Autumn = Apple season!
I realised yesterday that I was not going to finish eating the apples that I bought a few days ago before they start getting old and become like this:
Alright, I exaggerate. I did, however, pick these out for the compost pile while going through the bucket of apples that we gathered one morning at a farm in Bretagne where my sister and I were helping out last summer.
Anyway, back to the regular apples that were sitting on my countertop yesterday…
After a quick look online, I decided that the best thing to do with them was to make some applesauce. Knowing from my limited experience – we made lots of compote at the farm in Bretagne – I knew that this would be really easy (and healthy, since I could decide to add however much, or no, sugar to it). So I did.
Applesauce: Roughly cut up 3 medium Gala apples – I left them unpeeled as I like apple skin and it’d be a waste to throw it away just to obtain a smoother applesauce. This amounts to around 4 cups of chopped apples. Drop them in a pot, add 1 cup of water, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, a strip of lemon peel and a squeeze of lemon juice and bring to boil. You can leave out the water if you prefer the applesauce to be more concentrated. Once the mixture is boiling, lower the heat and let simmer for around 20 minutes until the apples turn soft. Remove the lemon peel. Mash the cooked apples with a fork or a potato masher to whichever chunkiness you prefer. For taste: Add a tablespoon of honey or brown sugar for taste while simmering. I prefer to keep it unsweetened as Gala apples are already quite sweet on their own. This produced around 2 cups of applesauce, which suits me just fine as there is no freezer at home nor do I want to do any canning, and I can easily finish this up in a week’s time, which is about the amount of time that it will keep refrigerated.
Applesauce is a good substitute for banana puree – which I absolutely adore now that I’ve discovered the wonders of those spotty bananas that fruit flies love so much; I’m guilty of buying bananas, not eating them and instead leaving them to die so that I can sacrifice their sweet bodies to making delicious granola or banana bread!
Usually I’d mash a banana or two to use as a binder in my DIY granola. Yesterday, I used applesauce instead.
Applesauce Granola: Combine 2.5 cups mixed oats + 1 cup nuts (pecans, almonds, brazil nuts, roughly chopped) + 1/8 cup brown sugar + 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon + 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg + 1/2 teaspoon salt in a bowl. Melt 1-2 tablespoons honey into 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce and 1 tablespoon vegetable oil over low heat, and add to the bowl, stir and mix well. Spread the mix onto a lightly greased baking pan and put into the over at 150 degrees Celsius (it’s not necessary to pre-heat the oven). Stir the mixture every 15 minutes. Cook for around 45 – 60 minutes until the granola turns golden brown. Add raisins to the granola when it is left to cool. Store in an airtight jar once cool. Keeps for around a week.
My first batch of applesauce granola reminds me of unsweetened popcorn, with a tinge of lingering sweetness, and I like that there are bits of dried apple skin. This is a rather ‘light’ granola and you can add brown sugar (+1/8 cup) or honey (+2 tablespoons) to make it sweeter. For me, the jumbo raisins that I bought from my favourite bio store in Brussels add enough sweetness to the granola.
I could easily buy applesauce and some delicious granola – I especially like Dorset Cereals’ Honey Granola – at the grocer’s instead of spending the time and effort to make my own. But after having made my own granola, I rather spend the time and create something that is tasty, healthy and tailored to my personal tastes (lots of nuts, jumbo raisins, a hint of banana / apple / carrot-coconut, etc.) It’s just much more satisfying 🙂