This fall we bought a membership at a local orchard. At the time, I really contemplated it because typically apple picking was a one time event in the fall for us - would the membership really pay off?!? But, it came with a shiny red bucket for apple picking and I figured at the very least, a bucket is always a handy thing to have at home.
We ended up going to the orchard at least six times and every time we picked more apples than we needed. This resulted in many batches of apple sauce which might be the easiest and most satisfying dish to make. There really is no recipe, you can't mess it up and it makes your house smell like the most delicious version of fall.
Here is how you do it:
Chop up about 6 - 8 apples. Put them in a pot. (You read that right, don't take the skin off, don't get rid of the seeds or stems, throw it all in).
Add a little bit of water to the pot, maybe about 1/2 inch. Just enough so the apples don't stick.
Squeeze 1/2 a lemon into the pot, add a dash of salt and a cinnamon stick.
Bring the mixture up to a boil. In about 10 minutes check the water and if it is dry on the bottom, add a little more.
Cook until the apples get mushy. Anywhere from 40 - 60 minutes. You can't overcook - but if it gets too dry, it could stick.
Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Use a food mill or a mesh strainer and push the apples through so that the seeds, pits and skin stay in the strainer.
Bonus activity: This particular orchard has many different varieties, so each time we tried something different and decided on our favorites. At a recent teacher training that Renana and I did, we sampled thirteen different varieties of apples from the orchard and ranked them based on appearance, flavor and texture. There were a few surprises (starting with how many varieties there actually are) - some apples that people were sure were their favorites turned out to be lower ranked when tasted next to others. We had conversations about how the color impacts our expectations, about the shape and size and about the need for more diversity in our grocery stores.