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Monday, October 20, 2008

Lemon Spice Applesauce

Christie and I went on a field trip to the aforementioned Kiyokawa Orchards at the beginning of the month. We got a map, directions, a box, and a little red wagon and set out to pick apples from the u-pick orchard.

Let's check the map

In short time we had bags of Elstar, Gala, Empire, Swiss Delight, and a couple of other varieties. Once back in Portland we split up the pounds of apples and put them in the fridge. Then we both marveled at the sheer number of apples we had. Piles of them.

I love apples, truly they are my favorite fruit. I spend much of the spring months missing the really good apples that only around in late summer and autumn. Sure, there's some that are still from local orchards and keep well into spring and early summer (like a Pink Lady), but I really miss the crispness of an Elstar or Newtown Pippen. Well, now I had piles of glorious crisp delicious apples.

Having just made the apple preserves a week before I looked through my copy of the Ball Blue Book and was shocked to discover just how little there is to making applesauce. This news was confirmed by the lovely folks at Kiyokawa who were offering samples of fresh made, chunky applesauce in their market.

Kiyokawa Orchard Store

In order to make sufficient room for the newly picked apples in Christie's fridge we set to chopping up all the ones she already had in the fridge from the Farmers Market, all Honeycrisps. Sugar is optional so we went further optional by using agave. I added some bottled lemon juice as well since we weren't going to be canning any. All this and a little water went onto the stove, some time later, when the flat smelled delicious, we added cinnamon and enjoyed a bowl of piping hot, amazing applesauce.

I immediately wanted to play around further with the applesauce idea having discovered how simple it is. I made a point to I use a mix of ALL the varieties of apples we picked at the orchard. I liked the lemony note the bottle juice brought to the batch, but wanted fresh and also to try using the zest of the lemon. I had loved the cardamom in the preserves, so added that as well and the results were 2.5 quarts of incredibly tasty applesauce!

This brings me to the recipe!

6 1/2 pounds of apples (about 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 per quart)
1/4 cup dark agave syrup
1 teaspoon powdered cardamom (or less, to taste)
1/2 teaspoon powdered cinnamon (or less, to taste)
1/2 cup water (or less)
juice and zest of 1 lemon

Wash, drain, peel, core and roughly chop all of the apples. Cook apples in a large saucepan with just enough water so they do not stick. When apples soften and break down use a potato masher, whisk or even a fork to help process the apples into sauce. Add the agave, lemon juice, zest and powdered spices. Cook for an additional 5 minutes.

At this point you can put the applesauce into jars, let it cool, then refrigerate if it will be eaten quickly.

If you'd like a little chunkier applesauce reserve one or two of your apples. Once the other apples begin to breakdown into sauce finely chop the reserved apple, add to the sauce pan, and cook until the newly added apples have just softened.

If you want to can the applesauce, here are the directions from the Ball Blue Book:

Bring applesauce to boil (212 degrees Fahrenheit). Maintain this temperature as you ladle the hot applesauce into hot canning jars. Leave 1/2 headroom. Remove any air bubbles. Adjust two-piece cap. Process pints and quarts 20 minutes in a boiling-bath canner.

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