|Traditional applesauce recipe gets California twist
Applesauce colors my childhood memories. I picture the pale ruby sauce in large mason jars steadfastly lining the basement shelf. I never had to ask permission to reach a jar from that shelf, pop the lid off with a can opener, and dive spoon-first into the thick honeyed nectar.
Mom and Dad grew six apple trees on our two-and-a-half-acre yard in rural Illinois. I’m certain my blood is made up of apple juice. Those crisp rosy-skinned fruits taught me as many life lessons as my schoolbooks ever did. I learned discipline by regularly pulling my wagon around the base of the trees, loading rotten fruit for Dad to haul away later. I learned patience in the kitchen as I helped cut and core first one apple, then 50, then 100 for Dad to stew in a pot while Mom churned a wooden pestle round and round in a cone-shaped metal strainer. As her elbow cranked in a clockwise motion, thick cream the color of cherry blossoms would pour out from the holes: applesauce.
We were the only family in town who had pink applesauce. Mom left the skins on when she cooked the apples. She believed the skins were colorful because they were good for you.I used to cringe whenever someone served me a pale, snotty-colored heap of store brand sauce. It lacked the vigor and life of my parents’ joyful sauce.
I miss those giant jars of fresh sauce. I remember its warmth, and the steam of the canning process filling the kitchen on a crisp fall day. As I worked methodically with my parents, we shared a quiet contentment made possible by those glorious fruits from our very own trees.
When my husband and I were selecting fruit trees to plant in our new home here in Sacramento, California, an apple tree was at the top of my list. I didn’t choose a variety based on its hand-to-mouth flavor. I chose one for its baking qualities. I imagine my future Californian life filled with a steaming kitchen and beautiful batches of pale pink applesauce.
|Pineapple guavas: seasonal addition to applesauce
For now, my tree is too young to produce enough fruit for canning. I’ll have to wait a few years for that. But I do have a mature pineapple guava tree that’s dropping fruit by the bushels.
Pineapple guavas are a citrus fruit with an apple-like flavor and a creamy texture. Last year, not knowing what to do with so many of these, I made jam. My husband and I love jam, but don’t often find ourselves eating it. So my poor pineapple guava jam went unnoticed.
This year, as the air cooled with the crispness of fall, I yearned, as I do every Autumn, for applesauce. In a flash of creation, I pondered the notion of blending pineapple guavas with apples for a unique sauce. I used some green apples that a friend gave me, combined with cinnamon sticks and spices. And wouldn’t you know the combination worked! It’s a wonderfully bright sauce from the citrusy guavas, yet mellowed and soothing from the harvest spices and comforting apples.
Yet, my sauce doesn’t have that gorgeous crimson hue that Mom’s had. Next time I’ll have to buy red apples. But I did leave the skins on. You may wish to go the extra mile and peel your apples. I also don’t own a large strainer like Mom’s, so I left my sauce chunky.
Perhaps I have a new tradition for the California era of my life!
Pineapple Guava Applesauce Recipe
3 baking apples cut into chunks and cored
25 pineapple guavas cut in half and the fruit scooped out
½ cup organic cane sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
1 vanilla bean
4 whole cloves
2 cardamom pods
Farmers’ Market Ingredients: apples
Backyard Farm Ingredients: pineapple guavas
Supermarket Ingredients: sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, cloves, cardamom
|Pineapple Guava Applesauce Recipe
Combine all the ingredients in a 2 quart sauce pan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, and continue to boil for about 10-15 minutes until fruit becomes soft. Use a potato masher to smash the fruit into a thick pulp. Leave some chunks of fruit for a rich, rustic texture. Turn the heat down and allow to cool. Remove the spices before serving.
My husband and I enjoyed this creation over sweet potato French toast (another creation I’ll have to write about in the near future) with maple syrup and chopped walnuts for a complete fall harvest! Enjoy it with oatmeal or dive in spoon-first like I did as a little girl in my Mom’s kitchen.