Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Pumpkin puree. In applesauce. Really. This is fabulous. Two of my favorite fall fruit flavors mashed together in one bowl. How could I not make this? And why didn’t I think of this on my own? (I got the idea from this post at The Novice Chef. Thanks, Novice Chef!)
Anyway, I just happened to have an abundance of lovely apples grown by some great friends. More importantly, they were harvested by these friends, which is, of course, much more difficult than sitting around and watching them grow. (Thanks, Jake and Jen. They’ve been delicious!)
After lots of snacking, bag lunches and a pan of Apple and Cranberry Crisp that I served to visiting relatives, I still had lots of apples left, so I didn’t hesitate to try this recipe. I’ve always got some squash on hand this time of year (or at least some homemade squash puree in the freezer), so there was no need to put this off a minute more.
The apples I used are the Keepsake variety, which are crisp, with a bit of that super-fresh apple tartness, a brilliantly fruity sweetness, and a slightly starchy mouthfeel. You just don’t get these in your average supermarket. Or even your above-average supermarkets. They don’t cook down to a super-soft mush, so I ended up making a pretty chunky applesauce. I adored it that way, since there was a reminder in every bite that this stuff came from real fruit.
I happened to have another type of sweet squash already prepared, and it replaced the pumpkin in the recipe very well, as far as I’m concerned. You could use canned pumpkin (probably made from another kind of squash anyway), which will make your experience that much easier. And what about that pumpkin/squash in the applesauce? It’s not overwhelming and plays a sweet, subtle, and, well, pumpkin-y back note to the perky fresh apples. Just delicious to a squash-and-apple-obsessed October eater like me.
I sort of stewed my apples in whole spices and apple cider, so the apple flavors were more prevalent than the spices, but the spices are by no means lost. You could use a couple teaspoons of ground cinnamon and call it a day, and I’m sure it would be delicious. My applesauce was fairly tart, since there’s no added sugar and I used the juice of a whole lemon. You can certainly adjust it to your personal sweet-tooth level by adding some sugar and/or using less lemon juice. I’d suggest tasting the apples first to see just how sweet they are…as if you would ever refrain from sinking your teeth into a sample from a big pile of apples anyway.
And I suppose you could just make plain applesauce if you aren’t inclined to put pumpkin (or other squash) in everything from now until December. You’ll just be admitting that you and I have a little less in common.
Applesauce with Pumpkin and Spices
Adapted from The Novice Chef
You can adjust this recipe to taste by adding sugar for a sweeter sauce (mine was quite tart), reducing the lemon juice, adding more or less spice, etc.
2 ½ pounds apples
2 6-inch cinnamon sticks
4 whole cloves
juice of ½ to 1 whole lemon (to taste)
¾ cup fresh pressed apple cider
1 cup pumpkin (or other sweet squash) puree
¼ teaspoon nutmeg (preferably freshly grated)
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
1. Peel, core and chop the apples. Place them in a large sauté pan. Break the cinnamon sticks in half and add them, along with the cloves, lemon juice and apple cider to the apples in the pan.
2. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat and boil gently, stirring occasionally, until the apples are very soft. This should take 45 minutes to 1 hour. Add some water if the sauce is getting too dry or is sticky before the apples are fully cooked.
3. Remove the cinnamon sticks and cloves. Add the pumpkin puree, nutmeg and ginger. Mash the apples with a potato masher (or you can use a blender to make smooth sauce) until the sauce is of desired consistency. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Makes about 5 cups. Can be frozen.
Other recipes like this one: Mulled Apple Cider, Apple Turnovers with Dried Fruit
One year ago: Shaved Vegetable Salad with Cider Sage Vinaigrette