Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Car Mama Cooks: Easy Homemade Applesauce

Car Mama-Red AppleThe weather is finally changing from hot summer to cooler autumn. Yesterday the searing hot sun drove our temperatures up to 90 degrees, today it's overcast, drizzly and the high temp will likely be around 66. I love it. Time to cook, bake, and drink hot drinks! We recently picked a ton of fresh apples, but because of the hot weather I didn't want to bake the apple cake I'm craving, so I made applesauce instead. (Two weeks later and I'm still craving a warm, gooey slice of apple cake.) 

U-Pick Saturday

Car Mama-Chileno Valley
Beautiful Chileno Valley
In September, my mom came for a visit (from Iowa) and we had several gorgeous fall days that weren't too hot. One Saturday we headed to Chileno Valley Ranch in western Marin County for their U-Pick Weekend. Any road from Highway 101 to any western destination in Marin or Sonoma County is fun -- the roads are hilly, curvy, narrow, and lined with trees, cows, or vineyards. Quite a few car commercials are filmed on these roads. I put my Q7 in Sport mode and pretended I was in an Audi commercial while my kids talked non-stop to my mom. 

Chileno Valley Ranch is beautiful, and the owners are wonderful. Sally is a Master Gardener and it shows in the flowers and trees all over the property. They have several varieties of heritage apple trees (I can't remember the names) that were planted with apple-picking in mind. Therefore, it was easy for the kids to pick $30 worth of apples. 

Car Mama-Kids Pick Apples
Car Mama-Rams
The Rams
Car Mama-P Eats Apple
"I lost a bracket from my braces."

Car Mama-Lamb
Chileno Valley Lamb & Very Pregnant Ewe
If you haven't ventured out to pick apples yourself, I encourage you to do so. The kids loved the whole experience (especially finding wormy apples), and sneaking bites from freshly picked apples before they were weighed. (I think we all ate one apple in the orchard before our bags were weighed. Sorry, Sally.) Once our apples were weighed, we took our cores and threw them to the rams and then went on a little tour of the ranch. We spent time watching the ewes and crooning over the lambs. I turn into a softy around lambs and puppies. Lambs and puppies could convince me to do anything.

Car Mama-CVR House
Chileno Valley Ranch Home
When we got home, my mom made an apple pie. Two days later, she made an apple crisp. And then she left and we still had apples. The kids ate them for lunch and snacks, but I had to come up with something that was easy, wheat-free (husband doesn't eat wheat), and didn't require the oven: Applesauce. My brother makes applesauce all the time and he gave me this easy recipe. (Please keep in mind that this is my first recipe post, and the first use of my new iPhone camera, so it isn't exactly what you're used to.)

Homemade Applesauce

Water or Apple Cider
Cinnamon Sticks (optional)
Cloves (optional)
Ground Cinnamon (optional)
Grated Nutmeg (optional)

Car Mama-Apples1Step 1: Peel apples. I peeled about 10 apples of various sizes and varieties, some were tart, some were sweet. (Try to keep the peel in one long ribbon to impress your kids.) Some people include the peel--it's all up to your preferences for texture and color. (Red-skinned apples will make pink sauce.)


CarMama-Apples4Step 2: Core and slice. I just used a paring knife, but you can use one of those apple-corer things. No need for uniform sizes or perfect anything. You just want apples without seeds and stems.
Car Mama-Apples3
Real apples with real blemishes.

Step 3: Add water and spices. In a pot on the stove, add apple slices, about 1/2 inch of water (or apple cider), and several cinnamon sticks and a few cloves if you want to. No need to add sugar unless the apples are super tart or you like things super sweet. Turn the heat to medium-low and cover.

CarMama-Apples5Step 4: Cook. Let apples break down for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to check the mushiness level (technical term). Turn the heat down to simmer and let it all soften for another 30 minutes. Stir a few times to make sure it isn't burning. Keep it covered. 

CarMama-Apples6Step 5: Mash or puree. Once sauce reaches the desired texture, turn off heat. Remove the cinnamon sticks and cloves from the pot, and then mash up the apples. I use our potato masher because I like chunky sauce and I don't like to wash extra dishes. If you want a smoother texture, use a food mill, a blender, or a food processor.

Step 6: Taste. If you would like more cinnamon flavor, add some ground cinnamon. If you like nutmeg, add some nutmeg. I happened to have whole nutmeg so I grated a pinch in along with some extra cinnamon. Stir it all together and you're done. Serve warm (yum) or refrigerate.

Step 7: Store. I put my sauce in a large mason jar and put it in the refrigerator. The jar isn't properly sealed for long-term storage, so we're eating it within a few weeks. If you want to keep the sauce for a few months, you'll need to take the time to can it. You can easily find solid instructions online, or you can ask your dad, mom, grandma, or anyone who knows the mechanics of canning. 

Easier Than Pie
CarMama-Picking Apples2Making applesauce at home is incredibly easy, and is a fun way to get the kids to help out in the kitchen (and then sneak out and leave them to clean up). I have fond memories of watching my mom and grandma peel apples (expertly peeled into one long ribbon), slice them against their thumbs (No cuts!), and then make the best apple pies and crisps. The apple cake I want to make involves shredding the apples--I guess it's time to get out my box grater and get busy!

My first serving of this applesauce was over plain Greek yogurt. It was the perfect blend of cold, tart yogurt and warm, sweet apple. This was easy, the applesauce was delicious, the house smelled like apple-cinnamon goodness, and I had only five things to wash, but beautiful memories of apple picking with my kids and my mom.  

(I showed my husband this post and he immediately asked, "What's Car Mama cooking for dinner?" Guess I better get to the store...)

Please Share 
How do you like to prepare, eat, or serve your applesauce? And what great apple recipes do you make in the fall? 


(c) Copyright Text and Photos 2010-2016. Erika JN Fish. Car Mama. All Rights Reserved.

1 comment:

  1. I've got to try making apple sauce. I usually get mine from the store. My kids are not huge apple sauce, apple pie, apple anything fans really, which is a pity because I like hot apple pie with a little vanilla ice cream which is how we used to eat it in Australia. I don't do much dairy, so coconut yogurt is my best bet. I want to learn how to make good apple cider too.