My friends and I are having an Around the Harvest Table blog party, with each of us contributing a dish to the fall-themed dinner, and you’re invited! At the end of this post are links to the other dishes, making it easy to visit each of them.
I had a hard time deciding what to contribute. Not only did my dish need to be something I grew, it needed to go with everyone else’s dishes, too. I finally settled on homemade applesauce. Applesauce goes well with many other foods, it’s good for you, and children usually love it.
If you know me, then you know that I get a kick out of cooking and serving what I grow. At mealtimes I often proudly tell my family which dishes came from our little homestead, and if they all did, then that’s especially exciting!
In City Girl, Country Woman, I shared a painting that I bought while visiting Seattle many years ago. It has always hung where I could look at it, usually by our dining table. The painting contained elements I loved, including an apple tree. When we moved to our homestead ten years ago, I couldn’t wait to start an orchard.
Among the first trees we planted were our apple trees.
A Lesson in Patience
Planting fruit trees is just the beginning. They take many years before they start producing, so it’s a lesson in patience. Fall is the perfect time to plant trees, so if you’d like to make your own applesauce, apple butter, apple cider, apple pies, etc, you can get started now.
Those first beautiful blossoms are so exciting! Our trees started producing several years ago. All summer long I watched the fruit grow and anticipated the harvest.
We have three different varieties: Arkansas Black, Enterprise, and Royal Gala. We purchased them from Stark Bros and have been very happy with them.
Tip: Apple trees need to pollinate each other. Stark Bros explains all of that and gives recommendations to help you choose. That’s why I would recommend buying from them, versus picking up a few from a garden center.
The Joy of the Harvest
I can tell you that there’s nothing like harvesting your own fruit! I found it a bit of a relief, too, because I didn’t have to worry about the raccoons getting it before I did. I wanted the apples to be as perfectly ripe as possible. Finally, when I could smell the apples and they released easily when I gently tipped them, I knew it was time. I loved the way those sun-warmed apples felt in my cupped hands!
This is a rather simple and humble recipe. If you’ve never made your own applesauce, you’ll be surprised at how simple it is. In fact, it’s more of a guide than a recipe because it’s highly customizable.
Let’s Make Applesauce
Start with some apples. Homegrown are best, but you can also buy them at a farmers market, a you-pick orchard, or your favorite grocery store. You can make as much applesauce as you want, but I’d start with at least one large apple per person. If the apples are small, then you might double that.
To get ready, I put some water in a bowl. Maybe about 1/4 cup per four apples. Then I add about a teaspoon of lemon juice to help slow browning.
To prepare the apples, you have options. You can use an apple peeler like this Johnny Apple Peeler, or an apple corer/slicer. I often enjoy peeling by hand. It seems to be therapeutic. It just depends on how many I have to do.
I quarter the apples, cut out the core, peel and chop coarsely and toss in the bowl. Occasionally I stir the chopped apples to distribute the lemon water.
When the apples are all chopped, I put them into a saucepan over medium-high heat until it gets going, then reduce it to medium. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking and burning.
How long it takes will depend on the variety of apple, and how finely they’re chopped. After 20-30 minutes or so, they’ll start to break down as you stir them. I use my spoon to mash them further, but you could use a fork or a potato masher. If they’re still too firm, then just let them cook a little longer.
Once the apples have cooked down, taste them and decide if you want to add some sweetener such as sugar or stevia.
Then add any other flavorings that you’d like:
- 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract.
- a sliver of butter.
- a sprinkling of ground cinnamon to taste.
Fine or lumpy?
I like the homemade feel of lumpy applesauce, but if you prefer a smoother texture, or are making baby food, then you might want to put it through a food mill or food processor.
Hot or cold?
Do you prefer your applesauce hot or cold?
It’s easy to get it started and let it simmer while you’re making the rest of the meal. When it’s finished, I just turn off the burner and let it sit until I’m ready to put it on the table. By then it’s lukewarm.
If you want it cold then you’ll need to make it well ahead of time to allow for chilling
Put your fresh, homemade applesauce in a pretty serving bowl, and it’s ready for your table.
This post is part of “Around the Harvest Table,” a fall-themed dinner by a group of homesteading bloggers. We’ve put together a farm-to-table meal using the harvest from our homesteads. I hope you’ll visit all the posts listed below where each of my friends is sharing a recipe utilizing their harvest.
Happy fall, y’all!
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