A few weeks ago, on a Saturday saturated with the smell of fallen leaves baking in the sun, I went apple-picking. For for the first time. Ever. I know, I had a deprived, prairie childhood.
Sure I’ve plucked a few sour crab apples from the tree we had out back as kids. But that doesn’t count. This was good old-fashioned, eastern-style apple picking, right in the heart of the Empire state.
We debated the merits of Galas, Macs, and Cortlands. We ate fresh apple fritters, just out of their hot oil bath. We bought salty cheese curds and they squeaked against our teeth. We wandered the orchard in the feeble fall warmth.
Normally I don’t post photos of myself on here, but I got kind of a kick out of this one. It’s so posed, and I look so proud. With all the time I’ve spent in grocery stores in my lifetime, apples seem ubiquitous. Perfectly piled, row upon row, making ruby pyramids that greet you from the produce section.
Picking them from the tree is an entirely different thing. The apples, Empire in the case, appear like swollen purple grapes nestled in their spindly trees and pruned for prime production. You wrap your hand around one of the firm fruits, pull gently, and feel the snap of stem dislodged from its lifeblood. It’s such a simple gift of nature.
And when nature gives you apples, there’s just so much you can do. We ended up eating most of them raw, shined up on shirt sleeves, but I did managed to eek out a few containers of applesauce.
This stuff was a mainstay of our family’s dessert repertoire. Ladled out into bowls or over ice cream, the cinnamon-laced chunky brown applesauce was all the bedtime snack we needed. I’ve hated the baby food jarred stuff ever since; chunkiness and sauce go hand-in-hand in my world.
This year, the applesauce surprised me with its bright shade of pink. It must be those Empire apple skins, redder than a whole bushel full of blushing Republicans.
So many dear dear apples, straight from the tree into my pot. My childhood, slurped up from a silver spoon.
8 or more apples of your choice, cored and chopped coarsely, with skins
cinnamon (stick or ground, optional)
- Dump your apple pieces into a large, heavy-bottomed pot.
- Pour in about 2 cups water, and a cinnamon stick or a teaspoon of ground cinnamon, if you like that sort of thing.
- Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
- Reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally until the apples begin to soften and you can help mash them up with your spoon. If it looks like it’s needs to be saucier, add some more water, raise the heat, then lower and continue simmering.
- Cool, and store in containers in the fridge for 3-4 days.
Serve cold or warm, over ice cream, roasted pork loin, or maple-cinnamon marinated tofu triangles.