A few weeks ago, before the time changed, before Indian summer departed, before I officially decided it was “soup season”, I had one of the best days of my life.
It was a mega-hot October afternoon that felt incredibly precious and my friends and I knew it would be one of our last chances at a warm adventure. So with nothing but sneakers, sunglasses and a crazy-good Motown mix in tow, we headed to Sebastopol to go apple picking.
Have you ever been before? If not, I highly recommend it. We ended up at Gabriel Farm, a charming little orchard tucked far away from civilization.
An inexpensive CSA membership gets you four giant jugs of cider, a farm tour, full access to the orchards and unlimited play time with Cody, the dog. I have to tell you, for an animal lover like myself, this last detail really sweetens the deal!
From there, you are free to wander the fields looking for the farm’s best apples. They even teach you how to pick the apples, so you don’t end of harming the tree. (For novices out there, it is all about the gentle twist- no branch yanking, please!)
Nothing like a backless sundress and some glitter nail polish to prove that you can take the girl out of the city, but you can’t the city out of the girl!
Or practice stretching…
It was an amazing day and a bountiful harvest, but the best part about the trip happened over a week later… You see, I was a bit overly excited and may or may not have accidentally picked over thirty apples. Maybe it was forty? Either way, there were WAY more than a girl could possibly eat alone, so I had to get creative- and fast!
The groundbreaking discovery? Homemade applesauce is the best! In fact, it doesn’t even taste like the stuff at the store. It’s way better. Almost unrecognizably so. And it is oh-so-easy to make…
All you need is too many apples, some water and some cinnamon sticks. That’s all, and you’re in business! The end result is good warm, good cold, good plain, good for breakfast, good for healthy snacking, REALLY good heated along side a big scoop of ice cream. I’ve made this recipe five times since our Sebastopol adventure, and as we speak, I’m taking bites of a fresh batch in between sentences.
The Petite Aesthete
Hand Mashed Applesauce
8 apples (any kind work, but you’ll want something on the sweeter side)
1 ½ cups water
2 cinnamon sticks
Rinse and peel the apples. Cut apples into large, 1-inch chunks and put them in a pot with the water. Add the cinnamon sticks, taking care to submerge them into the apples and water. Slowly bring this mixture up to a simmer over medium low heat. Cover pot with a lid and continue to cook until apples become soft to the touch, about 30 minutes. If your mixture starts to look a little dry, add a touch more water until cooking is complete. When apples are cooked through, remove the pot from heat and mash the apples with the back of a spoon until desired consistency is reached. This should happen easily. If it doesn’t, cook the apples a few minutes longer.
If you like a very smooth sauce, you can also toss this mixture in the food processor, but I like my applesauce chunky. I also like to store my sauce in a mason jar with the cinnamon sticks still inside, so they slowly perfume the mixture over time. But do what you like… The best thing about this recipe is that it is foolproof and simple. So mix it up! Add some pears and cardamom if you like, or agave to make it taste even more like candy. You can also keep the peels on your red apples to make a bright pink version.