We stand at that magical moment when autumn breezes and fuzzy sweaters are still fresh and new (ask me again in December). I love the leaves falling into my hair, the drafty chill that descends just after sunset, and the chunky tea mugs that are all the sudden wonderfully relevant. But best of all is the smell of apples in the air.
Since I live in upstate New York, apple trees are plentiful. No, not plentiful – abundant. They stand in yards and in unruly orchards, but they can also be found on the side of the road, next to rivers and ponds, and in front of city buildings. They’re everywhere, and many of them are unattended and unpicked, drooping under the heavy weight of their fruit. The result is all pervading, sweet, intoxicating apple air.
If that’s not reason to go pick some of those apples and transform them into a myriad of epicurean delights, I don’t know what is. Happily, I got the chance to visit a local orchard a couple weeks back, and along with my housemates, lugged home several bushels of Alexander and Honeycrisp variety apples.
Apples go bad quickly when stored casually (in giant crates in our kitchen, for instance), so we acted quickly and made fresh applesauce. It was my first experience picking apples, let alone cooking a giant vat of honey-colored sauce, so to say I was gleeful would be a gross understatement.
This recipe is so simple, but tremendously rewarding. Once you’ve tasted homemade, nothing else will quite suffice. I like a chunky, no-frills applesauce, so that’s what I have to share.
This recipe is so loose because it’s more a method than anything else, and flavorings are optional. Let your intuition take over; add water if the sauce seems dry and allow your nose to tell you when the sauce is finished. This is a fantastic project to trust your instincts on, because it’s nearly impossible to ruin.
Some people swear by only apples, while others welcome a dash of cinnamon or maple syrup. In the end, it’s your applesauce, so you make the call!
Simple Homemade Applesauce
- Optional: cinnamon, maple syrup, brown sugar
- Core and quarter your many, many apples. For a chunkier texture, leave the skins on. For a smooth and silky one, peel your apples beforehand.
- Place in a large stockpot, with enough water to keep the apples from burning while cooking. About a half inch will do.
- Bring the apples and water to simmer, and allow to cook on medium heat for several hours, stirring occasionally, until the apples have broken down and turned to sauce.
- Add any extras of your choosing, and turn off the heat.
- Eat immediately. Any you don’t consume will keep for a couple weeks in the fridge. If you want your sauce to last longer than that, freeze or can the leftovers.
It’s fall in a bowl on its own, but it’s also great with granola and spread on top of buttered toast. I like to warm mine up and toss in a few toasted nuts for dessert; the equivalent of wrapping myself up in a big blanket. Happy picking and saucing!
All photos taken and styled by Amy Feiereisel.
Eat Boutique discovers the best small batch foods by boutique food makers. We share recipes, maker stories and city guides to eating boutique. We host tasting events and markets for food makers, cookbook authors and food fans. We craft seasonal, regional gift and tasting boxes and sell individual items that you can order in the Eat Boutique Shop. You can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and Pinterest.