Back in the middle ages, when people had a lot of apples left at the end of the season, they use to entertain themselves by throwing it at the forsaken. Instead of cooking something nice. We’ve come a long way since then.
Nowadays, instead of throwing apples, we leave nasty comments, but at least we have learned to cook proper apple sauce. Well... at least some of us have.
Of course, you also want to cook a banging apple sauce. Because who doesn’t have a huge apple tree in their back yard? The ones that give so many apples you don’t know what to do with them all. I don’t have one of those but, I do sometimes buy too many apples. We share the same 1st world problems.
I’ve cooked this stuff all my career. Never from a recipe. I simply always threw together a few apples with sugar, sometimes butter sometimes not, a little spice and often a touch of lemon juice. Boily-boily, Tasty tasty and it was done.
Then came the big questions. “Chef, do you have a recipe for the apple sauce in the apple cake, for the pork roast, with ice cream...” and the list went on until I decided, to hell with it. We are making a recipe for apple sauce so they can leave me in peace. No more explaining.
Nowadays, I just print the recipe. Give it to Ivan. And he cooks it without making a peep. Now, that's a result!
Below are the ingredients I use and a little explanation on why I use them along with a few possible alternatives.
- Apples - You can use any apple, but I find golden delicious to be a nice mix of texture, flavour, sweetness and juiciness. If you have an apple tree then those are the ones you will be using of course. No matter the variety.
- Sugar(optional) - Depending on what you want or how you will use it. I prefer a bit(not too much) brown sugar. You could also use honey, stevia, or any other natural sweetener like maple or agave syrup.
- Spice(optional) - I have a bit of a fetish for spices when it comes to cooking apples in any form. We use cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and ginger in this recipe but you can leave it out or use any single type or a combination of those you fancy.
- Water - Apples release their own juice after a while but adding a bit of water at the start prevent possible burn scenarios and speeds up the process by creating a hot steamy environment in the pot.
- Lemon juice(optional) - If you are using a sweet variety and using sugar you need to balance it with a few drops of lemon juice or lime juice. Balance is key in above average quality cooking. It’s what sets many dishes apart. Little insider secret;)
- Salt - A pinch goes a long way. For balance, and bringing the flavour out, it’s a must.
How to make it
This is an extremely easy recipe to prepare. Just follow along and it will all be great.
- Weigh out the spices, sugar and water.
- Peel, core and cut the apples into smaller bite-sized pieces.
- Place into a suitably sized pot or pan. Cover with a lid and stew on medium heat until the apples are softened.
- If you are using whole spices instead of ground spices then remove them at this stage. You might find a lot of liquid in the pot depending on the variety of apple you used. Don’t worry. All will be cool.
- Use an old fashioned potato masher to roughly mash up the apples. Once mashed and you still have too much liquid, just slowly simmer it a bit to evaporate some of that liquid. Do not throw any liquid away at any stage. It’s flavour and water. We just need to evaporate some of the water and flavour is left behind. Take note that apple sauce thickens a bit when it cools down(there is pectin in apples, a naturally occurring starch that thickens when cooked and cooled down)
- Once you are happy with the consistency, give it a taste and decide if you want a bit of lemon juice in there to balance it. If so, obviously add a bit.
- Let it cool down and then store airtight in the fridge or freezer until needed. It will last for about 10 days in the fridge and pretty much forever in the freezer)
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You can easily let your imagination run wild on alternative ways of cooking or ingredients you can add or substitute. Let’s look at a few ways you can do that:
- Add other fresh fruit - You can add other seasonal fruits like plum and pear. Simply replace a part of the apples with that other fruit and follow the same instructions.
- Other sweeteners - You could replace the brown sugar with any other sugar or sweeteners like agave or maple syrup. If you are watching your sugar intake then use a tiny bit of stevia extract.
- Add Dried fruit - You can add dried apricots, plums, raisins, or figs to this recipe for delicious results.
- Addition of nuts - Add roasted, cleaned and chopped almonds, walnuts, pecans or hazelnuts once the sauce is cooked. Walnuts and pecans are amazing in apple sauce.
- Other spices and aromatics - You can change it up to fit the occasion or whatever you fancy. Use cardamom, juniper, fresh ginger, lemongrass, citrus peel or lime leaves.
- Consistency and texture - Sometimes you want a smooth apple sauce instead of a chunky one. In this case, you put it in a stand blender and blend it till smooth. On the other end, if you want it really chunky then mash it a bit less.
How to use as an ingredient
- In alcoholic or non-alcoholic Cocktails - Use as a flavour enhancer in cocktails along with other mixers. Try putting a spoon full of smooth apple sauce in a shaker along with calvados, fresh apple juice, ice and orange peel. shake up and strain. Delicious cocktail ready.
- In smoothies - Blend with banana, coconut milk and berries for a delicious healthy smoothie. The possibilities are endless.
- In baking and desserts - Like in carrot cake or apple cake to help keep them moist. When making trifle, mousses or even as a filling for doughnuts.
- To make apple fruit roll-ups - Simply spread thin on a silicone baking mat and dehydrate at 40C or 104F until semi-dried, sprinkle with sugar and roll.
- Make paté de fruit or fruit jellies - Use as you would normally use apple puree. Just make sure to not use extra sugar when making the sauce as you will be adding sugar in the syrup.
Straight up as a sauce this is a must-have over the holidays when you do your roasted turkey or crispy pork belly on the fire. Pork and apple sauce was made for each other. If you want to go the extra mile then smoke the apples a bit before you cook them. You will get lots of love for that around the dinner table.
When the festivities draws to an end you can serve some of the sauce alongside some vanilla ice cream and brandy-soaked fruit cake.
If you like cheese platters, then serve a little bowl of this sauce on the side with some oat crackers. It goes especially well with well-aged hard cheese and also blue cheese. The sweetness of the apples contrasting with the rich sharpness and saltiness of the cheese works a treat.
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Useful equipment for this recipe
Wooden chopping board - Buy Now
Japanese knife - Buy Now
Cast iron pot - Buy Now
Glass jars - Buy Now
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