Photo credit Alex J Harris
The theme at Ina’s Garden this week is Fall Family Favorites. I chose to make Ina’s Homemade Applesauce because a big part of fall to me is those wonderful warm, spicy smells wafting through the house and the sweet taste of apples, pears, plums and other seasonal fruit.
When I was a kid growing up in Canada, applesauce was a big deal. It was something you ate regularly, and could buy in myriad variations in the store, as well as making it yourself from scratch. I can remember peeling apples with my Grandpa, trying to peel the skin off each apple in one piece. If you managed that, so he told me, you could then throw the peel on the floor and it would form the letter of the first name of the person you were going to marry. While I can testify to the inaccuracy of that superstition, it did teach me to peel apples carefully, and I almost always get the skin off in one piece!
I was attracted to Ina’s applesauce, because instead of simmering away on the stove, it quietly roasts in the oven. So you only need to peel, core and quarter the apples, not chop them in small pieces. You also don’t have to watch it quite as closely as applesauce made on the top of the stove. And then there were the ingredients Ina adds – butter, brown sugar, spices, orange and lemon juice and peel. My mouth was watering just reading about it. When I made applesauce as a kid, we added water, sugar and maybe some cinnamon, that was it!
I decided to add some pears to the recipe, because I had some that needed to be used up. So of the total of 6 pounds of apples Ina recommends, I used 4 pounds of apples and 2 pounds of pears. I didn’t have any of the apple varieties Ina suggests, but used two or three different British varieties that sounded similar. Because I didn’t use Granny Smith apples, which are very tart, I think I could have added a bit less sugar than the half cup called for, but a bit of extra sweetness really isn’t a problem. Next time though, I would add a quarter cup sugar for the cooking, and then taste the apple sauce at the end, adding more sugar if necessary.
You can find Ina’s Homemade Applesauce recipe here on the Food Network. My variation is below.
Homemade Apple and Pear Sauce
(based on Ina Garten’s Homemade Applesauce)
2 large oranges, zested and juiced
1 lemon, zested and juiced
4 pounds of apples, any variety
2 pounds of pears, any variety
¼ cup soft brown sugar, packed (plus more to taste)
¼ cup unsalted butter
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground allspice
(I used Mixed Spice)
Place the zest and juices of the oranges and lemon in a large bowl. Peel, quarter and core the apples and pears (reserving the peel of two of the red apples) and toss them in the juice.
Pour the apples, pears, reserved peel and juice into a nonreactive Dutch oven or enamelled iron pot. Add the brown sugar, butter and spices and cover the pot. Bake for 1½ hours, or until all the apples and pears are soft.
Remove and discard the red apple peel. Mix with a whisk until smooth. Taste, and whisk in more sugar if necessary. Serve warm or at room temperature.
As you can see from the photo above, we enjoyed our Apple and Pear Sauce warm with ice cream. It would be delicious served alongside a nice piece of roast pork, or just all by itself!