Nova Scotia has always been a major exporter of apples to the world. The Annapolis Valley has soft fertile red clays and a slightly warmer climate, with cool nights that fosters many orchards. While they all raise beautiful apples of many varieties from early juicy, sweet-sour, and snappy Gravensteins to later soft, pear-like and mild Delicious and Golden Delicious, not many have yet transitioned to spray-free or organic growing.
So it was with great excitement that I identified a U-Pick organic orchard within driving distance of here. I absolutely adore apples and ordinarily can just barely afford the organic ones, when I can get them. At the local markets they are always in short supply. This was the second year my family made the trip to Boates Orchard, near Kentville. This year it was only I and my daughter since we went on a weekday that she had off work and the others didn't. It was drizzly and cool and we both got wet feet, but the sunniness of the apples glowing with the promise of applesauce, pies, crisps and muffins was enough to keep me happy and warm. That, plus the chance to spend a little time with my lovely daughter -- chief driver, navigator and apple carrier extraordinaire, a treasure of a daughter, even above apples.
Notice it's a sunny day? The pictures are from last year's visit.
Old fashioned Apple Sauce (Cortland)
Apple sauce is often overlooked as a treat because it's so readily available pre-made in stores, but I promise this is not that. If you can get Cortland apples they make a lovely thick, mild apple sauce, just delectable. This is the classic recipe like my grandmother made it. Your house will light up with fragrance when you make this; it smells of childhood. It makes a gorgeous dessert on its own, topped with or mixed with a bit of cream or soymilk, and is just lovely on pancakes. I think I might even eat it as my grandmother did, spread on a bit of bread, thickly, instead of jam.
For just over a quart of apple sauce:
Peel and core and dice about 25, close to 10 lbs, of medium-sized Cortland apples. Put them into a large pot, like a soup pot, with a few cups of water. You will need to adjust the water so that there is enough to cook the apples and the sauce is not too thick or too thin. Cortlands tend to be a drier apple. Wait a few minutes to see how much juice the apples release, add more as needed and cook and stir occasionally with a wooden spoon until the sauce has broken down. I cover the sauce while it cooks.
At any point after the apples have started to release a bit of juice add about 2/3 cup of granulated sugar, a stick of cinnamon and a tsp of ground cinnamon, a half teaspoon of nutmeg, and a pinch or so of salt. (Add more sugar to taste; this quantity of sugar will give a not-sweet result.) There may still be a few lumps in the sauce but don't worry, this is desirable, as long as they are soft. Just stir it a bit more to aid in the process. Allow the sauce to cool, covered, and then put it into a glass mason jar and refrigerate, It should last about a week or so, but like ice cream, you just may find it has disappeared overnight.