No one really needs a $500+ blender. I thought about putting a “but” in that first sentence but after a quick gut-check I opted for a full stop. Because it’s true. “My blender’s output isn’t measured in horsepower,” is the epitome of a “first-world problem.” A VitaMix is, however, a really, really nice-to-have.
Danielle and I decided before Mary Stewart was born that we would make all of our childrens’ baby food at home from fresh, organic ingredients. This is really a lot easier and less time consuming than it sounds… especially with a VitaMix. Having the right tools for the job always makes the work go more quickly and smoothly. In this pursuit, having a VitaMix made our weekly baby food prep sessions not only quick and easy but fun, too.
Charlie, our second of two, is now eating table food so, for now, the baby food factory is closed. One food, however, that we still make on a regular basis, even for the adults, is applesauce. If you have never had homemade applesauce, you have never had applesauce! It could not be any easier to make, it BLOWS AWAY the store-bought kind, and you feel good knowing everything that’s in it.
Now that autumn is here, apples are abundant, cheap (even organic ones), and more often than not, local. Recently, a friend of ours brought us back a bushel of apples from a local orchard that she visited. While our heads are spinning thinking of all the ways to use the apples, one thing we know for sure is that we want an ample supply of apple sauce.
Until you routinely make your own applesauce, you may have no idea just how nuanced an applesauce can be. When you make it yourself, you have complete control over the type(s) of apples used, the seasoning (cinnamon, cardamom, allspice, etc.) if any, how much you cook it down before pureeing, and how smooth or chunky you want your apple sauce to be.
Of these three main applesauce characteristics, the one I appreciate the most is how much the applesauce has been cooked down. You can make a very “blonde” sauce by cooking the apples just enough to soften them, resulting in a very bright and fresh-flavored applesauce. Personally, I like to cook it down quite a bit more (though this is typically to my frugal wife’s dismay as it enhances flavors but reduces the yield). By cooking the apples for longer, more of the water content of the apple is cooked out (reducing yield), concentrating and caramelizing the natural sugars. As the color deepens the texture of the finished product thickens. Learning to control this process (i.e. not burning it) is the key to making apple butters as well as more savory applesauce’s that can be used to accompany many different meats.
We’ll show you a few of those in the coming weeks. For now, let’s just focus on a basic applesauce.
Let’s get started:
Chopping up a bunch of apples can be tedious work but this cutting technique makes quick work of it with little waste. Start by putting your thumb and forefinger in indentations at the stem and base of the apple. This obviously keeps the apple from moving but more importantly helps to guide your cut by giving you a point of reference of where not to cut; if you steer clear of your fingers, you will steer clear of the core.
Make your first cut then flip the apple to rest on the now flat side.
Repeat the same cut and rotate the apple as you go…
…until you are left holding only the core.
Now position all pieces with the skin facing up. Cut the largest piece into thirds, the two small pieces into halves, and leave the small piece as is.
Now cut them all into thirds going the other direction. This should give you a relatively appropriate and consistent size for even cooking.
Here is what 10-12 apples look like in a 5 quart pot. Start off with medium high heat and reduce as necessary to keep from burning apples.
After cooking for 5 minutes or so and removing the lid to see the apples releasing their liquid.
About 15 minutes in I can see that the Stayman apples we used for this batch turn to mush a bit more quickly than others.
At about 20 minutes, it’s time to add the cinnamon.
Near the 30 minute mark it’s time to come off the heat and cool for a bit.
Into the VitaMix for a quick spin.
The finished product. Candidly, this batch came out a little loose. The next time I use our ample supply of Stayman apples to make applesauce, I will reduce or omit the added water and cook them down a bit more. This is not to say it was a failure, far from it in fact, the consistency was a hair loose but the flavor was delicious.
Refrigerate and enjoy!
Or add to a jar and share with a friend. Trust me, your friends will thank you and ask you for more.
- 10-12 apples, cored and cubed, skin-on, nearly any variety (in this recipe we used Stayman)
- 3 tablespoons of water
- 2 tablespoons of cinnamon
- Add apples and water to a large pot (5-8 quarts or so), turn heat to medium high, and cover.
- Keep the lid on for the first 5 minutes or so, to allow them apples to steam a bit.
- Remove lid and stir frequently, scraping the bottom of the pot and turning the apples. Lower the heat to medium and allow the apples to release their liquid and cook down bit. *
- Add the cinnamon and stir to combine.
- Continue cooking for a darker apple sauce or remove from heat and let cool for several minutes
- Transfer apples to a high powered blender and blend until desired texture.
- The amount of liquid left in the pot after cooking will determine how thick or thin the apple sauce will be. I like a dense apple sauce and thus am sure to cook out the majority of the liquid