WHILE MAKING APPLESAUCE LAST NIGHT, I tried cooking the fruit in water infused with rose-geranium leaves. What emerged was something so fragrant and delicious that I will never make applesauce in the usual manner again. Here is the recipe for this perfectly-pink, sugar-free puree, which I wouldn’t hesitate serving to guests:
Of course to make this sauce, you will need a rose-scented geranium plant, and preferably Pelargonium ‘True Rose,’ above. This is a houseplant I can’t live without. It is easy to grow; it thrives in either full sun or bright light, and it propagates practically overnight from stem cuttings. If you don’t already have this botanical wonder, by all means buy one. I know that Logees.com carries it.
15 fresh, whole, rose-scented geranium leaves
Apples – preferably Cortlands, but any sweet variety, including McIntosh, will do
Powdered ascorbic acid (sold as “Fruit Fresh”) – optional
Special Equipment – an apple corer; a large, heavy-bottomed stainless or enameled pot with a lid; a wooden spoon; a food mill for pureeing the cooked apples and removing their skins
The Rose-Geranium infusion – Pour one inch of water into the pot, add the geranium leaves, and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover, and let the leaves steep for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the apples.
The apples – Wash, core, and quarter the apples. Later, the food mill will peel them for you.
Cooking – Remove the scented leaves from the pot, toss in the apple pieces, and set the pot over high heat. The moment a boil is achieved, reduce heat, cover the pot, and let the apples simmer gently.
Stir the apples every 10 minutes or so to avoid burning. After 20 minutes have passed, start checking the apples for doneness; if they can be easily smashed with the back of a wooden spoon, they are ready for processing in a food mill.
Processing – Set your food mill over a bowl. Working in one-quart batches, ladle apples into the mill and turn its crank clockwise. For every ten clockwise turns, reverse the motion for 5 turns. This will help loosen skins. After the mill has eked out all the sauce it can, scrape out residual skins before processing your next batch.
Adding “Fruit Fresh” – I like to stir into each quart each quart of finished sauce a little (1/4 tsp) Fruit Fresh. This powdered ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) product mitigates the browning that would otherwise mar the perfectly pink puree.
Serving – Serve warm or cold, and, if you wish, with a tiny sprig from your rose geranium as garnish. I wouldn’t dream of adding any other flavoring, such as lemon (or cinnamon, sugar, nutmeg), to the sauce. It doesn’t need such enhancement.
Freezing – cover your bowl (or bowls) of sauce with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight. Then transfer to rigid freezer containers. The sauce will keep for about one year.
Don’t miss anything at A Garden for the House…sign up for Kevin’s weekly newsletter.