Seasonal Sauce

Last week, my coworker Judith came into the office, excited about a seasonal food discovery she’d made.  “I was trying to figure out what to do with all the potatoes I got in my CSA,” she said.  “And I realized - December’s not that far away and potatoes store well…no wonder latkes are a traditional Chanukah food!”

Judith’s epiphany links her back to the kitchens of our collective Ashkenazi Jewish ancestors, who made food from inexpensive, readily-available ingredients.  What better way to have a delicious, filling meal, than to fry up a bunch of winter root veggies like potatoes?

And, I thought with a swell of “it all makes sense!” elation, what better to top them with than a sauce made of the only fruit that stores as well as potatoes in the winter - apples! Remembering the Hebrew connection put me in even more in a tizzy.  (One of the first things that every Hebrew school student learns is that tapuach means apple and tapuach adamah means “apple of the earth” - potato.)

It was high time, I thought, to make some applesauce.  (Recipe below the jump…)

I’m still facing the onslaught of apples from my own CSA that I mentioned in a post two weeks ago.  But whereas apple salsa seemed an appropriate solution while the weather was warm, it seems a bit frivolous now that it’s finally chilly outside.  I also recently found a food mill in perfect condition that a fellow Brooklynite left on their stoop.  (Don’t worry – that’s universal Brooklyn language for “please take!”)  Even though my mother’s recipe (below) uses a food processor, I might experiment pureeing my applesauce through the food mill.  I’ll keep you posted.

Carol’s Applesauce
My mom used to make applesauce in large batches and freeze half of it for Chanukah.  Like all good Jewish mother recipes, this one is not exact – play around with it until it looks right to you.

Start with about 3 lbs of apples (my mom uses Jonathan, but feel free to experiment).  Core them and cut them into eighths, but leave the skin on to give it a nice pink color.  Cook them in just a tiny bit of water on the bottom…not for long, until they are soft.

When they cool a bit, puree them in batches with regular sugar and cinnamon to taste.  My mom leaves them a little chunky and eliminates as much of the juice at the bottom of the pan as possible.  Once its all pureed, taste for sweetness and spiciness from the cinnamon.  Depending on the apples, sometimes the sauce is richer than other times.

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7 Responses to “Seasonal Sauce”

  1. msk Says:

    That food mill was a great find. According to the great cookbook “How To Cook Everything,” by Mark Bittman, a food mill allows you to make applesauce without even having to core them. Just cut them into halves or quarters and cook the same way (I find adding a little lemon juice as part of the little bit of water is really tasty). Then puree the sauce through the food mill. The skins, seeds, and hard parts of the core stay behind, and you get a smooth sauce with all that flavor left in.

    I haven’t actually tried this; people in my neighborhood don’t seem to abandon food mills on their porches. But Bittman makes a very convincing case for this method.

  2. Michael Greenberg Says:

    “Hebrew connection” is a bit generous. The potato is a New World plant, so there’s no ancient word for it. Modern Hebrew takes a page out of Europe’s book when it comes to naming: pomme de terre and Erdäpfel are the apple-derived French and Austro-German names.

  3. Leah Koenig Says:

    Thanks msk – I’ll try that. My very biased guess, knowing the particular neighborhood where this food mill came from (Park Slope might as well be called Baby Slope), is that it was being used to make baby food and discarded once the child was old enough to eat solid foods…just a hunch.

    Fair enough Michael – though the comparison between apple and earth apple stays the same, regardless of what original language it came from.

  4. Rachel B. Says:

    I made applesauce over the weekend, too. I peeled the apples so I didn’t have to puree (wish I had a food mill!)
    I used brown sugar, a cinnamon stick and some pieces of fresh ginger.
    Yours is so pink!

  5. Leah Koenig Says:

    The ginger sounds great Rachel! The picture actually isn’t mine – it comes from this blog:

    I used it though b/c it so closely resembled the applesauce from my mom’s recipe. The skins really do add a beautiful color.

  6. carol koenig Says:

    Ok, Leah, you motivated me! I bought Jonathan apples today and hope to have some applesauce for you when you come home at Thanksgiving. I have a food mill that belonged to my mother and I did use it to make baby food for you. But for apple sauce, I don’t think enough of the skin goes in. Just my preference.
    Love you, Mom

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