Friday, November 23, 2012
I hope everyone had a happy and delicious Thanksgiving.
I like to eat what's in season. Most things taste better if they're grown when they can thrive. Plus, you frequently get a wider range of varieties when you stick to seasonal produce. We're fortunate here in California. Our growing seasons are long and there's something wonderful coming ripe almost any time of the year. But some things are truly seasonal, even here in Southern California, and apples are a fall crop.
We see apples year-round in the grocery stores because many varieties have been developed that respond well to cold storage and are hard enough to withstand shipping from far away. The Granny Smith apples you buy in May and June usually are shipped from somewhere in the southern hemisphere. That's a long way for an apple to travel.
Personally, I prefer to save the flavor of the apple season by preserving a variety of apple products made from fresh local apples. Did you know there are over 25 varieties of apples available less than a two hour drive from Los Angeles? And the Pink Lady and Fuji apples we're been getting in our CSA box are perfect for making your own apple butter, dried apple slices, apple chutney, and apple sauce, one of the easiest ways to preserve apples.
If you've never made your own applesauce, you're in for a treat. You can tweak the flavor by using different apple varieties and you can control the sugar, from adding none at all to as sweet as you like.
Unless you want your applesauce chunky, you don't have to peel the apples. And if you have a food mill, you don't even have to core them. But you don't need anything more than a stockpot and a knife to make a chunky applesauce. And if you like your applesauce smooth, a food mill, immersion blender, regular blender or food processor will do the trick.
Personally, I prefer the food mill approach. I just cut my apples in 4-8 pieces each, put them in a stock pot with 1/2 C water and cook them covered over medium-low heat until they're very soft. I let them cool a bit; then I run them through a food mill, return the puree to the pot, sweeten to taste and cook to my desired thickness, which isn't very long. From here, I can cool the applesauce, pack it into freezer containers and freeze it, or preferably, can it in a boiling water bath canner. Pints process for 15 minutes. I like the rosy color imparted by the peel. Sometimes I add a little lemon juice, if I want some tartness, too.
No food mill. No problem. A blender or food process will pulverize the peels, but you might want to seed and core the apples first. Or you can peel and core the apples and cook them in a stock pot with 1/2 C water until soft. Then mash the apples with a fork for a chunky style sauce or use a blender or processor to make a smoother sauce. Again, sweeten to your taste.
Cut apples turn brown when exposed to air. You can minimize browning by soaking the apples in a lemon juice and water solution. But I usually don't bother with this step.
Making your own applesauce is easy. You can mix varieties or make a sauce from a single variety. Best of all, you can control what's in it. So, extend the season for our own local apples by making this simple and delicious treat.
Wednesday's box included the following:
From Drake Family Farms: Chevre;
From Jaime Farms: Tarrgon, parsley, red leaf lettuce, kale, leeks, and celery;
From Jimenez Family Farm: Cilantro, winter squash, russet potatoes, bell peppers, and spinach;
From K and K Ranch: Pink Lady apples, pomegranates, Chandler walnuts, and fuyu persimmons; and
From Weiser Family Farms: Russian banana potatoes and mixed carrots.