This little recipe is popping up now because I first made it a couple years back for the Thanksgiving holiday. Every year we have this wonderful, well now that I am grown it seems more wonderful, tradition of making dutch apple pies with my parents the night before Thanksgiving. My mom always makes between ten and twenty pies depending on the year and how many friends and relatives we are sharing with. The memories of this event range from exciting and then exhausting as a child, exasperating as a teenager, and a sense of happy nostalgia and appreciation as an adult. I can't wait to share all these emotions with our own child as we continue the tradition throughout the years, even though they may not truly appreciate it until they are my age themselves.
Well, to get back on track, this recipe originated during one of these annual events. We finished up all the pies and still had a fair amount of apples remaining (both cut and uncut). I was struggling with what to bring to our family gathering the next day and my mom suggested making applesauce. I thought she was crazy, but as it turns out she was not! It is surprisingly easy to make, results in the house smelling amazing, and is easily customizable to your own desired sweetness, thickness, and supplemental flavors. And now on top of the delicious homemade applesauce flavor, I also get that small amount of emotional warmth that comes from happy nostalgia when I make it. I highly recommend making this in happy moments while creating memories of your own because that feeling is priceless. If you use all sweeter apples you may find no need for sugar, but a little extra sweetness doesn't hurt. I like to cook everything down until it dissolves itself, but as you will see in the directions there are other options for those with time constraints. It's so easy you'll wonder why you haven't tried it before, check it out:
Apples - 7 MacIntosh, 3 Gala
Sugar - 1/3 cup
Vanilla - 1/2 tsp
Cinnamon - 1/4 tsp
1. Peel and core apples. Cut into small pieces, the thinner the chunks the quicker they will cook.
2. Pour into a deep pot and add enough water to just cover the apples.
3. Bring to a simmer and cook for 2-4 hours stirring occasionally (ever 30-45 min).
4. If cooking for 2 hours, mash the apples with a potato masher and then run through a food mill or potato ricer. If cooking for 4 hours, mash after three hours and again after the last hour (the apples should break down enough to not need the other step).
5. In the pot with the apples stir in the sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon. Cook gently for at least 5 minutes. Add more cinnamon or sugar to taste.
(all dressed up with a little cinnamon sugar sprinkled over top and a dollop of whipped cream)
This is a great base recipe to customize your own flavors, I hear that crystalized ginger is pretty good if tossed in at the beginning with the apples. And I have used this for everything from family gatherings to home canning, both for personal use and as part of holiday gift baskets. The only thing I can say is be sure to cook it down to the consistency that you like. It may take an extra half hour, but it will definitely be worth the effort!