Well, Fall has arrived in all its glory here in Michigan. The leaves are changing and falling from the trees. The days are getting shorter and shorter and temps are cooling. We've already had a frost warning. While we all love our summer days, we do really enjoy Fall. In addition to enjoying all the changes around us outdoors, we enjoy the slowing down of our days, as we tend to spend more time at home. Much more reading occurs, as we snuggle on sofas and beds with pillows and blankets and new books. Football is on (a lot!) and my knitting needles come out. And the stove and oven are usually getting a full workout all weekend long, as the bounties of Fall harvest are perfect for slow roasting, simmering and baking.
One of the gems of the Fall harvest is the apple!
And they get used a lot around here throughout the Fall and Winter. I incorporate them in to roasts and soups as much as I bake with them. One of my simplest and favorite things to do with apples, besides eating them fresh (often dipped in to peanut butter or Nutella around here!), is making fresh applesauce. Jarred store-bought apples sauce just does not compare. I love making my own also because I get to control the sugar content and I get to combine the apples with some of our other favorite fruits. I spent Sunday afternoon making batches of 5 different kinds of applesauce and took notes along the way so I could share them here with all of you today!
Sheree's Chunky Apple and Pear Sauce
I am a pear lover. And I just love the combination of apple's and pears. I first made this sauce over a decade ago when Leah was a baby. She loved apples and pears and we used to go fruit picking alot when we lived in New York. This is a delicate, sweet sauce that really works well on everything from ice cream and yogurt to serving along side pork and chicken dishes. This is a great fruit sauce to use in place of some of the oil or butter in baked fruit quick breads and muffins. It is also great added to apple or pear pies and crisps, as it amplify the fruit flavors.
6 pears (I used organic Bosc), cored and finely chopped
4 medium sized apples (I used organic Honey Crisps), peeled, cored and finely chopped
6 cups of water
1/4 cup maple sugar (I get mine at Trader Joe's)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon fresh grated cinnammon
1/4 cup maple syrup
juice of 1 lemon
Combine the 7 cups of chopped pears, 5 cups of water and 1/4 cup of maple sugar in at medium sized pot. Bring mixture to a boil, then lower heat to a medium boil and allow to cook for 10 minutes so that pears soften. Stir mixture several times throughout as it is cooking.
Next, add the 6 cups of chopped apples and 1/4 cup of maple syrup. Continue to gently boil over medium heat for another 30 minutes until fruits soften and break down and you have a nice, thick sauce. You should be stirring continuously throughout and if you need to, add water in small increments to prevent the sauce from getting too thick and scorching. Once the sauce is finished cooking, turn off heat and add the juice of 1 lemon, vanilla extract and cinnamon. Stir and feel free to add more cinnamon to taste. I leave my sauce pretty chuncky. You can run it through a food mill if you want to smoother consistency with no chunks.
Sheree's Apple and Plum Sauce
My husband just love plums! And so I developed this version for him. I just love the color! It is yummy alone, but especially delicious with Greek yogurt and granola on top. You could also add some to your apple pies or other baked apple dishes to amp up the flavor!
5 plums (I used prune plums), pitted and chopped (~4 cups)
4 cups water
1 cup pure cane sugar
8 medium sized apples (I used Jonathons), peeled, cored and chopped (~6 cups)
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon fresh grated cinnamon
Combine plums, water and suage in a medium sized stock pot and bring to a boil. Next, reduce heat to a medium boil and cook for 20 minutes. Add the apples and continue to cook over medium heat (gentle boil) for another 30 minutes. Stir throughout the cooking.
Once the mixture has thickened and the fruit have soften and broken down, remove from heat and use a potato masher to break up any remaining large chuncks of fruit. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well to mix.
Sheree's Apple and Peach Sauce
Last Fall was our first Fall here in Michigan. We were surprised that they can grow the most delicious peaches up here! I always associated Peaches with the South (you know, Georgia Peaches), so almost did not even picked them up at the market last year. But we tried a sample and were completely blown away. I developed this sauce to use some of the delicious local peaches.
4 peaches, pitted and finely chopped (~5 cups chopped)
5 cups of water
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
6 medium sized apples (I used Honey Crisps), peeled, cored and finely chopped (~7 cups)
juice of 1/2 lemon
dash of freshly grated cinnamon
Combine the peaches, water and sugar in a medium sized stock pot. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to a medium boil and cook for 5 minutes. Next, add the apples and continue cooking for another 20 minutes until the fruit softens. Continue stirring throughout. Once the sauce has thickened and the fruit are soft, turn off heat and smash with a potato masher to break up any remaining large chunks of fruit. Stir in lemon juice and freshly grated cinnamon to taste.
Sheree's Apple Cranberry Sauce
I never liked cranberry sauce growing up. Then one Thanksgiving in graduate school I had my first taste of homemade cranberry sauce. Wow! What difference! Homemade cranberry sauce tastes soooo much better than the canned stuff. I have several great variations of homemade cranberry sauce and one year, I decided to combine my apple sauce and basic cranberry sauce recipes together. Here is the result.
2 cups fresh cranberries (washed)
6 medium sized apples (I used Jonathons) peeled, cored, and sliced into small chunks
3 cups water
1 cup granulated sugar
Prep and Cooking time:
About 10 minutes of prep work for cleaning and chopping fruit.
About 20 minutes of total cooking time.
Combine 2 cups of (rinsed) fresh cranberries, 3 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar in a pot and bring to a gentle boil. The cranberries will pop and start to cook down. Reduce to a simmer and allow to cook for 10 minutes.
While the cranberries are cooking, peel and chop your apples into small chunks. Put the apples in to the pot with the cranberries, bring back up to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer and cook until apples soften and fall apart. The time depends on how big your apple chunks are and the type of apple you use, as some are firmer than others. Watch the sauce constantly, adding water in small amounts if needed so that it does not become too thick. My sauce was ready in about 10 minutes. Now, taste your sauce. Adding sugar to taste. We don't make ours super sweet, so the 1 cup was perfect for our taste.
I do not run mine through a food mill, as we love those little bits of chunks. But if you prefer a completely smooth sauce, run it through a food mill.
Sheree's Apple and Mango Sauce
Mangos add a wonderful tropical flavor to applesauce. This variation is a favorite with both of my kids. Make sure your mangos are ripe but not overripe (they should be firm, but give a little when you push on the skin and you should be able to smell the fruity flavor when you sniff the skin).
3 mangos, peeled and cored and chopped into small chunks (~2 cups)
4 cups water
1/2 cup coconut sugar
5 apples (I used Honey Crisps), peeled, cored and finely chopped
juice of 1/2 lemon
pinch of freshly grated cinnamon
Combine mangos, coconut sugar and water in a medium sized stock pot and bring mixture to a boil. Stir occassionally, and once boiling, reduce heat to a gently boil over medium heat. Allow to cook for about 10 minutes, then add the apples. Stir and cook mixture for another 25 minutes. Remove from heat, use a potato masher to break up any larger chunks and stir in lemon juice and cinnamon to taste.
All of these recipes make about 6 cups of fruit sauces. All of these apple and fruit sauces need to be store in the refrigerator. You can also freeze them in a freezer safe container (allow to cool to room temp before freezing) and you can can them using your favorite canning method. I usually make ours and we eat them up within a week or so!
I hope you'll find some time to make some of these apple sauces. You'll be glad you did!
Okay, I have to head out to get the kids. Then while they get their homework done, I'll be roasting a chicken with some veggies and will serving it with rice and some of these apple sauces! Yumm!
I wish you all a happy and creative day!