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Sunday, October 24

An Apple A Day...

We've all heard it..."an apple a day keeps the doctor away".  Have you ever wondered why that saying is so popular?  It's actually very simple...apples are absolutely fantastic for you.  Low calorie, satisfying, and rich in fiber.  The saying originated in 19th century Wales, but the health benefits of apples have a history dating back to the CAVEMEN!!  Seriously, there are actually cave paintings of apple trees and people eating them.

So, how to add more to your diet, without having to tote an apple everywhere you go?  How about applesauce...it's actually VERY easy to make, tastes how YOU want it to (just spice it how you like it), and if you use the RIGHT type of apples, there's very little added sugar. 

Now, for applesauce, you want to go with a sweeter apple.  No Granny Smiths for this, no sir.  While Granny Smith apples are the tops for cooking, they are rather sour, and require rather copious amounts of sugar to counter it.  No, for this, you want some of the sweeter varieties...and trust me, there are PLENTY to choose from.  Fuji, Jonagold, Gala, Red or Gold Delicious, Winesap, Honeycrisp, and Pink Lady are some of the top choices.  Of these, the Fuji, Gala, Honeycrisp, and Jonagold are also the perfect texture.  For my recipe, I'm using Fuji...but that's just a personal choice.  Try different varieties, and find the one that just DOES it for you!!

You're next trick to remember is very simple...let the apples age just a little before using.  Put them in a bowl on the counter, and let them stand, room temp, for about 3-4 days before using.  This does 2 things.  First, it allows them to mature a little more, making them even sweeter, and second, it actually makes them slightly easier to peel.

So, do I have you all fired up to make some homemade goodness?  Let's go!!

HOMEMADE APPLESAUCE

4 large apples (I highly recommend Fuji or Honeycrisp), peeled, cored, and chunked
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup or less sugar (to taste)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Place the prepared apples into a good size saucepot (at least 3 quart).  Add the water, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  You want to cook them until they are quite soft, and easy to mash.

Remove from heat, and add sugar, a little at a time, until it's the sweetness you want.  When you have it just right, add the cinnamon, and blend well.  Using a potato masher, mash the apples until they are how you like them...you can leave a few chunks, or smash away until it's completely smooth...the choice is yours!!  Makes 4 servings, or 2 cups of applesauce.

Now, for those who are priviledged to live close to apple country (or a local farmers market), apples are at the height of their season right now, and if you're like me, you plan for it...which means canning and preserving.  Making applesauce for canning is REALLY simple!!  All you do is this:

1) Choose how many jars you want to make (the recipe makes 1 pint, so simply)
2) Prepare your jars (check my link under Instructional)
3) Fill the jars to 1/2 inch of the top, and put on the 2-part lids, sealing to finger tightness.
4) Process in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes (that's for pints...30 minutes for quart jars)
5) Remove, allow to cool, and check for your seal (centers of lids are depressed)

That's it folks!!  I'll have more apple recipes coming, but right now, I have 1/2 bushel of Fuji apples I need to get started on.  ENJOY!!





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