Homemade Applesauce

Fall is my favorite season for food. Farms ignite with produce, and the market becomes one colorful treat. Pumpkin is the craze (naturally!) with squash not far behind.

A few weeks ago two of my best friends from college flew to Boston from Chicago to visit me for a quintessential New England weekend. While we walked the Freedom Trail and went to a Red Sox game at Fenway, I knew that no New England fall was complete without going apple picking. There is something so satisfying about picking your own produce from the farm. Couple that satisfaction with hayrides and cider doughnuts and, oh man, you have the best day ever.

I chose to take my friends to Russell Orchards in Ipswich, MA. About 50 minutes from the city, Ipswich is unique in the sense that there can be abundant farms just ten minutes away from the ocean. We were able to pick Cortland, Empire, Gala, Gingergold, Jonagold, Macoun, McIntosh, and just the last bit of Honeycrisp apples left on the trees. Apple picking is popular across the country, so plan to go in mid- to late September if you can. Some farms still have apples through October, so it may not be too late to either pick your own or catch your local farmer’s market for their bounty.

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Entering Russell Orchards
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Entering Russell Orchards
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Entering Russell Orchards

After picking ten pounds of apples, it was time to bake!

My Dad always made homemade apple sauce for us in the fall. It’s such a versatile dish, something you can have straight up for breakfast, warm up and ladle over vanilla ice cream, or have on the side with roasted pork tenderloin. The flavors are sweet, spicy, and altogether heartwarming!

Homemade Applesauce

  • 5 lbs. apples (I used a variety from the apples I picked, but I recommend Cortland or McIntosh)
  • 1/2 cup craisens or dried fruit
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1/2 cup orange juice (you can be creative and do 1/4 cup orange juice, and 1/4 cup of your favorite liquor – I used Pimms, my Dad uses rum sometimes)
  • 2 tbs lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Core the apples and cut them into wedges. You can peel the apples if you wish or leave the skin on. Spread the apples out onto your baking dish and add the craisens and/or dried fruit.

3. Warm up the apple cider, brown sugar, orange juice (and liquor if you choose) in a pot, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.

4. Add the lemon juice, nutmeg, and cinnamon to the pot and stir until mixed in thoroughly.

5. Pour the liquid over the apples in your baking dish.

6. Cook the apples for 45 minutes. Make sure the apples have some liquid on them so they don’t dry out too much.

Tummy-warming applesuce
Tummy-warming applesauce

The potential for apple baking is endless. While apple pies, bars, and crisps are amazing, sometimes all you need is some simple applesauce to make your day better.

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The Best Fruit Salad I Ever Made

I attendedĀ dinner party recently to say goodbye to another dear friend of mine moving away. Charged with bringing a sweet treat, I wanted to make something healthy, refreshing, and incredibly delicious. I don’t know why, but for some reason the most random song came to my head – a song from that children’s show The Wiggles my little sister always used to watch and sing around the kitchen. The song repeats the phrase “fruit salad, yummy, yummy” over and over again. Fruit salad. Yes! Perfect choice.

Fruit salad is truly an all-purpose dish. You can have it with breakfast, lunch, dinner (better yet “brinner”), or dessert (especially over vanilla ice cream). While you can make fruit salad by simply chopping and combining your favorite fruits, adding flavors brings a little more “oomph” to it. Fruits like apples and bananas also brown easily when exposed for a period of time. Do you want to serve your guests brown fruit? Do you want to eat brown fruit? I didn’t think so.

My solution? Add honey, cinnamon, lemon juice, and lemon zest. That’s it! This fruit salad tastes like I’m eating freshly made pie filling, but without the inches-on-the-hips adding crust.

Best Fruit Salad
The Best Fruit Salad I Ever Made

 

Best Fruit Salad

Yield: 4 servings

  • 1 banana, sliced
  • 1 cup cubed watermelon
  • 1 apple, chopped (the photo below has two, I chopped one and saw I had enough)
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 cup strawberries, cut into quarters
  • 1/3 cup honey (any kind of honey works – I used clover honey)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon (if you like more, go for it!)
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon (I used just a little less than this)
  • lemon zest, to taste

1. Wash your fruit (the apples, blueberries, and strawberries in this case).

Let's get chopping!
Let’s get chopping!

2. Slice your banana, watermelon, apple, and strawberries. Keep those blueberries whole.

3. Transfer your sliced fruit to a large bowl.

4. Put 1/4 cup of honey into a glass or microwave safe bowl. Warm up the honey for 30 seconds in the microwave so it becomes more liquid.

5. Add the liquified honey to your fruit. Then, add your cinnamon, lemon juice, and lemon zest.

6. Stir all the goodness around in your large bowl. Done!

Note: If you let this fruit salad sit in your fridge for a few hours, the sugar from the honey will bring out the juices in the fruit (this is called maceration). The flavors will mesh even further, and it will taste even more like pie filling. Yum!