When Life Gives You Heirloom Apples, Make Heirloom Applesauce

by in In Season, November 14th, 2008

Our main produce vendor offered to send over some samples of heirloom apples. I’ve always loved apples, and I’ve been getting more and more excited about the growing variety of apples out there, as there really is such a huge difference in taste and texture.

The good news is that our sales rep brought 3 varieties: Black Oxford, Roxbury Russet, and Blue Pearmain.

The bad news is that there were only 4 of each variety.

I immediately ran to look online to see what info I could find on each apple. As it turns out, Blue Pearmain are excellent for baking, Roxbury Russets are old cider apples that are also good eaten as-is, and Black Oxfords are supposed to be good just eaten out of hand.

Well, it was exciting to try these centuries-old varieties that almost went extinct, but nothing jumped out at me and screamed “let’s buy more now!”

I turned away mildly disappointed and looked at what remained. Since it was mid-afternoon with the weekend fast approaching and 1 or 2 of each variety now gone to tasting, there was only one thing left for any chef to do: make applesauce!

I wanted to let the unique flavors of each apple shine through, so I added just a pinch of cinnamon and a few tablespoons of sugar, cooked them slowly for 30 minutes, passed them through a food mill, and wow, some of the best applesauce I’ve had in years!

I can’t wait to try more varieties!

Rob Bleifer, Executive Chef

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Comments (1)

  1. Barb says:

    Rob –

    Hope you saved the seeds out of the apples which you purchased so that someone could plant them. That's part of buying heirlooms, you know.

    The only thing in apples that has truly excited me in my entire life is the new Honey Crisp that was recently developed by Northern Illinois University. It has become the most popular in Illinois, at least, and we all think it is destined to be the most favorite apple that has ever been grown. A friend of mine purchased two extra bushels this year just to refrigerate and eat throughout the winter. Do try them.

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