Me: Hi, Grandma! It’s Bryn.
Grandma: Hi, darlin’!
Me: So, I have a question for you. I found myself a 5-pound bag of Lodi apples at a farm stand this weekend and thought I’d make applesauce. But I don’t remember how you do it.
Grandma: Oh, OK. Well, first you’ve gotta peel and core your apples.
Me: That’s what I was afraid of.
Grandma: Slice them up and put them in a pan with just a little bit of water. And I always add a pinch of salt.
Me: Half an inch of water?
Grandma: No, not that much. You don’t want watery applesauce. Cook it until it gets nice and soft; I always stir with a fork.
Me: And sugar?
Grandma: Well, it doesn’t take much. When it’s cooked, then add your sugar. Maybe a quarter of a cup. Then put it into jars and, when they’re cooled, put them in the freezer.
Me: Thanks, Grandma!
Grandma: You’re welcome, darlin’. Have fun with your apples.
Lodi or Transparent apples are the best choices for applesauce. They’re early-season apples; the Lodis I used were smallish, firm-fleshed, dry and tart. They had relatively large, tough cores, and small white seeds. Lodi and Transparent apples yield sauce that’s thick and smooth and not grainy or mealy, like perfect mashed potatoes. Grandma’s applesauce is a fixture of our family holiday meals come November and December.
As it is with such things, you will find yourself rather disappointed by the yield. Eyeing the huge pile of apples I had to peel and core, I guessed I’d get 6 pints of sauce. Heck, I figured I’d be nice and share one with the neighbors. I wound up with 3 pints (no sharing). But it tastes like Grandma’s. Almost.
grandma’s applesauce recipe
1/2 peck (5 pounds) or about 16 Lodi or Transparent apples
1/2 cup water
pinch of salt
1/4 cup sugar, plus more to taste
Core, peel and slice apples. Place in a large, heavy pot with a pinch of salt and 1/2 cup of water. (You’ll think this isn’t enough water. You’ll be wrong.) Turn heat to medium. Cook, stirring frequently. (I started with a wooden spoon and quickly switched to stirring with a fork, as Grandma had suggested, as the apples began to break down. Grandma’s always right.) Within about 5 minutes, the apples on the bottom of the pan will begin disintegrating. Keep cooking and stirring constantly so the applesauce doesn’t stick or scorch, about 30 minutes. Careful: Hot applesauce can bubble and splatter. When you’ve stirred out almost all the lumps (and certainly the big ones), stir in 1/4 cup of sugar. The texture will be thick, like well-cooked oatmeal; add a bit of water if you prefer a thinner sauce. I like a tart applesauce, though I did add another scant tablespoon to my batch once I’d tasted it. Spoon applesauce into 1-pint canning jars or freezer containers; cool to room temperature before freezing.