It’s a dull dreary day today, drizzling rain. A few of my son’s friends came over and I told them I’d make them “brunch.” I had apples from last week, but yesterday I bought more at 89 cents a pound, so I knew I wanted to use the old ones. I was also inspired by Kristina at My Baker’s Dozen when I saw her recipe for Apple Cider Muffin Tops! Oooh, if I only had applesauce! I could serve it over a Dutch Oven Pancake AND make the Muffin Tops later!
I don’t even bother with the jarred variety any longer; we had it so often when the kids were small, I just lost respect for it, I guess. We tried counseling – he refused to talk and it became obvious he thought he was perfect just as he was: Shiny and appealing on the outside, but bland, bland, bland.
He was so good with the kids, too at first – then I noticed he just stopped engaging them. I tried to make it work – encouraged the kids as much as I could, but in the end, it was no good. Last minute, he did try pulling out a few new flavors, some fancy new packaging, but in the end, it was still the same, boring old applesauce. We never really had closure; he just faded away…
Not so with this simple home-made version! A little tart, very tasty, and dare I say it? Just a bit “saucy!” Sorry, couldn’t help myself! The butter is completely optional and non-traditional, but adds a bit of richness. And the pepper? Trust me!
So as the applesauce was ready and the Dutch Oven Pancake coming out, I looked around and no kids! But a Dutch Oven Pancake waits for no man, no woman and no child…and it was delicious!
A quick note: Because mass produced apple sauce is so inexpensive, especially with sales and coupons, it would be really hard to make an applesauce that can come close to the price of jarred – especially the big jars of sales priced applesauce. The small, individual packages are always much more expensive. But homemade is so much better, denser and fresher there really is no comparison in quality. The cost was about $2.88.
Homemade Applesauce, about 3 cups.
- 7 – 9 apples, tart varieties, about 7 or so ounces each, about 3 pounds.
- 2 tablespoons butter, optional
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon, apple pie spice or pumpkin spice – what ever you like, optional
- Squirt of lemon juice
- About 20 grindings of pepper – I know, but it does something amazing to the flavor, optional
Peel and slice apples. Melt butter in saucepan, add apples, spices, lemon and pepper. Stir occasionally over medium low heat until apples soften. Mash with a potato masher to smooth out the larger chunks. Time, about 20 minutes.
Note: A heavy pan helps and if the apples seem too dry and in danger of scorching before they are softened, add in just a bit of water.
Let’s talk about how to save money/time on this recipe:
- Use a coupon matching site! One of my favorites in my area is Pocket Your Dollars, but every store has a group of enthusiastic Coupon Matchers. Do not discount the savings! I check their site every week, even if I don’t “need” to go to the store and often find bargains I can’t pass up.
- Follow my Strategies – You’ll see them all explained on the upper left tab of every page and how I apply them, below.
- Don’t get discouraged if your prices don’t match mine! Keep shopping at the best prices and your fridge/freezer and pantry will be stocked with sales priced ingredients.
- Read below for additional tips as well as throughout the recipe, for saving time and managing food.
- Apples: Look for apples in the fall at the best price, and watch for them in January and February at a lower cost. In January, the apples in the cold storage need to be sold off quickly, and there is a glut of apples coming out of gassed storage. Bought at 80 cents a pound, an apple is about 5 1/2 ounces, or 30 cents. Total $2.10 to $2.67.
- Lemon: In season in the winter months here – lemons are often on sale through out the year 3 to 4 to a dollar. The rind holds as much or more flavor than the juice, so I often grate it off before using and store in a Ziploc in my freezer – the little bit dries up but still holds more flavor than the store bought. If I’m in a pinch and don’t have lemon, I’ll use it instead. Microwave your lemon for a bit if it’s hard and/or roll it on the counter before you juice it and it will break down easier. If you just need a small amount, pierce your lemon with a fork and squeeze out, then remember to use it – later. I bag it and put it in the door of the fridge. Cost 5 cents?
- Butter: A bit of a splurge, cost and calorie wise – but for taste and health, I’d rather use real butter than trans fat laden margarine or oils. Yes – they do have trans fat, even if the label says they don’t. Harvard, for instance, says unequivocally: “The key to a healthy diet is to substitute good fats for bad fats and to avoid trans fat.” While butter isn’t a healthy fat, many feel that trans fat is worse than saturated. 16 cents
- Apple Corer: I’m not huge on specialized equipment in the kitchen, but I love my apple corer slicer. There are recipes I probably would not make if I didn’t have it. Mine’s a Pampered Chef, but there are many on the market, and they all seem to have pretty much the same features. I also use it for other fruits and even potatoes. It does look a bit like an instrument of torture!
(Don’t forget your furred and feathered friends – sprinkle the apple cores outside for a tasty treat. Well away from your house so you don’t encourage them to come too close.)
Priced July 2014 at $2.88
- Apple Cider Muffin Tops (mybakersdozen.wordpress.com)