If we’re going to talk about apples, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the passing of Steve Jobs.
An artist in his own right, his medium was technology. Not just technology, but beauty in technology, design and functionality.
I had my first glimpse of Pagemaker on an Apple IIe, eventually graduated to a used Powerbook 520 (sadly, lost in a burglary some years back), and then to the second generation iMac in that distinctive Bondi blue. Mac is where my heart has made its home. This blog comes to you from a very, very heavily used MacBook that I wouldn’t part with for all the tea in China. Unless someone offered me a MacBook Air for it. Even I have a price.
Scream at corporate America all you want, but Steve Jobs and the other visionaries at Apple have made the world, if not a better place, certainly a more beautiful place. Rest in peace, Steve.
Okay, back to our regularly scheduled programming.
Fall, specifically October, is for apples. Apple cider (which we’ve already covered), apple cake, apple pie. Bobbing for apples. Apples, apples, apples.
When I was little, I think I got a little bored with apples. There are only so many you can eat, right? As it turns out, I think maybe I was just eating the wrong apples. I thought they should all be little red apples, very sweet Red Delicious apples.
No, young Kristen. You were very, very wrong.
Red and Golden Delicious fell by the wayside as I grew older. I found Granny Smiths, those lovely bright green apples that sometimes bite back a little. And Galas and Gravensteins with their wild red and yellow coloring. And more recently, Honeycrisp. Ahh, Honeycrisp, how beautiful you are. How did I ever live without you?
Wikipedia tells me there are over 7,500 known apple cultivars. Thankfully, Wiki did not then go on to list them all or we’d be spending several days just talking about that. However, from the list they do offer, we can safely say that most apple species thrive only in the Northern Hemisphere. That’s another of those things that I think is really interesting, though I couldn’t tell you exactly why.
Thus we have arrived at the point in October where I tell you that you never have to eat commercially made applesauce ever, ever again. Because apple sauce is easy. I can’t make a decent apple pie to save my life, but I can make applesauce like nobody’s business. And you can, too.
Get yourself some apples. Get two or three different varieties. Get some sweet and some tart. Peel them, core them and chop them into little pieces. Inch cubes, half inch cubes, whatever.
Now, this is where the two roads in the wood diverge.
You can do this on the stovetop, but it takes longer and means you have to watch to make sure the apples don’t scorch. Get a big heavy pot. Dump your chopped-up apples into it and turn it on low. Cook. Stir. Cook. Stir. Cook. Stir. If you want drier applesauce, leave the lid off. No, you don’t need to add anything, but if you’re nervous about your ability to stir and keep it from scorching, pour in a little apple cider. You’re still going to have to watch it, but a little liquid will give you a few extra minutes so you can spend more time talking on your smartyphone or chasing your toddler or whatever. Cook the whole mess until the apples are soft. You can use a potato masher or a ricer or an immersion blender to make a smoother applesauce, or you can run it through a food processor. Totally up to you. This is not rocket science.
You can also do the same thing in the microwave. Dump your apples into a microwave safe bowl and microwave for five minutes. Stir. Zap it for another five. Stir. Reduce your zapping time to three minutes and repeat the process until your apples are soft. No need to add any liquid, the microwaving process will squeeze out a little juice along the way.
The apples will come out a funny tan color. You can add a few drops of lemon juice in the beginning if you want and that might brighten up the color a bit. I haven’t tried that, but it works for guacamole so give it a shot if you don’t like tan apples.
You can also add a little cinnamon toward the end of the cooking process to liven up the flavor. Since you didn’t add sugar (why would you?), you’ll have applesauce that actually tastes like apples. Novel, I know. When my grandmother made this, she would add Red Hot candies (also known as Cinnamon Imperials) in the beginning. With those, you get both a little kick from the candy as well as a lovely reddish pink final product.
If you want to take it one more step toward greatness, get yourself a little granola, a scoop of vanilla ice cream and some caramel sauce and – viola! – white trash apple crisp. You’re welcome.