Loading up the truck with kids and food in the market parking-lot, I turned to a friendly voice behind us asking, “would you like some apples?” The man was one I had seen in the community for years who always had a smile and a nod, long white hair tied back in a ponytail, jeans clearly worn from good work on the land.
A mother of three can’t turn down free apples, fresh from the tree or three months old, but this gentleman-hippy, seeping with kindness, offered a box of perfectly preserved Galas from fall and guaranteed they were gooduns.’ Surprise mingled with delight as we accepted the offer and he quickly hopped back to his truck to carry over a big box.
Dropping the box and disappearing speedy and silent, I couldn’t even catch a name. His ethic was to give simply out of the possibility of doing so and to offer what he had without name or asking for thanks. This is true generosity, the way our Creator means for each of us to care for one and other.
Charity: it’s meaning is not in giving a portion of your paycheck when your own already have the best and there’s someone who obviously has less (although that’s one form); real charity is giving with abandon and without ever hoping for recognition, because it’s right, because it’s just, and it is how we all merely survive ~ by true love.
These Galas aren’t the leftovers, the ‘bottom of the barrel,’ they are what would be considered by most to be the perfect apple. Sweet, crisp and delicious, these apples have clearly been kept at just the right temperature since September, and we all eat them daily.
According to most horticulturists, apples will store best at 30-32°F with 90% humidity, but the basement or mudroom generally does the trick.
The time does come when crispness wears thin, and then it’s time to sauce. Most folks in the Methow have apples in store that reach this point, a box that is destined for saucing in winter.
This year’s autumn applesauce was arguably the best ever. Seemingly simple, even apple sauce takes finesse to achieve thickness without scalding, flavor balance and correct preservation in the canning process. Here, through many years of experimental recipes, is how we’ve achieved succulent sauce.
This recipe utilizes a hand crank food mill for method in smashing down the apples to extract the maximum pulp and nutritional value of the fruit. It is highly satisfying to master as it illuminates much skinning and cutting as well as electronic devices. The food mill is used in various canning techniques and is worth purchase for long term hands-on cooking methodology.
Thick & Spiced Applesauce Recipe
Apples in abundance (flavorful ones like Galas, Honey-crisps and Goldens are all good; ‘watery’ apples like red delicious or Granny Smiths are not preferred)
1 c Sugar, or to taste
1 T Cinnamon, or to taste
1/2 t Nutmeg or to taste
Quart or pint sized canning jars
New lids, old bands
Hand Crank Food Mill
~Drop apples in the sink and give a good rinse; go into production mode and cut each apple in quarters, and drop them in large sauce pot, seeds, stems and skins still on, with a couple inches of water to avoid sticking; when sauce pot is fill to the brim, bring to a steam and simmer on medium heat, stirring frequently to prevent sticking; the key is to add enough water to barely cook the apples but not more than absolutely necessary to avoid a watery sauce.
~While apples are softening, heat boiling water canner with jars within to a full boil for ten minutes to sanitize jars; place lids and bands in a small bowl to pour over with boiling water as well.
~When apples are softened, skins beginning to peal off, remove from heat; in manageable increments, pour apple mix into food mill placed over a large pan or bowl; crank down apples until all skins, seeds and stems are removed and return apple sauce to sauce pot; this will take several rounds but by this method, absolutely none of the fruit is wasted and the maximum nutritional value of the skins goes into the sauce.
~Reheat applesauce on medium, stirring frequently, and season to liking with sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg; when sauce is at a simmer, it is ready to can; be sure jars are removed and water is returned to a boil.
~Carefully pour applesauce into jars with 1/2 inch head space remaining; insert knife into each to remove air bubbles; wipe jar edges well with a clean cloth dipped in boiling water to remove spills; quickly screw on hot lids and place jars in canner.
~Process at a full boil for 15 minutes for pints, 25 minutes for quarts; remove from canner and let stand 12-24 hours to set.
Thank you gentleman hippy friend, whoever you are! We happily eat your apples, make crisps and pies and sauce whatever is left!
Love from our kitchen pantry to yours, Georgina @ Soul & Stomach