This is a pretty simple recipe--it's for applesauce, after all. However, it's an excuse to go to your favorite farmers market and stock up on autumn's favored fruit.
On the way to Fort Bragg from the Bay Area, there's a great fruit stand, Gowans, that is our apple supplier. Just to the side of highway 128, the apple trees are laden with fruit and the fruit stand overflows with Jonagolds, Sierra Beauties, McIntoshes, Granny Smiths and more. In the summer, they stock the stand with basket upon basket of tomatoes and a whole counter of green beans, zucchinis, and corn. But autumn is my favorite time. From the truck bed of pumpkins to the freshly pressed apple cider, it's a fallophile's paradise.
This year, we stopped for a bag of Sierra Beauties for this applesauce, and we picked up a pretty little pumpkin as well. As usual, I put it on our front porch so I could monitor the squirrel activity (usually a few come by every night to have a chomp on the sides of the pumpkin). For some reason, this amuses me, and I like to see just how much has been eaten from day to day.
This year, I got to see one night's worth of eating.
And then someone stole our pumpkin.
I mean, really?
But a stolen pumpkin cannot detract from a batch of sweet and maple-y applesauce. It's doubly, almost triply autumnal given the addition of cinnamon and maple syrup. I have been spooning heaps of this into my mouth when I open the fridge all week, and I stirred some into my oatmeal for breakfast. I have plans for a swirl to go in my yogurt later this week. And if I can keep enough of it around for others to enjoy, we might even just serve some of this alongside pork tenderloin.
But if I run out, it just gives me another excuse to pop by Gowans again.
Like I need an excuse.
Chunky Maple Applesauce
Adapted from Almost Vegetarian
about 4 cups
4 apples* (see note below), cored, peeled, and chopped
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 Tbsp pure maple syrup
Pinch ground allspice
Pinch ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp apple juice
1/4 cup raisins (optional)
1. In a heavy nonreactive saucepan, toss the chopped apples with the lemon juice. Add the maple syrup, allspice, cinnamon, vanilla, and apple juice and stir. Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer over medium-low heat. Cover and cook, stirring often, until the apples soften and break down and into a chunky sauce, about 30 minutes.
2. Remove from the heat and stir in the raisins, if using.