The apples are ripe and I’ve been making applesauce galore. It is definitely the time of the year for that project. I’ve eaten some of it, given away some of it, and the rest has been put in the freezer.
I have been getting apples from my Becker Farms CSA (community supported agriculture) share, Thompson Farm, and the weekly farmers market. Years ago, when my mother started teaching me how to make applesauce, she impressed upon me the importance of using at least three different types of apples to add color and flavor to the applesauce.
As I was walking to the Thompson farm, I noticed the crab apple tree. It produces tiny apples in bunches. These apples are very tart. I like the sensation of sour but these itty bitty apples are almost too much.
What would happen if I collected a bunch of crab apples for the applesauce? I decided to challenge myself to find out. It would be my experiment.
I decided that there’s only one way to find out! Go for it! Which I did. I made a beeline for that tree and began collecting bunches of those hard little crab apples. Then I walked to the farm, where I purchased three types of apples: Crispin, Jonagold, and honey crisp. I already had a whole bunch of Empire apples, which came with my CSA share on Friday. On my walk back home, I collected more of the hard little crab apples.
Yesterday, I made the applesauce and discovered that I had more than two and a half cups worth of those little crab apples. I also discovered that cutting them was quite the challenge. They are very hard and they are full of small seeds.
Eventually, I just chopped them in half and removed the stems and hoped for the best.
What was the result of the experiment? First, the crab apples, being very hard, needed more cooking time than did the other apples. Also, the crab apples added a great deal of tartness to the applesauce. They are much more sour than Granny Smith apples, which are considered to be among the tartest of apples. The applesauce tasted as if I had already added the juice of one or two lemons.
So, instead of adding the juice of three lemons, which is what I normally add, I cut it back to one lemon, mainly for the purpose of adding moisture. I also added honey (I buy raw local honey at the farm), grated lemon peel, and cinnamon. And then did my taste test. I was happy with the result. Cutting back on the lemon juice was definitely a good idea.
Much of the applesauce went into the freezer. It will be a fine addition to my Thanksgiving dinner next month.
In the next few weeks, I will plan on roasting my pumpkins, and that, too, will go into the freezer, to be turned into a Thanksgiving delicacy. Life is good when you have lots of locally grown food to eat and to share.
Would I repeat the crab apple experiment? The applesauce turned out to be delicious but chopping those little apples was a great deal of extra work so I don’t know. But if I really just didn’t have enough apples for a full batch of applesauce, then yes. In small quantities, for sure. (note: Today’s dinner consisted of food mostly obtained from local farmers: a pork chop with a sauce flavored with apricot jam, roasted yam and apple, and the applesauce.)