The vast majority of groceries that enter our home are purchased by me. While my husband occasionally stops for ingredients on the way home or makes a grocery run, it’s not terribly often. This means that I am making a lot of food choices for both of us; he requests certain items, but when “fruit” is on the list, I am the one who picks out what kind of fruit from which store that was grown in what country. Having read Michael Pollan’s books and others, I try to make informed choices and vote with my dollar. After seeing Food, Inc. and getting some of the same information I already had, my husband is now more understanding (and actively supportive) of those choices.
In addition to our CSA, we are on our third year of a patio garden (mostly herbs and a few veggies, now with limes!). My goal for 2010 is to get us only using organic dairy from non-CAFO farms. We supplement the CSA with fruit which I try to make organic and local (not as challenging in California, I must say).
My latest effort involves ordering from Azure Standard, who “specialize in natural, organic, earth-friendly foods and products.” There is an established customer base here so a delivery is coming whether I order or not, and I can order some items in bulk or in larger containers than I have found locally to help reduce packaging. I just picked up my first order a few days ago and am overall quite pleased with everything.
My only disappointment was my order for “in-season apples.” Obviously they change varieties depending on what is in season, but there are very few apples I don’t like. We’ve been going through apples quickly these days, so I ordered nine pounds of in-season apples.
And I got nine pounds of Red Delicious apples. One of the only types I don’t really like, mostly because I think they taste like sugary cardboard. These organic ones seem to made of slightly more flavorful cardboard, but cardboard nonetheless.
Depending on what type arrived, my plan was to save some for eating in lunches and bake with the rest. So far, five pounds are turning into applesauce. I made a small test batch yesterday to make sure they cooked down into a decent sauce, and my husband took the end of the batch to work today he liked it so much. After I finish writing this post, a whole bag is getting cooked down.
Applesauce is so easy to make at home. You don’t need any equipment other than a knife, a pan, and a spoon. You can use a food mill, but it is not necessary. For this batch, I didn’t peel the apples. Later, I regretted it. I do like the pinkish tinge it lent the final product, however, so it was only mostly annoying.
So however you want, peel, core, and quarter your apples. I used I think two pounds, which was about 8 small-to-medium apples.
Toss the quartered apples in a pan that will hold them all. They’re going to cook down considerably so they just have to fit. Add the juice of half a lemon and about 1/2 cup of water. Add a few dashes on cinnamon if you want your house to smell extra amazing. Turn the heat on medium and cover the pan. Go check your email.
Come back in about 10 minutes and stir the apples with a wooden spoon. Breathe in the apple-y smell. Cover the apples back up, wander off and check your blog stats and Facebook. Update your status to say that you’re making applesauce. After 10 more minutes, go check the apples.
This time when you stir them, they should be getting mushy. Add more water if the pan is looking dry. Try to break up the apple quarters with your spoon. Cover and let simmer until stirring breaks the apples up easily. The time on this will depend on the type of apples you use.
If you want super smooth applesauce, you can feed it through a food mill, sieve, or potato ricer (especially if you were lazy and didn’t peel your apples). Usually I just break it down with my spoon and leave a few chunks for texture. Up to you!
Add a little splash of vanilla, and (if you’re feeling naughty), a glug of Grand Marnier. Give the sauce a taste and stir in a little sugar if your apples are too tart. The Red Delicious I used didn’t need any sugar. They did need Grand Marnier, though.
Voila! Applesauce. This is especially great for using up apples that are a bit beyond their prime. Sometimes I’ll just use two apples and make myself a little dish to go with lunch and eat it still warm. Delicious.
Yields 1 1/2 to 2 cups of sauce
2 pounds apples (I used 8 small-to-medium apples)
juice of 1/2 a lemon (cut it lengthwise for best juice yield)
1/2-1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
up to 1 tablespoon sugar
up to 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier
1.) Peel, core, and quarter apples. Place in saucepan with lemon juice and water. Add cinnamon if using. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until apples can be easily mashed with a spoon, about 20-30 minutes. Add more water if needed.
2.) Stir apples vigorously with a wooden spoon until desired consistency is reached. Taste sauce and add sugar if needed. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and Grand Marnier (if using). Serve warm or cold, or use in baked good to replace oil. Store covered in the refrigerator, or freeze.