There’s a picture of my parents at a cider pressing party in the early 70’s. They look impossibly hip, my Dad in his thick rimmed glasses and thick, curly hair, my Mom in a fabulous sweater, her hair nearly white-blonde. It’s New England in the fall, the press is a large wooden barrel and they could be in any fashion editorial today.
I grew up in New England where the scent of apples defined fall as much as the shuffling of crisp leaves was its soundtrack. We ate crisp McIntosh apples daily. Less frequently we enjoyed cider donuts, apple crisp, baked apples and fresh cider. Apple sauce was homemade, pink from the skins and warm from the stove. It was always made with a food mill, with children doing most of the work.
What sounds downright pastoral today was just life, growing up. I wish I had treasured it a bit more, but I’m grateful for having been blessed with the opportunity to take it for granted. It makes the fresh sauce I cook at home that much more special. And using the food mill is still more fun than work.
The mix of apples you use will determine the sweetness or tartness of the sauce. I prefer about 1/3 tart to 2/3 sweet. Try different mixes to find what you like. Ask your local farmer for advice.
- 4 Honeycrisp apples
- 3 tart apples, like Pound
- 2 cups apple cider
- Nutmeg, cardamom, cinnamon
- Lemon juice
*Do yourself a favor and buy a food mill just for this! It keeps the skins behind and you don’t have to peel any apples. Plus your sauce will be beautifully pink!
- Core apples. Don’t bother peeling them. Cut them into 8 pieces each.
- Place apples and cider in a 4 qt saucepan, cover and simmer over medium heat for 10-15 min until really soft.
- Run apples through a food mill.
- Return sauce to saucepan and season with 1/8 tsp each of nutmeg, cardamom and cinnamon.
- Cook over low heat for five more minutes to develop flavors.
- Add honey or lemon juice as needed.