Saturday, September 13, 2008
Well I guess it's official.. it's Apple Harvest time here in New England. Does anything taste better than a crisp snappy apple when you've been out hiking in the cool autumn air? This was a perfect weekend to go apple picking and so we did! Still balmy temps here, so you didn't need to worry about crowds.. a great selection to choose from, and a lovely spot high in the hills with a wonderful view made this picking weekend a very special one for us.
I've been craving roast pork, with roast potatoes and homemade applesauce. I can always tell when the long hot sizzling days of August have just about come to an end.. and this urge just comes over me to make a nice autumn dinner. Pie & turnover recipes just hankering to be made, and the thought of apple butter, just warms me.
We had the orchards nearly to ourselves, and as we went about the task I couldn't help but think of what has happened over the years. The US agritourism seems surreal to me: around the country, migrant workers pick our food for low wages under bad conditions, but the well-to-do suburban families pile into minivans and RV's, drive long distances, and pay money to have their kids pick produce.
Picking apples or any fresh produce at 'Pick Your Own' farms, stands for me at least, a longing for a simpler time, when you could walk into an apple orchard and pick.. simply because they were there. Looking around at row after row of apple trees in the orchard, I had to wonder to myself what Johnny Appleseed would make of all this when he planted these first seeds with wide sprung hands so very long ago, but continued on with my picking, dreaming of what I would prepare with all these tasty jewels.
I knew the first thing I wanted to make was applesauce. I'm a little fussy when it comes to applesauce. I don't care for smooth texture and do enjoy the addition of cinnamon, so after trial and error came up with an applesauce I'm really pleased with. Flavored just right for us, with a consistency that's neither chunky nor smooth. More like coarse... first coarse, if you've never tried your hand at making applesauce before. So head to your local orchard, and start picking or Farmer's Market and then try this easy to prepare recipe. Enjoy!
50 apples - I used 30 Paula reds & 20 McIntosh
Water - enough to almost cover the apples
2 TBLS lemon juice
1/2 - 1 cup sugar (white or light brown)
3 TBLS cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
12 jelly jars- kept warmed
Wash, peel, core and slice apples. Put the apples into a large pan and almost cover with water and lemon juice. Cover. Bring to a light boil, but WATCH the pan, as apples swell, allowing your cover to fly off! Cook covered until apples become tender & start to fall apart with occasional stirring.. about 25 minutes.
When the apples are tender, transfer to collander and drain off excess water. Put all apple pulp back into your pan & mash with a slotted spoon. Add sugar(s) slowly, 1/2 cup at a time until dissolved, cinnamon and nutmeg, and continue to cook until sugar is dissolved and flavored to your taste. I used 2/3 cup light brown sugar with 1/3 cup white sugar.
Have your warmed jelly jars ready and spoon hot applesauce mixture into the jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Clean rims of jars, and apply seals and lids. Process jars in water bath canner 20 minutes. Remove and allow to cool before storing.