Northern Michigan applesauce lovers, it seems to me, fall into two camps. Fans of pale yellow and smooth on the one hand. Fans of chunky, dark with spices, bursting with texture and the taste of crisp fall days in a Northern clime on the other. Guess which camp I’m in?
I make my own applesauce, using only Northern Michigan-grown apples, because step one of this recipe is stopping at farm stands on a fall day when the Up North forests are colored in the same shades as the fruit I’m buying. Aromatherapy from the scent of the bubbling sauce is another reason to DIY. I make my applesauce in small batches and refrigerate what doesn’t get eaten immediately—I’d rather save the work of canning for fruits I can’t get fresh most of the year. The sauce is delicious with everything from roast pork to waffles and pancakes. Or try this for a sweet ’n’ easy windup to a fall brunch: Sprinkle a bowl of warm applesauce with granola and top it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. (Source it all locally using Redheads Homemade Granola and Moomers or Shetler Dairy ice cream, available at many Northern Michigan grocery stores). I tweak my applesauce each time I make it—but here’s the basic recipe:
7 or 8 Michigan grown apples (mix and match any varieties except ginger gold, honey crisp, red delicious and sweetango)
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/2 cup maple syrup
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup of chopped walnuts, optional
Place cored, peeled and chunked apples in a heavy pot and just cover with water. Add lemon zest and spices. Bring to a boil, then simmer uncovered until apples are very mushy—about an hour—stirring occasionally. Add more water if you need to. Turn off heat and break up chunks by stirring until the sauce is the consistency you desire.