When I think “apple picking,” I picture cool fall days, sweaters, hot cider, and crunching leaves on the ground. I do not imagine 95 degree weather, storm clouds blowing in violently, and getting caught in a torrential downpour.
But remember a few weeks ago when I wrote about NOT taking the kids peach picking? Well, my mom was in town visiting last week, and when she’s here we have to up our game a bit. She’s not one to just laze around, so on one of the hottest, grossest days of the summer we decided to pack the kids in the car and drive an hour away to go…peach picking. Yeah, that didn’t turn out so well. If you hadn’t noticed, it’s September now and peaches should have been picked around a month ago. So to satisfy the 3 year old in our midst, we managed to pull around a dozen unripe green peaches from the fruitless trees, and my vision of homemade peach ice cream for dessert that night was promptly shattered.
But luckily there was a silver lining to this ridiculous outing. Honeycrisp apples are in season now in New Jersey! We hadn’t intended to apple pick this early, (in fact, I didn’t even know it was possible,) but it was the saving grace to our day, and we hauled out 13 pounds of gorgeous crispy tart apples. We’re an apple family, and Pink Ladies and the ones we got are our favorites. Because we go picking every October, we’ve always been way too late for Honeycrisps, which happen to be one of the earliest varieties available. So this really did feel like a bonus, and made our entire crew happy. (And let me tell you, we needed a dose of happy because there was a whole lot of crank going on.)
I want to tell you that my first thought was “Apple Pie!” But here’s my confession: I’ve never made one before. I know, you’re probably thinking, “how can I possibly be reading this woman’s food blog if she’s never made an apple pie? Isn’t that one of the most basic things people in this country make?” Well, yeah, it might be. And around a dozen years ago I marked a recipe for this amazing sounding Apple Pie with a Cheddar Cheese Crust, and went so far as to make the dough and stick it in the freezer, but I never actually got around to baking it. (It’s a bit embarrassing.) So no, you’re not getting an apple pie post here. I’m sorry.
My first thought was actually, “Applesauce!” Because applesauce is one of my ultimate comfort foods, and it takes such little effort to make it homemade. It’s something my mom loves, and so I’d frequently find it on her stove when I was a kid. Especially at Hanukkah, when it was mandatory to have sweet fresh applesauce to serve with the salty crisp potato latkes she would fry up. When my kids were first eating solid foods, I would make it all the time, but I admit that I buy the little pre-packaged cups at the market way too often these days to stuff in lunchboxes. There’s nothing particularly wrong with them. There’s no added sugar, or funky ingredients, but it’s a waste of money and plastic and I never feel really good about it.
Because I know homemade applesauce, with just a touch of vanilla and cinnamon, tastes ten times better than anything you can buy in the store.
Really. It’s just so easy to make. Crazy easy, that posting a recipe seems a little silly. But then again, I am always surprised when people tell me they’ve never had it homemade before! So if it hasn’t been on your radar, maybe this will inspire you to peel some apples and let them simmer on your stove, filling your whole house with the smells of warm apple pie, but without all the work. The vanilla and cinnamon aren’t very obvious, but give a hint of sweetness and fall that just makes you feel cozy. Healthy, with no extra sugar, there’s just no way to mess this up. I love it straight from the pot, but you can also pack your own little containers for lunches, or throw a few into the freezer to have on hand.
*Oh, by the way, it wasn’t such a tragedy to skip the peach ice cream, so don’t go worrying about me or anything. Because I decided to make some chocolate ice cream that night instead. And yes, I have a recipe to share with you, but since I seem to be posting chocolate, chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate on here lately, I think I may wait a few weeks to share it. For the sake of balance and all. Then again, can there ever be too much chocolate? Not in my world.
Homemade Applesauce with Vanilla and Cinnamon is warm and comforting, and so simple to make.The vanilla and cinnamon aren't very obvious, but give a hint of sweetness and fall that just makes you feel cozy. Healthy, with no extra sugar, there's no way to mess this up. I love it straight from the pot, but you can also pack your own little containers for lunches, or throw a few into the freezer to have on hand.
- 3 lbs. of your favorite apples (I used 8 medium sized Honeycrisps)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
*You can make as large a batch of applesauce as fits into your pot, so go ahead and make a ton and then freeze it.
**The vanilla and cinnamon are light in this recipe, but you can increase both to a teaspoon and you will have even more sense of pie.
***Sometimes I add in fresh lemon juice, or a random mix of fall spices (think nutmeg, cloves, allspice and cardamon.)
***Feeling lazy? My mom never peeled the apples growing up, so we always had the skin mixed in, and it's great texture. You can leave it that way, or when it is finished cooking down, use a handheld immersion blender to puree everything right in the pot.