The core of living local
The big pot on my stove simmers away, filling the kitchen with the sweet smell of apple. October is picking time and not much is better than holding the ladder for my friend as she pulls down armfuls of unsprayed green apples that pelt me as they fall. In no time we each have a big bag to lug home. I carry my bounty into the house just as the sunset turns the sky crimson. This evening, living local makes perfect sense.
The apples won't win a beauty contest. They are distorted in shape and mottled with black spots, but peel that skin back and they are absolutely delicious in flavor and taste. The juicy meat holds all the drenching rains and sunny days of summer.
Applesauce is easy to make and it freezes really well. It's messy but worth it. On a late February morning when the light is thin and you feel you'll never be warm again, even the smell of this October applesauce defrosting will do you a world of good.
All it takes to make applesauce is a big pot, a food strainer and some time. Usually, I don't peel apples when I make sauce, but this batch is so homely I did. After peeling, I cut the apples into quarters and threw them into the pot, seeds and all.
When the pot was full I set it on the stove over a medium flame and added enough water to cover the bottom. After covering it loosely with a lid, I let it cook, stirring now and then to make sure the apples didn't stick to the bottom of the pot. Meanwhile, while they simmer, I make dinner and listen to music or the news.
When the apples have softened into a pulp, which takes about half an hour, they are done. I put them through a food strainer adding a little sugar a few tablespoons at a time for taste. The friend who takes me picking adds honey from her own bees and uses a Foley food mill.
It's remarkable how generous an apple tree can be. There are enough apples in my tote bag to refill my big pot several times, and numerous people have shared the bounty of this one tree. Good news. This means plenty of bowls of sweet eating for now and plenty of leftovers to squirrel away in the freezer for those dark winter weekends.
Laura Wainwright is a frequent contributor to The Martha's Vineyard Times.