There’s a regression happening in food. People are going backward instead of forward (well, unless you count folks like Ferran Adria and Grant Achatz and those of their ilk in the world of “progressive cuisine”). We’re headed back to simpler times, using ingredients that our ancestors might have recognized. We’re shying away from things that are created in laboratories and large factories and opting instead for things that grow in the dirt and are prepared in our own kitchens. Its scandalous, really. We’re bucking the system. Such rebels.For many of us, this is the impetus for that rebellion. As parents, we want what’s best for our kids. We want them to be happy and healthy, we want them to succeed and to be the best “them” they can be. These little lives? They’re precious, absolutely priceless. And we, as their parents, are responsible for those lives. Why we wouldn’t want to lay the best possible foundation for them is beyond me.
Part of that is preparing the best possible food for them – and that means getting in the kitchen and cooking. In our house, it means chopping vegetables, peeling apples, making stock from scratch and baking bread. It means we shy away from the center aisles of the grocery store and stick to the perimeter, buying only those things that came directly from a plant or animal. In many cases, it means taking time out of our busy schedules to go stand in line in a parking lot to pick up our pastured meat, or schlepping out to the chicken coop in the rain to get the eggs off the nest. It takes some effort, it’s certainly not always convenient, but it’s completely worth it.
It’s apple season in Georgia right now. We’ve got another month or so before it comes to an end, but I always feel like I have to stock up on crisp, juicy local apples while the gettin’s good. We’ll eat a good number of them whole, as they make excellent lunch-box additions and handy afternoon snacks; the rest will be broken down and processed in some form or fashion to make them last through the winter and into spring (if, that is, we don’t gobble them all up in the first month – we do love our apples in this house).
We’ve planted three apple trees in our backyard, but they are not yet bearing fruit. I imagine it will be another two or three years before they begin to produce in any measurable quantity. Luckily, we live within decent driving distance of a number of apple orchards, all of which produce a nice variety of heirloom apples.If you’re looking to get started in the world of food preservation, may I suggest that you start with applesauce? It’s one of the simplest things you can make, and it takes very little time from start to finish. The only ingredients are apples and water (and really, some people don’t even count water as an ingredient), and the most time consuming part of the recipe is the peeling and coring of the apples. I guess if you have one of those fancy-dancy apple peeler/corer contraptions, then even that isn’t a big deal for you. For this batch of applesauce, I chose to use a combination of tart Winesaps and sweet Pink Ladies. I’ve been making applesauce for almost 6 years now, and I have to say I think this is the best version I’ve ever made. I never add sweetener to my applesauce – why would you? Apples contain so much natural fructose, it seems like overkill to sweeten them further. Sometimes I’ll throw a cinnamon stick in the mix, just for a little added depth, but this time around it was the definition of simplicity. Apples. In all their autumnal glory. That is all.
prep time: 20 minutes
cook time: 30-45 minutes
processing time: 15 minutes
- 24 medium-sized apples, peeled, cored and cut into large dice
- Add 1 inch of water to a large stock pot
- Add the peeled, cored and diced apples
- Cook over medium heat until apples have softened. The time on this will vary, given the type of apple you use. My Pink Ladies broke down much faster than the Winesaps did. Keep an eye on it, you don’t want it to stick and scorch.
- Mash with a potato masher, or puree using a stick blender or food processor
- Ladle hot sauce into hot, sterilized pint jars
- Process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes
It really is that simple. And you won’t believe how good it tastes – I promise. It is so much better than any commercially produced applesauce you can buy. In fact, I purchased some natural applesauce not long ago from a well-known name brand with no added sweetener. It tasted like nothing – it was soupy and watery, and it had absolutely no flavor. When I tasted the batch I made yesterday, it was like a revelation. Sweet, tart, pure apple flavor. My youngest gobbled up the overflow in about six seconds.
It may seem silly to call this a rebellion. I realize we’re not marching in the streets and overthrowing governments. It’s a quiet movement, one that’s happening in homes and communities. It’s a rebellion about education, about our health, about our children. We’re changing the future one family at the time. We’re telling the advertisers and the industrial food conglomerates that we don’t want them to brainwash our children, we don’t believe their hype about their chemically-laden, processed and packaged “convenience” foods. We’re recognizing that it’s okay to spend time in the kitchen, that it’s actually necessary for the health of our families. It’s certainly not always easy, and we’re all probably guilty of falling prey to the occasional convenience food. But at least we’re trying to make a difference.
This post is part of Eating Rules October: Unprocessed challenge.