Easy Chunky Applesauce
I love apples. Unfortunately, when you have access to a great bounty of apples, you can only bake so many pies. They don't keep forever. And they take up a lot of space. But there is no question apples are good for you. And if you live in an area that excels at apple production, it makes an awful lot of sense to make them a regular part of your diet.
"An apple a day keeps the doctor away" had to come from somewhere. And while the quote can't be attributed to any individual, it's been around for a long time, for good reason. A quick search took me to Mother Nature Network's post from 2011:
10 Reasons to Eat an Apple a Day. Here's what they shared:
- Apples are filled with soluble fiber (5 grams). This fiber has been shown to reduce intestinal disorders, including diverticulitis, hemorrhoids and possibly some types of cancer. It helps control insulin levels by releasing sugarslowly into the bloodstream. It cleanses and detoxifies, which helps eliminate heavy metals, such as lead and mercury.
- Apple pectin helps reduce cholesterol levels by lowering insulin secretion.
- In two studies researchers found that eating five apples a week lowered the risk for respiratory diseases like asthma.
- According to Chinese Medicine: Apples strengthen the heart, quench thirst, lubricate the lungs, decrease mucous and increase body fluids.
- Apple cider vinegarcan help prevent the formation of kidney stones.
- Studies indicate that eating apples daily can reduce skin diseases.
- According to a Brazilian study, eating an apple before a meal helped women lose 33 percent more weight than those who didn't.
- An apple has only 50-80 calories and has no fat or sodium.
- Apples are packed with vitamins C, A, and flavonoids and with smaller amounts of phosphorus, iron and calcium.
- Apples provide a source of potassium which may promote heart health.
Lots of good reasons! Apples are also 25% air by volume, and 5% protein. We tend to keep about a half dozen in the crisper drawer at any given time. If you do the same, remember that while organic apples are safe to eat without washing, non-organics are loaded with pesticides--so wash them throughly before consuming them. You might be tempted to peel them, but plenty of nutrients are in the skin, so washing is preferable. HOWEVER--if you are going to make deliciously easy chunky applesauce--you will need to peel them!
The advantage to applesauce as a preservation method for busy families is two-fold: it reduces the volume (amount of space occupied) by a large pile of apples and it requires only simple tools. All you need are a stove, knife, peeler, pot, spoon and freezer. Oh, and you may want a cutting board. Containers to store the applesauce in that can be transferred from freezer to fridge will also come in handy.
Your pot could be filled deeper than this--ran out of apples!
We use a large pot--any pot 5 quarts or better will do. Wash and peel your apples (anywhere from six large to 9 medium or smaller apples). Chop the apples into chucks no larger than an inch thick. Discard the cores--into your compost bin, of course, along with the peelings. Take your chunks and place them in your pot with enough water to cover the bottom of the pot. About a cup of water ought to do, but use more if your pot is larger and needs a bit more liquid to get the bottom covered (about a quarter of an inch). The apples will cook down, so you can load up the pot. Just make sure the lid still fits.
Start the heat on medium unless you're willing to stand over it and supervise. When the contents begin to bubble, reduce the heat to simmer. If the water evaporates and you hear sizzling, add a bit more water. When stirring alone begins to mash the apples, turn off the heat, leaving the lid in place. After the contents cool, stir to the desired consistency. We like ours chunky, so stirring is kept to a minimum.
Just about to stir in the spices...
Spices are optional, but we use about a 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon, an 1/8 of a teaspoon of nutmeg and up to 1/4 cup of sugar, depending on the variety of apple used. Stir these in during that final phase of cooling. From start to finish--a little over half an hour.
With this volume, you'll probably be able to fill a couple one-quart containers that are freezer-friendly. You may soon find that applesauce becomes one of your favorite side-dishes! Especially if you grow your own apples!
In Western North Carolina, we have several varieties grown in commercial agriculture. For the home grower, many of these can be purchased as specimens that can be espaliered or even grown in pots. So even if you rent your home, you can grow apples! Apples do need to cross-pollinate, so be sure there is another apple tree in your immediate area--or even a crabapple that blooms at the same time as the cultivar that you choose. If you intend to plant two to cover your bases, make sure they are NOT the same variety, but that they do overlap in their bloom periods. I hope I don't need to remind you to not spray pesticides, as you will kill the bees that do the pollinating for you.
Location, location, location: make sure you plant your apple tree(s) in full sun and in an area that drains well. Apple trees grown in pots will need compost, or compost tea, annually. You can plant your tree from late fall through early spring here in North Carolina. Fortuitously, nurseries have trees and shrubs on sale at this time of year--perhaps you should go get one!
Where to buy locally: