Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving Giving

Every year one of my Thanksgiving contributions to the family meal is homemade applesauce. It is sweet, delicious, fresh, and a necessity in my family. I recommend making it as your contribution as well. There are few ingredients, it doesn't take too much time, and it is a healthy, tasty side dish that both adults and children love.

Because it always feels good to give something that is so appreciated, I started making more and giving to others as well. I eat my Thanksgiving Day meal with my mother's family at my grandparents' house, but my father hosts Thanksgiving at his house as well, so I drop a jar or two off for Dad's gathering. I also give some to my fiancรฉ's family (their gathering sometimes turns into my second Thanksgiving meal of the day, since they usually eat much later on).

And this year I have a new addition to my applesauce-giving list — my friend Heather's family. We have been friends since we were five years old, and I love her family like my own. This year Heather is taking charge of her family's meal, and she is a little overwhelmed, so I offered to contribute my applesauce to the Ochs family as well.

People always think of Christmas as the giving holiday, but I like giving on Thanksgiving better, when it is not expected. A little gesture of food and kindness goes a long way.

Here's how to make my homemade applesauce:

First let me say that I have never had a recipe; my mother showed me how to make applesauce when I was very young. The measurements/amounts are guesstimated, but I have yet to mess up a batch — it's not like baking, where the wrong amount can ruin the whole recipe. Really, the only thing that can happen is that you end up having thicker or thinner sauce or sweeter or more tart sauce — none of which is a big deal.


Apples — I prefer local apples. You can buy utilities bags, which are not so pretty but taste the same and are cheaper. They sell them for exactly this purpose — to cook or bake with. I also prefer McIntosh, but any not-too-tart apple will do. Yesterday I used a combo of Cortland and McIntosh. Use as many or as few as you wish, depending on how much sauce you want.

Cooking Equipment:
Medium to large pot (size of pot depends on the amount of apples you are putting into it), stove top burner, large bowl, chinoise (
cone-shaped sieve) with stand, wooden pestle, ladle, and spoon.

Fill pot with 1/2" to 2" of water. If you are only making a little bit of sauce you need just a little water, the more apples you are cooking, the more water you need. The water is what determines if you have thick or thin sauce. If you do put too much water in, you can spoon some out before pressing the apples.

Place pot on stove, and turn burner to medium high.

Rinse apples, core them, and cut them into large cubes, leaving the peels on. Throw apple chunks in the pot as you go.

Cook apples and water at a low boil until they are soft and mushy.

Place chinoise and stand over bowl. Ladle some of the apple mush into chinoise. Mash with pestle. Repeat until all apple mush has gone through the sieve. (The apple peels remain in the sieve. The reason I leave the peels on while cooking is that they add flavor, color, and nutrients — my applesauce is pink!)

Mashing applesauce through chinoise with wooden pestle

Rinse pot to clean it of any remaining apple peels. Empty bowl of sauce back into pot. Add sugar and cinnamon to taste — you don't need much; a little goes a long way. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Let cool. Add to jars, plasticware, whatever containers you've decided on. Refrigerate until ready to give or use.

Serve warm or cold.

Keeps for two weeks. You can also can applesauce for a long shelf life.

Kristy MacWilliams, Marketing Manager

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