As you know, we came back with quite a haul of apples the other weekend from Westward Orchards. Some inevitably were pilfered by little hands, others were reborn in a pie, still more made their way into apple butter, and the remainder found a higher calling in applesauce.
Higher calling? Applesauce? Yes. If you’ve ever made applesauce, you know it’s incredibly easy. Just quarter and core your apples and simmer with a bit of water until soft. If you don’t want to take the trouble to puree them, you can simply smash with the broad side of a spoon for a rustic version. And if you have a food mill, you could even dispense with the peeling and coring, as it will do that work for you as you crank the apples through.
This is how I’ve been making applesauce for a while, and why question it? Here’s where that higher calling bit comes in: As is true for so many other ingredients, it turns out that roasting your apples takes basic applesauce to a new level. (And the best part is, it’s just as easy!)
Roasting brings out more depth of flavor, with a slight caramelization around the edge of each chunk of fruit. You can puree it if that’s your preference, but I think a hearty, spoon-smashed texture complements the robust flavors.
The apples pictured are Roxbury Russets, which are believed to be one of the oldest varieties of apples in the United States, discovered in the 1700s in (where else) Roxbury, now part of Boston. A true Bay State heirloom! They are crisp and tart, a bit like a Granny Smith, speckled with tiny white dots. I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled for these next season.
Adapted from the amazing Zuni Cafe Cookbook by Judy Rodgers
- 4lb apples
- 2-3T sugar (optional)
- a few pats of butter
- Heat the oven to 375F. Peel, core, and quarter your apples. Arrange in a casserole dish and cover tightly with aluminum foil or a lid. Roast for 20-30 minutes, or until the apples soften. You can stir a bit to help things along. (Note: this particular batch took almost 45 minutes to reach this point, perhaps because they were so fresh?). When the apples start to break down, remove the foil and raise the heat to 475F. Roast an additional 10 minutes or until the apples caramelize a bit and cook off some of the moisture. Remove from oven and break down into an applesauce with a spoon or a fork.