Okay, it’s official: the space heaters are OUT in my 100+ year-old apartment. And the harvest is slowing down. Like, a LOT. At least in the garden I tend at Walthams Fields. With a group of volunteers a few days back, any remnants of summer were ripped out of the ground and thrown into the compost bin, making way for cover crops and (maybe?) another round of cut greens, but not much else.
Last night was a MAJOR cookdown in my apartment. I got another batch of apple butter rocking in the slow-cooker, started macerating another load of Italian plums for more plum jam, made two batches of marinated dehydrated eggplant, started another pot of apple peel vinegar, annnnd cooked and canned two batches of applesauce.
The first batch of sauce was 100% apple: about 9 lbs of cored, peeled, and quartered Cortlands with a pint or so of local apple cider, just to keep them from sticking to the stockpot. For the second batch, I wanted something that was still healthy and low-sugar, but a little more jazzy. The addition of fresh cranberries, OJ, and pure maple syrup makes for a pleasantly-tart and beautifully-hued sauce.
Yields about 8 pints
- about 5 lbs apples, cored, peeled, and quartered (I used Cortlands)
- 36 oz fresh cranberries, whole
- 2 cups fresh-squeezed orange juice
- 3/4 cup pure maple syrup
- finely-grated orange zest to taste, if desired
WARNING: Applesauce gets nice and bubbly as it cooks; take care not to get a burnt by it. Use the pot’s lid as a shield when stirring to keep molten sauce in the pot and off of you.
In a large, non-reactive pot, combine all ingredients. Cook the mixture, covered, over med-high heat until the apples are soft (read: you can mash them down with a wooden spoon) and the cranberries have burst to make the sauce a lovely shade of pink; be sure to stir frequently to prevent sticking and scorching. If desired, carefully puree the mixture using an immersion blender. Return the mixture to a boil, again, stirring often; turn off heat and immediately begin to ladle hot sauce into hot jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles, wipe rims, and adjust two-piece caps. Process pints and quarts for 20 minutes in a boiling-water bath canner.