Last night I was overjoyed to see that I had apples on my tree just ready for picking! Autumn is on its way and I couldn't be happier! Of course I had to get them right then and there because I have pesky deer that will undoubtedly beat me to it if I leave them even a day. As cute as deer are, I don't like to share my homegrown food with them! They can have the ones that fall to the ground, that is as nice as I get when it comes to my produce. Otherwise- stand clear!
With my fight against deer, every year I end up picking so many apples at one time I have a race to see how many recipes I can find to use them all up. My number one stand-by is easily applesauce. It is quick, delicious, and you can control how much sugar goes into it when you make it at home. Applesauce is one of those things that you really should never buy from the store. It is that simple. With having a three year old, we eat A LOT of applesauce in our house and I love knowing I have a freezer full of it whenever we want it! And applesauce isn't only for kids. You've heard of applesauce with pork chops, right? Match made in heaven. But it is also delicious warm with vanilla ice cream or vanilla yogurt. Kinda tastes like apple pie this way. Mmmmmmm.
3 to 4 lbs of peeled, cored, and quartered apples. (Make sure you use a good cooking apple like Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Fuji, Jonathan, Mcintosh, or Gravenstein.)
4 strips of lemon peel (a vegetable peeler works nicely to cut your strips)
1- 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, depending on tartness of apples
1 large cinnamon stick
1/4 cup of dark brown sugar*
up to 1/4 cup of white sugar*
1 cup of apple cider or apple juice
1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground mace
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Place the apples, apple cider, lemon juice, lemon peel and cinnamon stick into a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer, stirring often until tender, about 20-30 minutes. Stir in the sugars, nutmeg and any of the optional ingredients. Cook, stirring, until the sugars are dissolved and blended, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and remove the lemon peel and cinnamon stick.
For a chunky applesauce, mash with a potato masher. For a smooth applesauce, run it through a food mill or a coarse sieve. Serve warm or chilled.
*the sugar measurements are just a guideline. Add a little at a time, tasting to achieve the right sweetness you desire. My homegrown apples are very tart so I like a good balance between the sweet and tart.
Freezes easily, lasts up to one year in freezer. I like to freeze them flat in ziplock storage bags. When you are ready to eat you can easily break off the amount of applesauce you need.