“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.” ~ Martin Luther
There is a medium-sized apple tree in my grandmother’s backyard. As far back as I can remember when the leaves began to turn, the apples would fall and she would make applesauce and apple pies. The apples were small with a bright green skin and tart in flavor. The tree itself brings back many memories. Each year, when the tree was ready for pruning my Tita Dora and Tito Manuel would drive down to my grandmother’s house for a day of visiting, eating, and yard work. They arrived with goodies from their backyard; zucchini, end of season
tomatoes, lemons, eggs from their chickens, and fresh-baked cookies. The ladies would visit while Tito would prune the apple tree. I also remember when my
grandmother would have to “shoo shoo” the squirrels away as they ripped apples
from the tree, taking only small bites and leaving the rest to rot into the
ground. This made grandma furious; she’d curse the squirrels every time her batch of applesauce was smaller than the previous year.
A little over a year ago we started buying organic apples from our local organic produce farm in San Juan Bautista, Pinnacle Organics. When you buy local, not only are you keeping your money in the community, you know exactly where your food comes from, and you are also cutting out the middleman often reducing the cost. That said, I started buying boxes of apples weekly and inquired on my grandmother’s tried & trued applesauce recipe; apples, apple juice, cinnamon, and maybe just maybe a little brown sugar. After a few tries I came up with my version, same but different.
I was joining my grandmother and her sister, who was visiting from Mexico, for an early afternoon lunch. When my grandmother has visitors she pulls out several varieties of food, snacks, and goodies she’s made. Typically apple sauce would have been pulled out at this moment but this year, her tree only produced a very small amount of apples. I was already aware of grandma’s applesauce challenge, so I brought a couple of jars of freshly made apple sauce to share with the ladies. “Hmmm, this is better than yours Dolly…” Tita Mae never holds back…needless to say I felt a little bad for my grandma. Her applesauce has been the star for years. Despite feeling bad I know I’ve learned from the best, my grandma, and that’s why my applesauce is so freakin’ good!
This year, I’ve already had the opportunity to go through several boxes of apples and the season has only just begun. There are so many apple cooking options such as baked apples, chutney, pies, tarts, and salads to name a few. Since my son is such a big fan of my applesauce, I’ve been canning it like crazy so we have enough for the rest of the year when apples are no longer in season. It’s one of the easiest recipes I’ve made in a while and the time-consuming task lies only within the peeling, coring, and chopping. One Thanksgiving holiday my mother-in-law came over early to help in the food preparation and saw that I was tediously peeling a sink full of apples, hands hurting while I’m slumped over the kitchen counter. Christmas time arrived and she gifted me the best gift ever…an apple peeler, corer, chopper. The device looks medieval but it’s simple, easy to clean and does the job within minute’s verses hours.
My version has no added sugar; only apples, 100% juice from apples, and a mix of spices. After a long simmer the sauce remains chunky and is ready to enjoy! I’ve had people compare the applesauce to an apple pie filling…it’s that yummy.
Grandma Dolly’s Applesauce 2.0
- 5 Quart Sauté Pan
- 22 – 26 apples, depending on size (Pinnacle Organic Fuji, Braeburn, and Jonagold varieties)
- 16 – 24oz apple juice, enough juice to cover ½ of the apples in the pan (Pinnacle Organic)
- ¼ – ½ Teaspoon of each ground spice: cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice
Peel, core, and chop apples. Place the sliced apples in your cooking vessel; I use a 5 quart sauté pan because it’s a wide pan with high sides. This allows for the apples to spread out and cook evenly. Sprinkle over your apples the spice mixture of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice. Pour enough apple juice over the mixture till the liquid covers the apples half way. Toss the apple slices
to make sure the spices are mixed. Cook on medium high till the liquid comes to a boil, stirring often. Once it’s reached a boil, lower the temperature to medium or medium low heat for roughly two hours, stirring periodically. The cooking time will vary depending on the ripeness of your apples. I prefer my apple sauce slightly chunky – you can cook it longer for a smoother texture or even use an emulsion mixture to puree. Most the liquid will be reduced or gone by
the time your apple sauce is complete.
The quantities for this recipe allow for 8 – 12 pint jars to be filled, again depending on the size of the apples.
The best thing about this recipe is that the amounts can vary greatly; it all depends on your taste preferences. You can make this recipe with as little as five apples; just follow the basic instructions ensuring the amount of apples you use is covered half way with juice. The spice amounts can vary according to your taste.
Your applesauce will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks, canned will last all year, and in the freezer for roughly six months.