The piles of apples at the farms near my new home and at the farmer’s markets in the city are literally toppling over with the choicest fall produce and the apples this year are particularly delicious. I have been accused of saying that every year, but this time I mean it! Here are a pair of recipes for applesauce and apple butter for which you can use what are called “seconds.” Usually marked down in price for being banged up, bruised, having pierced skin, or otherwise labeled the dowdy bridesmaid and not the shiny, perfect bride. Ask your farmer if they have any seconds to sell for sauce and they may light up at your enthusiasm and send you home with a crate of lovely apples, ready for the pot.
You will need:
Fresh Apple Cider
Cut into large chunks all the apples you can fit into your largest pot. (If you have a fine chinois strainer or a food mill, you don’t need to peel or core the apples, just chunk them. If not, peel and core the apples before cutting into chunks.) Add enough fresh, preferably unpasteurized, apple cider to fill about an inch in the bottom of the pot. Pour on just enough maple syrup until the top layer of apples is shiny and coated, like you would on an ice cream sundae. Add a sprinkle of ground cinnamon, a few scrapes of fresh nutmeg, and about half as much ground ginger as cinnamon, plus a tiny pinch of kosher salt. Cover and cook over low heat until the apples are very soft, about 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and pass through the food mill or strainer if you have one, or mash with a potato masher for chunky sauce or purée with an immersion blender for a smoother sauce. Taste and add more spices if you like a more fragrant sauce. This will keep in the fridge for about 5 days, or you can process the applesauce using a basic water bath method to keep it longer or give away as a holiday gift.
Place your applesauce into a slow cooker. Place two chopsticks or butter knives across the top of the pot to rest the cover on in order to keep the splattering down and to allow the steam escape. Cook on the low setting overnight, or until the apple butter has reduced by half in volume. Cool, and store in the fridge up to 6 months, in the freezer indefinitely or can and give away as a lovely, tasty gift!