Heirloom Apples

These uncommon heirloom apple varieties are rich with flavors that intrigue and delight.

By Deborah Madison

Photography by Christa Neu


very fast, very good applesauce recipeVery fast, very good applesauce
There's nothing easier than making applesauce with a pressure cooker and a food mill. Simply quarter the apples without bothering to peel them or remove the cores; then cook them on high pressure for 15 minutes. That's all it takes for the apples to soften. Then run everything through a food mill to separate the skins and seeds from the pulp. Add seasoning later, and sugar or honey if needed, but this will make a delicious basic sauce to freeze or can for the winter, or eat immediately. This is a great place to use a mixture of apples, odds and ends, and windfalls. But be sure to use some apples with deep red skins, such as 'Empire' and 'Arkansas Black', which will give the applesauce a rosy color, and if possible, include some that are on the tart side.

  • 3 pounds apples (see above)
  • 1⁄2 cup apple juice (optional)
  • Pinch of salt
  • Honey or sugar to taste, starting with a few tablespoons only
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • Pinch of ground clove (optional)
  • Fresh lemon juice, if needed

1. Rinse the apples and cut into quarters or big chunks, leaving skins and seeds intact. Put them in a pressure cooker and add the apple juice (1/2 cup water may be substituted). Lock the lid in place, bring the pressure to high, and then reduce the heat to maintain an even pressure for 15 minutes. Release the pressure or let it fall by itself.

2. Pass the apples through a food mill into a clean saucepan.* Be sure to scrape the bottom of the pressure cooker—the apples may have stuck and caramelized, which adds flavor.

3. Add the salt. Stir in the honey, sugar, or other sweetener (such as agave syrup) to taste as well as the cinnamon, cardamom, allspice, and clove. If the sauce is too thin, cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened. Taste again. If it seems a little too sweet and on the dull side, add a few drops of fresh lemon juice to sharpen the flavor.

Makes about 4 cups

*For a plain sauce that tastes just of apples, you can skip the final step and go straight to eating!