Last year we got yellow delicious apples and made our apple sauce from just that varietal. Once we finished all our apple sauce last year, I met a gentleman at Findlay Market who started grafting apples as a hobby. He had about eight varieties of apples, and after some discussion with him, I thought our apple sauce could have a little more depth if we used several different types of apples.
I found this gentleman at Findlay this year, and arranged to get a mixed bushel of apples from him. I should have written down all the varietals that we had in that bushel, but I failed. I know yellow delicious was one of the varietals we had. I hadn’t heard of most of the others. I think cort and mollies were a couple of the others.
I do know that when we tasted the apples, I was shocked by how different they were. They varied from texture to flavor. Some were tart. Some were crisp. Some were sweet.
Making the sauce didn’t bring many surprises. We did learn the hard way that packing the pot too full resulted in burning some of the apples at the bottom of the pot. The smoky flavor that this imparted to the sauce was too intense to salvage as a sweet apple sauce. We canned the unsweeted smoky apple sauce, thinking that this would be delicious in savory dishes. I should think that sauce would make a terrific garnish for seared pork chops or roasted pork loin. It would also work in a savory crepe with a robust cheese like gorgonzola.
We didn’t make the same mistake with the remaining batches. I have noticed that when we can with vanilla, the flavor really deeps with age. So when we compared the new sauce to the batch that we canned last year, the vanilla flavor wasn’t as prominent. I expect that this will change as the sauce ages in the jars. The sauce tastes great as it is, but I would like to revisit the results in a few months when the vanilla matures.
We also snagged a half bushel of tomatoes and made tomato paste. I don’t know what I was expecting. The tomatoes cooked down into 8 little jam jars; I think those jars only hold about a half a cup. Words won’t do justice to how flavor-packed this homemade paste was. We only seasoned the paste with salt and bay leaves. The resulting paste was rich and velvety. It captured all the bright acidity of the tomatoes along with the caramelized sweetness that all that cooking and evaporation causes.
I haven’t used the paste in cooking yet, but it tastes too good to dilute in a marinara sauce. I haven’t decided what I will do with these little jars of gold. I’m sure I will blog about whatever I end up doing with them.
If you are considering trying this at home, be prepared for it to take all day. Between the stovetop cooking, the oven roasting, and the canning, this was a very time-consuming project. but now that I understand how much better this homemade paste is to commercially canned paste, I will be happy to devote the time required. It’s shocking how rich that paste is. Those little jars were well worth the hours and hours of effort.