Roasted Applesauce

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.

Roxbury Russet apples

Roxbury Russet apples--see the end of this post for the history of this variety

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.

It’s almost like apple pie without the crust.
Roasted applesauce

Roasted Applesauce  (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.

NotesI didn’t can this applesauce (I have never tried canning applesauce, in fact) as it went fast enough on its own.  But I wonder if you could?).  The first time I made this, my eyes skipped over the instructions to cover for the initial roasting.  And it turned out fine.

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.

Other posts on applesauce here, here, at Nikki’s, and at Renee’s

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10 thoughts on “Roasted Applesauce

  1. Oh YUM! I love the way this sounds and have been wanting to try this method. Hoping to buy a bushel of apples this weekend and give it a go. I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t can it just like any other apple sauce (I plan to do it that way).

      • Finally got a chance to try roasting applesauce today and it’s great. After roasting, I put it through a food mill to make it smooth (the way we like it) and have just finished canning 14 pints of it. Will let you know later if the texture changes at all, but I think it looks great in the jars. Thanks again for the recipe!

  2. Wow, love this applesauce! I’m going to make it today. And it will be gone by tonight. I like learning about the Roxbury Russett! So cool to find heirloom varieties.

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  4. That sounds sooooo good. Every time that I come to this site I know that I am going to find something that I Have to have. Thanks for the great recipe, but not for the three to five pounds that I will likely put on.

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