It’s about time that I feature an apple recipe. Apples are, after all, the most widely available fruit in North America, and appear in all sorts of stories:
• Eris’s, the goddess of Discord’s, golden apple and the Judgment of Paris in Greek mythology
• The apple that tempted Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden
• Snow White’s poison apple
• Johnny Appleseed
• Sir Isaac Newton and that thing called gravity
Historians speculate that apples probably came from an area near the Caspian Sea, between modern day China and Uzbekistan, and that the fruit was a product of centuries of evolutionary cross of an Asiatic crab apple with a European crab apple.
When European colonists brought apple varieties to the New World, the fruit became a commodity-not for eating though! I mentioned in a previous post that those colonists loved hard cider. By 1820, cider was not only the national beverage of America, but also a valuable currency for bartering! It was through these cider orchards that apple cultivation really took off, with thousands of new varieties. Apples in America experienced another makeover in the 20th century as immigrants from Japan, China, Australia, New Zealand, and elsewhere brought new varieties. Consumers began to expect more from their apples: taste as well as appearance and storage life became essential. The result? Forgotten apple varieties, such as one of my personal favorites, the Northern Spy, became accessible again (although only at farmer’s markets and small operations…the Delicious varieties continue to dominate grocery stores even today).
I’ll take this rare opportunity to show off my awesome horticulture knowledge (yes, I worked at a garden center for five seasons). Every seed is a new variety of apple-unlike you and me, apples do not automatically inherit the genetic composition of their parents. Did you know that apples are actually a member of the rose family? Quite the romantic fruit, yes? Just don’t go crazy and exchange the exquisite bouquet of roses for a bushel of apples, ok?
For further reading:
Browning, Frank. Apples: The Story of the Fruit of Temptation. New York: North Point Press, 1998. Smith, Andrew. “Apples.” In The Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink, ed. Andrew Smith, 21-22. New York, Oxford University Press, 2007. http://www.orangepippin.com/resources/apple-facts/where-did-apples-come-from
Apples are one of my favorite fruits, with the tart and crunchy varieties being my first choice for eating fresh. When making applesauce, I like to use few different kinds in order to develop a more complex and interesting flavor. If your supermarket sells discounted totes of apples, go for those. Otherwise, Golden Delicious, McIntosh, Galas, Cameos, Fujis, and Jonagolds are really good for sauce. The cranberries and cinnamon add a really nice zing.
12 medium apples
1 cup fresh or frozen whole cranberries
¼ cup water
3-4 cinnamon sticks
A dash of nutmeg and/or cloves
1) Wash and core apples. You can peel skins if you want, but I leave mine on to add fiber and save time.
2) Slice apples into 6-8 pieces.
3) Place apple slices and water into a 4-6 quart pot.
4) Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer. Add cinnamon sticks and ginger.
5) Stir frequently as apples begin to soften.
6) Add cranberries just as apples are getting mushy (should take about 15 minutes).
7) Continue cooking on low until cranberries pop and apples are completely soft. (You may want to cover pot and stir every few minutes to avoid cranberries from staining you, the wall, or the table as they pop).
8) Remove cinnamon sticks if you wish (I leave mine in)
9) Use an immersion blender, spatula, or fork to mash and smooth the sauce.
10) Eat with latkes, on top of cottage cheese, yogurt, or oatmeal, or on its own!