We stumbled upon this book at the library last fall and it quickly became a family favorite. Like most of my daughter’s top picks this one doesn’t have any super heroes or exciting adventures. Instead it is a simple story about a regular family living life and doing something they love together, in this case, making applesauce.
It is a testament to the joys of family life and a reminder of how simple traditions build stability and create memory and meaning in the life of a child. It also resonates with my desire to live connected with the natural world as it emphasizes eating in season. The first line is a gem,
“My grandmother says there’s no reason to start eating apples when peaches are perfect. So we don’t eat the ones that are ready in August. We eat peaches. Also nectarines and plums.”
and stands in contrast to much in our modern culture that has become disconnected with growing seasons and rural life. Still this story is about an urban family, they don’t pick their apples, but buy them at the farmer’s market, something that is becoming more and more accessible to the urban public. They buy their apples, take them home and make sauce The process is incredibly simple but is something that many kids never get the chance to do.
And it doesn’t just talk about making sauce, it ends with the recipe. The best thing about this recipe is that using it shaved about an hour off of my applesauce making. The key is a special piece of equipment.
It is actually the one that I have and I would recommend it (I had a different brand for a while and returned it, this one works much better).
A bit fancy?
Can you make sauce without it?
Will you ever want to again after using one?
A foodmill is a simple dull blade that mashes food against a grate (mine has four different plates for finer or courser mashing). You can use one to make mashed potatoes, baby food, or mashed anything including applesauce. Foodies prefer them to blenders because they create a better texture because they don’t blend air into the food. I prefer it because it means I can just cut quarter my apples (without peeling or coring them! This is what used to make this process take an extra hour) boil them and then mash them in the food mill. The seeds and peels stay in the mill and the mashed apple goes through which means sauce is faster to make with almost no wasted apple.
So a few pointers for apple sauce:
- Always use 3 or more types of apples to get good flavor. You can also mix in other fruits, I’ve done apple and peach, apple and strawberry and apple and pear. This book suggests adding a quince, for a nice pink color and sweetness.
- Use sweet apples. Green apples are best for baking but will leave sauce too tart for most.
- You can can applesauce in a regular water bath canner like you do when you make jelly. I add some lemon and citric acid to mine just in case but none of the recipes even call for it.
- You can sweeten sauce with sugar, but if you want a paleo version try maple syrup.
- Sauce sweetens as it cools and especially when it sits overnight, if it isn’t quite sweet enough try it the next day and see if it isn’t just right.
6 lbs of apples (you really don’t have to weigh them, just fill up your pot and make sure you have enough liquid to keep them fro scorching)
1-2 cups liquid, apple cider is best but apple juice or water work
1/3 cup cinnamon sugar (mix 1 teaspoon cinnamon in about 1/3 cup sugar), more or less to your preference
1/2 tsp butter (optional, I’ve never added it)
dash of salt (optional)
Wash and cut up apples and put in a heavy saucepan. Add liquid, cover, warm over medium heat, stir occasionally until soft and foamy, about 20 minutes.
Remove from heat, cool briefly, but while warm process through food mill, you may need to remove skin and seeds several times when doing a large pot. Sauce will thicken as it cools.
And Thanks for being here.
To learn more about Liturgy of Life click here, or join us in our reading group, where we are currently reading, The Art of The Commonplace by Wendell Berry. Feel free to comment here or join in the discussion on facebook.