Friday, May 3, 2013

Hearth Cooked Applesauce

I am an incredibly fortunate person - I get to go to a job I love, work with wonderful people and interact with students and parents about really cool things, based on history.  My "other job" for the past 10 years is that of the Education Coordinator for the Monadnock Center for History and Culture, known by most as the Peterborough Historical Society until recently.

In that role, I have the opportunity to cook over an open hearth during the year.   I keep it pretty basic (others here make some amazing things - much more complicated than this, WAY TO GO, Michelle & Lorraine!) when I am working with school children.  My greatest fear (after the concern I will have trouble getting the fire going the way I need it to...) is that I will get chatting and burn whatever I've got going!  I usually enlist the aid of the students to remind me to stir and flip!

Just the other day I made applesauce with a group.  It's really supper simple, smells great when it's cooking and is even EASIER at home!

Here's my fire about 20 minutes into starting it - once it's down a bit, I'll be able to start cooking the applesauce.

All you need are apples, cinnamon and water - sugar/sweetener is optional.  Let's get started!

This is about 2/3 of a bag of Macintosh apples - living here in New Hampshire there are plenty of these available.  You need to cut, peel and chop the apples.

Next, add cinnamon to the apples and water to your pot.  I have just enough to cover the apples.  You can see that in the image below.

It is important to keep stirring the mixture while it cooks, so that you can be sure it doesn't burn on and that the apples and cinnamon mix well.  As you stir it you can be "mushing" the apples so that as they cook and soften you get the texture you are looking for.

The last time I did this, we didn't need any additional sweetener.  I used freshly picked apples (it was back in the fall).  This time, we needed a bit of sweetness - I used maple syrup for both authenticity with the group and the fact I have it readily at hand, thanks to Dodge Hill Family Farm!  :o)

If you've never made your own applesauce, you can do the exact same thing on the stove.  It smells amazing when it's cooking and once you've tried it, the pureed stuff from the jar is just that, pureed stuff!  The texture is a bit lumpier (unless you use an emulsion blender on it), but you get burst of apple flavor from the chunks - very tasty!

Do you have a special recipe for applesauce or a secret ingredient you add?  I know that if you tell us, it isn't a secret, but we'd love to hear!

Give it a try!
Enjoy your day,


  1. We love homemade applesauce and use the method that Jonas' mother used:
    Cut Cortland apples into 6 or so pieces after washing. Put into large saucepan with lid and turn on a low heat. Stir every 5 minutes or so to keep it from sticking, but it WILL cook down to bubbling goodness. Put through a Foley Mill and watch as the seeds and skin get separated from the 'manna', leaving a rosy, pink color in the applesauce. We sometimes add cinnamon, but not always. SO GOOD either way!

  2. We've tried that (actually, Bri did!) and I love the color it makes. Kind of nice to not have to peel, too. I've always added some amount of cinnamon, I'll have to try without OR maybe with maple syrup?
    Thanks for the idea!

  3. Oh that's just brilliant, I am so trying that in our hearth.... brilliant !!!

  4. Anita-Clare, I am THRILLED you want to try it! I get so many great ideas from you!! Let me know how it tastes! :)

  5. ah ha~ found the applesauce~ its so easy to make! I don't have a hearth so I'll just do it over the stove fire. Thanks for sharing!

  6. That's really the easiest way - let me know how it comes out!