Thanks to a recent trip to the North Carolina mountains, I have a bushel of apples in my garage. The United States government defines a bushel of apples as equal to 48 pounds. My husband, who was in charge of carrying the box of apples, thought it weighed 25 pounds. But that’s because he is in denial that he has a wife crazy enough to buy 48 pounds of apples for two people.
I don’t hold his disbelief against him. The average American eats 18.5 pounds of apples in a year according to this website on North Carolina apples. If we, as in just the two of us, manage to consume our bushel of apples, we will have smashed the American average in a matter of weeks and will be well on our way to competing with the Europeans who consume about 46 pounds of apples a year per person.
I have to admit, when I think about the box of apples in our garage I get a little intimidated. The good news is that apples tend to store well and last for a relatively long period of time. The bad news is that they keep well when stored at a temperature between 30 and 45 degrees. Obviously, I don’t have enough room in my refrigerator for 48 pounds of apples and while North Carolina got some cold weather over the weekend, without a doubt, it will warm up again.
This means I have to cook lots of things with apples in them and be creative enough that it doesn’t seem like all we are eating is apples. Towards that goal, last night we each ate a baked apple with butter, walnuts, raisins, and brown sugar. The apples were delicious, but I realized that baking two apples off at a time was a drop in the bucket. I needed to think big. Fortunately, a recipe for applesauce in Ina Garten’s The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook caught my eye. It called for 6 lbs of apples (or 1/8th of my bushel!) and made over 2 quarts of applesauce, which according to the recipe lasts for weeks.
I made a few, very small tweaks to the recipe and two hours later my house smelled of apples and cinnamon. And the best part? We only have 42 pounds of apples left to eat.
Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbookby Ina Garten
Not only is the aroma of this applesauce enticing, but the applesauce itself is delicious. I promise that you’ll never want to eat store-bought applesauce again. If you want your applesauce to have a pinkish hue, add the peels from at least two red apples to the pot before baking.
3 lbs Granny Smith Apples, peeled, cored, and quartered
3 lbs other Baking Apples (the more varieties the better), peeled, cored and quartered
zest and juice from 2 Navel oranges
zest and juice from 1 lemon
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 quarter-sized piece of candied ginger, finely chopped
1 stick of butter, cut into 4 pieces
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine apple quarters in a non-reactive Dutch oven. Pour the juice and zest from the lemon and oranges over the apples and toss to coat. Sprinkle apples with brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, candied ginger, and pieces of butter.
Cover the Dutch oven and place in oven on middle rack. Bake for 1 1/2 hours and stir the apples every 30 minutes. Once apples are very soft, remove from oven and stir mixture with a whisk. The mixture will break apart easily. Serve warm or refrigerate for later.