Over Labor Day weekend, I had the distinct pleasure to revisit one of my favorite areas in Virginia. My friend’s family owns some property near the Blue Ridge Parkway and they have an apple tree that was planted by one of the great-grandfathers thriving in the front yard of their mountain cabin. Last August, I experienced the joy of harvesting apples for the first time, which included adventures in cooking and baking with apples.

This year, I had the delight to revisit the same apple tree for its annual offering of crisp, tart apples – that, in my opinion, are perfect for creating applesauce and apple pies. In addition, I had the opportunity to pick apples from two other areas in the same neighborhood. So I have 3 distinct apple types to adventure with this coming month – and I couldn’t be more excited!

My first day in the kitchen with this year’s harvest, I decided to pursue the tried-and-true option from the get-go. I have an antsy 7 year old encouraging me to make as many apple delicacies as quickly as possible – and I needed to placate him with an offering before I started exploring outright.

And so, I decided to focus on making applesauce with the apples I was already familiar with – fairly easy with predictable results.

The apples from my friend’s great-grandfather’s tree were separated from the rest. I peeled and chopped apples until I had about 10 cups of apple flesh. I added the apples, 2 cups of water and 1 cup of white sugar to a stock pot, covered it and let it cook down over medium heat.

I was aiming to get a thick sauce and succeeded – although, I would remind you that thick sauce can bubble and splatter before you even realize it. My admonishment comes with a sincere spirit as my right wrist showcases a new burn mark in the shape of plop-splattered applesauce. Be careful. There’s no rush to cook down the apples, so err on the side of caution and use a lower heat, if you’re concerned. Make sure to use the pot cover as a shield and stir the mixture well.

These particular apples* break down really well, so there’s little mashing required.
They produce a sauce that’s rich and flavorful – like a fine red wine.

Once the majority of the apples were mush, I turned off the heat and periodically stirred the sauce. After about an hour, I decided I couldn’t wait any longer for it to cool down. I ladled a generous portion into a bowl and added a handful of Blueberry Granola.

I declare Day 1 of 2012 Apple Adventures a complete success.

*Apple type is unknown. A sample has been sent to an Apple Expert for identification.