I love grocery shopping. I’m not a huge meal planner, but I do have a general idea of a couple meals I want to make and I go through the fliers and buy things that are on sale. I don’t know what it is, I just really enjoy it. My son is just starting to recognize what’s on the shelves but he’s easy enough to say no to as I try my best to not buy processed foods, especially ones that we can make at home with better ingredients. Occasionally he’ll point out the movie character on a candy package(and by candy I mean fruit snacks, granola bars, sugary cereal and other similar things), and I just acknowledge it and move on. It seems to work well so far – I hope it continues.
Since we like to buy mostly fresh ingredients, our fridge gets packed at the beginning of the week and is usually fairly empty by the end of the week. But the one thing that makes me feel really bad at the end of the week is bringing home my groceries to find a forgotten couple of apples in the back of the fridge or some other fruit or veggie that’s been hidden all week and forgotten about. Usually it’s easily fixed by chopping up broccoli for a stir fry or blending leftover spinach from last week into a smoothie on the same day, as soon as we find it. But sometimes when you forget about apples they get softer. If there’s one thing we don’t like, it’s soft apples. We all turn up our noses and leave soft apples in a corner in the fridge, or on the counter. The good thing is as long as they aren’t really bad, they’re perfect for applesauce, soft or not.
At the beginning of apple season we went a little crazy and bought mass amounts of apples because they’re even tastier if you haven’t bought any all spring and summer because they aren’t local or organic or very good tasting when they aren’t in season. For the first while we ate apples all day every day but then they started to go soft so I made huge batches of applesauce and put them in the freezer. Perfect applesauce any time 🙂
I know this is a little different, this is more like a process rather than a recipe, but I just want to share it with everyone. After buying applesauce at the store for the last time a few months ago I was determined to share how I make applesauce because I had never realized how bad store bought is. This is so easy and so much better than what you buy from the store.
- Lemon juice
- Cinnamon and cinnamon sticks
Applesauce tastes best when a couple different kinds of apples are used. If you pick an apple that’s flavorless your applesauce wont taste very good unless you balance it with some flavorful apples. Also if you use apples that aren’t very sweet, such as granny smith, your applesauce will need a lot of sugar to taste good. Using a couple granny smith apples along with more sweet apples can be really yummy though so don’t avoid them completely. Quite often when I use sweet, good tasting apples I don’t need to add any sugar at all to have fantastic applesauce, so choose your apples wisely if you want to avoid adding sugar.
First, wash and core your apples, you can leave the skin on if you plan to puree the applesauce or if you have a food mill to run it through. I left the skins on and pureed the applesauce that’s in the pictures, you can’t even tell the skins are in there. If you like chunkier applesauce you’ll want to peel the apples first otherwise you’ll be left with chunks of apple skin. Use a pot proportioned to the amount of apples you want to use and put an inch or so of water in the bottom along with 1-2 tbsp of lemon juice – this will help the apples from turning brown. You can also throw in a couple cinnamon sticks if you like. Put your cut up apples into the pot. I usually just quarter my apples, they don’t usually take too long to cook so I don’t cut them any smaller. Stir the apples so that the lemon juice is spread over all the surfaces. Put the pot over medium high heat until the water in the bottom begins to boil, then turn down to low and put a lid on the pot. Remove the lid to stir every 10-15 minutes or so watching the consistency of the apples.
It will depend on the kind of apples and how big they are, but you’ll be able to see when they’re done. You should be able to take your spoon and easily poke through a piece of apple or squish it against the side of the pot. And if you’re using particularly mushy apples they’ll turn into applesauce all by themselves as they cook and as you stir them. When you see that your apples are cooked you can use an immersion blender to blend it all till smooth after removing the cinnamon sticks, of course. You can run it through a food mill or even put it in your blender to blend it. But my favorite method is taking a potato masher to it and mashing it by hand to leave some apple chunks in it.
Now taste your applesauce. If it needs a little sugar you can add it, but don’t add too much. Tart applesauce can be really good too and if you have truly sour applesauce you don’t need much sugar to take the edge off the sourness so start small. Or if you really want to avoid adding sugar consider adding a different, sweeter fruit after you’ve pureed it. You can also add some ground cinnamon or try experimenting with different spices. You can even add a tbsp or so of vanilla(depending on how many apples you used originally) to make it extra special. Like I said before you can experiment by adding different fruit purees. Start small at first and taste to see if you want more. Who needs store bought anyways? This is so good for breakfast, a snack, added to baked goods or even just plain for dessert.