the honey/sweetener and spices and cook another minute until well combined. Take saucepan off heat and use immersion blender or normal blender to puree until a very smooth consistency is reached. Finish by stirring in the *lemon juice. After the applesauce has cooled slightly, taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking. Serve with toppings of your choice or refrigerate and serve chilled. Makes 2 quarts. Enjoy!
*adding the lemon juice after it’s cooked helps preserve the delicate vitamins.