The autumn is my time. I’m an early November baby, I love cool Fall afternoons, the foliage in New England is breathtaking, Football + Thanksgiving = America, and boy, do I love me some apples. The same way peaches are sweet, heady, fragrant, and moist like summer, apples are autumn incarnate: crisp, refreshing, sometimes sweet, sometimes tart, and wonderful when paired with cinnamon. Aside from just hoarding them in my refrigerator and eating them raw, I always make several batches of apple sauce throughout the fall growing season. It comes together quickly, lasts for forever in the fridge, and is a great with both sweet and savory dishes. Or, in my case, a spoon.

All delicious. EVEN THE KNIFE.

Four honeycrisp, one golden delicious, and one mutzu. Extra credit if you can tell which ones are which.

The easiest part of the whole process is choosing which apples to use: just go with what you like. I will recommend, though, that you go with at least three different types. A variety of apples will give the sauce more depth of flavor, but more importantly, it will provide texture, which is important for not ending up with a pot full of mush. Unless, of course, you like mush.

Yeah, I get my produce naked FOR REAL.

I went with 4 honeycrisp, (which ironically are tart and become very soft when cooked) , one golden delicious for sweetness and smooth texture, and one mutzu, which stays very firm, even when cooked. The apples need to be peeled and diced, minus the cores and stems. When breaking the apples down, make sure to to cut them into relatively large pieces. Small pieces will only leave you with a pot full of mush. UNLESS, OF COURSE, YOU LIKE MUSH.

Mah pot just OVERFLOWING with diced apple love.

Gonna need a bigger pot? Not at all, the apples cook down to around 50% of their original volume.

Set your pot over medium heat and add both a pinch of kosher salt and about 3/4 of a cup of apple cider or unfiltered apple juice. The liquid will initially help as a preventative measure to keep the apples from burning, and will later add flavor to the finished sauce. Don’t add too much at first, you can always add more at the end if you want to thin out your sauce. Nothing much will happen for the first 12-15 minutes, but just keep stirring the apples.

Brown and browner.

Best friends like brown sugar and cinnamon always travel together.

20 – 25 minutes in, your softer apples will essentially fall apart, creating a base for the sauce. Personally, I turned the heat off at this point, as I like to keep my sauce very chunky and rustic. You can feel free to keep it on low heat while you add the rest of the ingredients if, OF COURSE, YOU LIKE MUSH. I like to keep it light and classic with just some brown sugar and some cinnamon. Also, instead of more apple cider or juice, I go for something a bit stiffer.

apple sauce = sauced.

To those who know me, a bottle of bourbon is never a surprise.

There are multiple reasons for adding liquor to your sauce. Firstly, it adds a wonderful unique touch of flavor. Secondly, just like adding wine or vodka to a tomato sauce, the apples have alcohol-soluble flavors that can only be brought out in the presence of booze. Thirdly, I enjoy the “sauce” wordplay, but that’s not really important. Bourbon is always my liquor of choice, but applejack, a liquor distilled from the fruit themselves and indeed just as American as bourbon, makes sense as well. I add the liquor just after I turned off the heat, as I want the bite to stay in my sauce, but feel free to add it earlier if you want the strength to cook out.

SAWCE.

It doesn't look done, you say? Fuck you, Mama Bear, I'm Goldilocks. It's just right.

The sauce is essentially finished, but you can feel free to smooth out the sauce with a masher for smoother, but still rustic texture. Or, you can use a stick blender if, OF COURSE, YOU LIKE MUSH. I’ll keep it just the way it is, thank you. The pot and the heat did enough for me.

Ingredients

  • Roughly 2.5 pounds of apples, divided among various types
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup of apple cider or unfiltered apple juice, plus more if desired
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1.5 teaspoons cinnamon
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup bourbon (or applejack, if preferred)

Procedure

  1. Peel the apples. They do not need to be perfect, but most of the skin needs to be removed.
  2. Chop the apples into relatively large, even pieces.
  3. Cook over medium heat in a medium or large pot with the cider or juice (and bourbon, if a mellow flavor is desired). Add salt and stir every few minutes until softer apples begin to break down, about 20 to 25 minutes.
  4. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon, and bourbon (if still needed) and stir well. Turn off the heat.
  5. Finish my mashing or blending if a smoother texture is desired. If not, enjoy as is.

– Max.

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