When we were children, we would go to Connecticut to visit my mother’s parents. Granddaddy Foster was a farmer in his bones and his retirement years were spent perfecting the most beautiful little farm in Ridgefield. On his acre or so of land he grew tons of vegetables and flowers. My very favorite area was a little mini orchard full of fruit trees — mostly apple as I recall.
My grandparents were great “putter-uppers.” They canned all manner of fruits and vegetables, most notably Bread and Butter Pickles and Pink Applesauce. Eating that applesauce was one of the highlights of my visits with them. The pink color came from cooking the apples with the skin on, which is actually the best way to get all of the nutrients from the fruit.
I’m sharing my grandmother’s delicious recipe. It really isn’t all that different from other applesauce recipes that I’ve seen, but to me it’s special because of the memories it brings back.
The only thing I’ve changed is substituting honey for sugar. If your apples are really sweet, you might not even need the honey. I prefer to use organic Macintosh apples, but they are really hard to find and a bit pricey, so I’ve been substituting Fujis which are really good too. You can use any naturally sweet apple. Try combining different types of apples to create your own special mix.
Another tip is to remember that the apples don’t have to be perfect. You can often get a good deal on a bulk buy of less-than-perfect apples at the farmers market if you ask (nicely, of course).
Grandmother Foster’s Pink Applesauce
- 16 cups of apples, cored and cut into wedges, peels on
- 1 cup of water (start out with this, you can add more towards the end if necessary)
- 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp ground ginger
- 1/8 tsp ground cloves
- 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
- 2 – 3 tablespoons honey, or to taste
Sterilize your jars, bring your canning pot to a boil and put your lids in a small pot to simmer. Place the apples, lemon juice and water in a large stock pot. Bring to a boil and cook over medium heat until the apples are soft.
When apple are nearly done, add the spices and the honey. Cook for a few minutes more. If you want smooth applesauce and are using a food mill the skins will be left behind in the mill. For immersion blenders or if you want a chunky applesauce, remove the skins while the apples are cooking. Blend for a smooth sauce, or smash the cooked apples with a wooden spoon or potato masher for a chunkier sauce.
After putting the apples through the mill or blending, return the applesauce to a boil and ladle into your prepared jars, leaving 1/2″ headspace. Remove air bubbles, wipe rims completely clean and put on the lids.
Put jars into the hot water bath and process for 15 or 20 minutes — start timing when the water returns to a boil. If you’re at an altitude higher than 1,000 feet above sea level, process 2 extra minutes for each 1,000 feet of altitude.
Remove from hot water bath and listen for the lovely “ping” of the lids as the jars cool and seal themselves.
Leave the jars to cool for 24 hours. Wipe them to remove any sticky traces, remove the rings, and check the seal. Then label the jars and store them in a cool, dark place for up to one year.