Thursday, October 4, 2007

Apples + Spiced Plum Applesauce

As part of our yearly CSA membership, we purchase a fruit share that comes directly from a local partner farm. This amounts to a 1/2 peck of fruit every week- mostly apples, sometimes plums, peaches and pears, and occasionally a bunch or two of concord grapes.

Apples are unfailingly abundant in the fruit share, and we can always count on seeing a different mix of cultivars each week. Some are familiar, others are entirely unknown, and it's fun to sample the strikingly different flavours and textures.

Our favourite is the Macoun apple, a good eating and cooking apple, and a cross between the Arkansas black and McIntosh cultivars. Macouns are usually small and flushed vivid pink or red, with icy-white, sweet-tart juicy flesh. Sadly, they only comes into season for a few short weeks somewhere between September and November, which for us means a flurry of apple dishes and at least 2 apples eaten out-of-hand each day until, in a flash, they're out of season until next autumn.

This week, we brought home a bag of Macouns, Cox's Orange Pippins and Gala apples. We ate as many as we could, and I turned the rest into my favourite breakfast, dessert and snack: applesauce!

You can make this applesauce with one type or a mixed variety of apples, and you can leave small strips of peel on the apples if you like an extra bit of texture. If you use a food mill to process the finished applesauce, you can skip the peeling step altogether- when you run the applesauce through the mill, any of the smaller plates will force the flesh through, leaving most of the skins behind.

If you want applesauce straight up, omit the plums; if you want something a bit different, substitute 1 pint of berries for the plums. I love this mixed with an equal amount of roasted, mashed butternut squash or pumpkin.

Spiced Plum Applesauce
Makes about 6 cups

3 pounds apples, peeled, cored and cut into large chunks
1 pint damson plums, pitted
2 cups water
1/3 cup light brown sugar, plus more to taste
juice of 1 lemon
1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled (optional)
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise pod
1 cardamom pod
dash of nutmeg

Put all ingredients except the lemon juice into a nonreactive* saucepan. Turn burner to low heat and cook at a steady simmer, covered and stirring occasionally. When the apples are soft- after about 45 minutes- turn off the heat and stir in the lemon juice.

Remove from heat and allow to cool. When the applesauce has cooled to room temperature, remove the ginger, cinnamon stick, star anise and cardamom pod. Taste and correct for sugar.

At this point, you have multiple mashing options:

Use a potato masher or fork for a chunky texture
Use a food mill fitted with the largest-holed disc for a medium texture
Use a food mill fitted with a small-holed disc for a fine texture
Use a food processor for a fine texture- go easy and pulse sparingly here
Divide the applesauce and use more than one method for a mix of textures

*nonreactive = enamel or stainless steel; not aluminum or cast-iron

1 comment:

Ali said...

wow...very interesting site, thank you!!