Yay for Apple Season! You might know it as fall or autumn. Bring on the apples, pears, plums, pumpkins, winter squash, and root vegetables, and all the warm comforting dishes for cooler weather. As our locally available produce changes, so do our cooking methods and spices. Did you ever notice that we use more spices in fall? Spices like cinnamon with apples, ginger with pears, these along with cloves and nutmeg with pumpkin. I love all these comforting spices, especially in interesting combinations such as in chai.
Chai is an Indian tea brewed with milk and spices. It is delicious and fragrant, offering warmth from the hot tea but also from the spices, some of which have a little heat. The spice mix can vary by region but typically includes cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, and black pepper, and sometimes star anise, coriander, and cloves. It is cozy and comforting on a cool autumn day. Thinking about comforting things for fall, I could not help but think about all of these spices and how to use them with fresh local fruits and vegetables.
Fall. Warmth. Comfort. That is the first theme for a new collaboration of Canadian Food Bloggers (#CANRecipe) that I am proud to be part of. You can check out all the recipes for fall comfort at the bottom of this post. When I began to think about what is comforting for me, I thought spices, and apples and all the wonderful things we can do with apples. Adding a blend of chai spices makes the applesauce taste more complex and adds depth. It’s apple sauce for grown-ups.
I used Ginger Gold apples for this recipe. The complex flavour, sweet with a little hint of ginger, worked beautifully with the additional spice. However, any variety of apple would be fine.
I did not use any sugar in this recipe as the apples are quite sweet. Depending on what type of apple you use you may want to add some sweetener but I would suggest waiting until you have the sauce or butter made to taste it. As the apples cook down the sugar naturally becomes more concentrated and adding sugar may not be necessary.
Chai Applesauce, Apple Butter, and Apple Leather
5 lbs apples, washed, chopped and core removed
1 cup water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon fennel
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon black pepper (finely ground)
In a large saucepan (4 quart size) add apples, water, lemon juice and spices and heat on medium until apples begin to cook, then cover and turn down to low, stirring often and add a little more water if they begin to stick. The apples will release their juices and slowly lose their shape. If you want a chunky apple sauce simply mash them with a potato masher to break them up a little as they cook. If you want a smooth apple sauce, cook for about 45 minutes, turn off, cool and blend with an immersion blender. At this point you have already made the applesauce.
To make the apple leather, take out approx 2 cups of apple sauce and spread it on a parchment or silicone lined cookie sheet or pan. I spread it out with a spatula and then tilted and tapped the pan to make it even. This is important so it will dry evenly. Place in warm oven (140 degrees) for 6 hours or overnight to dry. Starting from a corner, loosen from the silicone sheet to roll up or simply roll up the parchment paper and cut into sushi style rolls. Store in an air tight container.
To make apple butter, simply continue to cook the apple sauce on low where it will continue to thicken and darken, stirring once in a while to prevent sticking. Stop cooking at desired thickness and spoon into jars.
The applesauce and apple butter freeze well.
This batch made 1 roll of apple leather, 1 300ml jar of apple butter, and 3 300ml jars of apple sauce.
I’m glad to say that starting this month I will be sharing recipe ideas from my Canadian blogging friends under the hashtag #CANRecipe. This month we are celebrating the change of season with fall comfort in the kitchen.
From the top left the dishes are:
Rustic Apple Tart @ Red Cottage Chronicles
Spicy Vegetarian Chilli @ Allergy Girl Eats
Indian-inspired Vegetable Pilaf Topped With Crispy Brussels Sprouts @ Maple and Marigold
Maple and Oatmeal Ale Pulled Chicken Sliders @ Mommydo
Mushroom Hand Pies @ Dish ‘n’ the Kitchen
Maple Bacon Mini-doughnuts @ Everyday Allergen-Free
Chai-Spiced Apple Sauce, Apple Butter and Apple Leather @ Making Healthy Choices
Spaghetti Squash Bake @ The Inspired Home
Crock Pot Chicken Pot Pie @ It’s Just My Life