The Apple Chronicles, Part 1: Applesauce

「しゃきっとみずみずしい果肉をしている」(shakitto mizumizushii kaniku wo shiteiru): to have a crispy and juicy flesh (of fruit)(alc.co.jp)

One of my favorite apples grown in Japan is the Jonagold. The flesh is crisp and sweet, and the skin is a gorgeous gradation of reds and yellows. This week, however, I have been pushed to the culinary limit by my love of a good deal.

Fruit in Japan is often expensive. I look for deals–6 apples for 500 yen is a good price, as apples in Hokuriku tend to run at 150-200 yen PER apple. Last weekend, I did my shopping at a large department-store grocery (Aeon) near a friend’s house, and I found the deal of a lifetime:

1 crate of apples for 980 yen.

That’s right, 20 beautiful grade-A Jonagolds from the apple country of Aomori for 980 yen. That’s 49 yen PER APPLE, and these are big apples at 270 grams each! My head nearly exploded from the glorious savings.

Now, if I had been thinking, I would have driven to my friend’s place and given her half of the apples, or, if the universe were on my side, we would have bought said apples together before the dinner party we threw the night before. I was not so lucky, and so I found myself presented with a challenge:

1 woman who lives alone + 1 tiny Japanese refrigerator/freezer VS. 5.4 kilos of apples.

If I were home in the States, I could have easily frozen most of these, but my freezer is perpetually full of extra food and hoarded rye bread, so I can only freeze a few due to space issues.  Add to this the fact that I am leaving on holiday for part of Golden Week, and the plot thickens.

Failure is not an option, my friends! Join me on my 20-Apples Challenge!


Recipe 1: Homemade Applesauce

The most obvious way to use up a lot of apples is to make applesauce, which I use for baking and just to eat. Since it freezes well and can be frozen flat in a freezer bag, it’s a practical choice for my ridiculously small freezer. The apples will give off their juices as the cook, so you don’t have to worry about burning them as they cook down.

If you like smooth applesauce, peel and dice the apple and consider using a blender afterward; if you prefer chunky applesauce, leave the peel on and/or cut the pieces a bit larger. This time, I peeled the apples but then cut up the peel itself and added it, too–the apples cooked much faster in general, and the applesauce has the consistency I prefer.


Serves 5-6; yields ~3 cups

Time: 30 minutes, plus cooling time

Ingredients
6 large Jonagold apples (Jonagold: jonagourudo, ジョナゴールド; apple: ringo, りんご)*
~60 mL water (or enough to cover the bottom of the pot)
Optional: 1 teaspoon cinnamon, or to taste (shinamon, シナモン); or other spices

Equipment
1 large pot with a lid
1 potato masher or a sturdy fork (poteto mashaa, ポテトマッシャー)
Colander (mizu kiri bouru, 水切りボール)
Optional: blender

Procedure
1. Pour enough water into a large pot so that the bottom is covered.

2. Optional: Peel the apples for a smoother consistency. (May add in the diced peel as well for an in-between consistency).

3. Dice the apples and place in the water.

3. Put the pot on the stove and cover with a lid. Cook over medium heat (boiling is fine) until the apples are very soft, about 20-30 minutes. Turn off heat.

4. Mash with a potato-masher or a fork until the applesauce reaches the desired consistency. For very smooth applesauce, run it through a blender in batches.

5. Add cinnamon (or any other spices) and stir well.

6. Let cool. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week. Applesauce can be frozen in a freezer bag or freezer-safe glass or plastic containers for up to a year. To thaw, just set in the refrigerator for a few days.

Notes
*These apples weigh 270 grams a piece. Jonathan apples (Koujoku, 紅玉 ), or Fuji (ふじ, 富士) are also good.

Challenge Thusfar

Applesauce: 6 apples

Spiced Apple Jam: 3 apples

Kabocha-Apple Whole-Wheat Turnovers: 1 apple

Lemon Apple Jam: 2 apples

Eaten straight: 4 apples

Apples remaining: 4

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