Friday, August 27, 2010


Last weekend, a paper shopping bag full of apples made its way into my kitchen. My daughter had been visiting friends who live on a farm, and their apple trees are bearing early and bountifully this year.

‘Wow!’ I thought, a little weak in the knees, ‘will ya' look at all those apples!’ The apples stared back at me.

“They’re not eating apples,” my daughter warned me. “They’re cooking apples.”

All those years before I retired, it was a whole lot easier to buy my apple products ready-made at the grocery store than go through all the work of processing them myself.

It wasn’t that I didn’t know how to deal with a huge bagful of apples. My childhood is filled with memories of apples—we had about a million apple trees in our back yard (or maybe four). Anyway, I can remember helping my mother peel, slice, mush, can, pickle, and freeze apples for weeks at the end of summer and into the fall. I can still peel an entire apple without breaking the peel (hold your applause).

I looked balefully at that bagful of apples for several days. Tom looked balefully at me looking balefully at those apples. I don’t even know what “balefully” means, but I know that looking baleful didn’t get the apples taken care of.

Finally, yesterday, I dug into the back of the cupboard and found what I was looking for: my mother’s old cone-shaped stand sieve with the wooden pestle. The applesauce machine. I didn’t even have to look up the recipe—apples, water, cinnamon, and a little sugar.

Applesauce. Any idiot could do it. It was like riding a bike; you never forget how. First I cored and quartered half of the apples. Do expect a blister on your knife finger; this is not labor for the faint-hearted. Then I put the quartered apples into my biggest kettle with about a half-cup water per eight apples.

Add sugar or Splenda (optional) and cinnamon (also optional) to taste. Cook until the apples get mushy, dump them into the conical sieve, grind away with the pestle, and presto change-o! Applesauce.
Then I repeated the whole process for the second half of the apples. If I’d had a bigger kettle, I would have done them all at once.

And do you know what? I had fun. It was relaxing doing one of those no-brain childhood chores with my mother’s old apple sieve and pestle. And the blister from coring all those apples didn’t even hurt. It was more like a Girl Scout badge of domestic achievement.


bd said...

Betty Crocker has a tear in her eye...

2to4aday said...

bd: Betty Crocker can cry all the salty tears she wants, but she'd better not drip them into my applesauce. I make the no-sodium variety!

Thanks for commenting . . . it sometimes gets lonely out here in Bloggerville!

bd said...

I'm sure Betty C was proud as punch:-) Mary Wolford got that award in high school: "Betty Crocker Homemaker of the Year"....wonder if she could do as well. Remember all that 4-H cooking-made 3-4 batches to get the few cookies that you could take to the fair. And you just whipped those apples into a masterpiece on a impressive. I know you have readers...they are just too chicken to write:(

Elaine said...

The applesauce looks yummy! And I have one of those machines myself.

Anonymous said...

It was 3 trees..1 eating,1 baking,1 crab (apple that is) I recall. I sliced a lot of those apples too. But I used a lawn mower!

Dana @ Bungalow'56 said...

The Agronomist's Ancestor's came in 1668 to Quebec city. I bet they knew each other. If you go to the Musee de l'Amerique Francaise you can type in your name and they tell you the name of the first of your family to have arrived.

2to4aday said...

Elaine: I'll bet our moms bought their applesauce squishing machines from the same door-to-door salesman!

Anonymous: It seemed like a lot more than three apple trees--but the person who mowed the lawn usually has the best memory of those sorts of things. I'll go along with three . . .

Dana: Thanks for the tip on the Musee de l'Amerique Francaise. We will be sure to do that when we go next fall. (I'll maybe have to take some French lessons before we leave!) And I'll bet you're right--the population of Quebec was small enough back in the 1660s that your ancestors and my husband's ancestors could have been acquaintances. Cool!!