Every so often, someone who knows how to cook eagerly informs me that I could easily make one of my favored store-bought treats myself. Usually I am not interested, because the whole point of liking the treat is that I like it as is, and not in some allegedly superior, more wholesome form. (See, for instance, the many internet recipes for DIY McDonald’s Shamrock Shakes. Are you kidding me?) I don’t like cooking very much, and I don’t like waiting at all, and usually I’d prefer to just buy the thing I know I like. I’ve had one exception for several years: granola, which is very easy to make and outlandishly expensive.
This weekend, I welcomed a second exception to the rule: apple sauce.
Applesauce is the kind of thing that never once occurred to me to make myself. It’s the kind of food item whose existence I long took for granted: it simply appears on the shelves. Obviously if you think about it for two seconds, that’s not true, and someone somewhere is smashing up apples into slurry you eat with a spoon. That someone could be you.
This weekend a friend in culinary school showed me how to “make” it, and I put “make” in quotes just to emphasize how ridiculously easy it was. First you peel five or six Honeycrisp apples — the best apple, I am legally required to say, as they come from Minnesota and so do I. You dice those up, and put them in a pot with a cup of water, a heaping half cup of sugar, a heaping teaspoon of cinnamon, and a pinch of salt. You simmer that for a while (like 30–35 minutes, depending how small you dice the apples). During this time you simply sit back and enjoy how incredible your apartment smells: like the fanciest and most expensive of Christmas candles.
When the apples are dark brown and kind of translucent, and soft (you can test with a fork), you remove the pot from the heat and then mash them up with one of those potato masher things, or a fork if you don’t have one. What you have now is homemade applesauce, which is better than store-bought because it’s sweeter, and not so mushy and watery (unless you want it to be). You could eat it by itself, or with ice cream. I have eaten it with yogurt and homemade granola every day this week and frankly I feel like a lifestyle blogger who lives on a solar-paneled hemp farm or something. “Homemade applesauce is also a nice and unexpected side to bring to your Friendsgiving!” I would write, but really, I do think it would be.