love-apple sauce, and real applesauce

frozen-sauceYOU SAY APPLE, AND I SAY TOMATO. Welcome to Food Fest Week 9, where the subject is apples…real ones over at the Dinner Tonight blog, or in my case Love Apples, which is what tomatoes were still called in Victorian times. Though actual apples were scheduled as this week’s topic, I’ve still got the last batches of red sauce to finish before I get to the even-sweeter pink stuff. But come to think of it, both tomato sauce and applesauce are made by the same basic method in my kitchen: skins on. So let’s make some sauce, shall we? No peeling required.

Love Apple Sauce (Lazy Woman’s Tomato Sauce)

I make about eight batches of red sauce late summer until frost, stashing it in the freezer for a year of enjoyment.  It isn’t much prep work, at least not the way I cook. Each “batch” constitutes a spaghetti potful of fresh, raw ingredients before it cooks down to less than half that, enough for 5 or 6 freezer containers of 12-16 ounces each. If you’ve got that last glut of tomatoes in need of processing, or see a bargain bushel of seconds at the farmstand, this lazy-person’s recipe for red sauce might be just the thing.

Again, I don’t take the time to peel or seed the tomatoes (to you purists, mea culpa; I’m a whole-food type…and also a bit manic when I cook). The sauce is the tiniest bit more bitter, perhaps, but think of all that fiber (and time saved).

Lazy Woman’s Tomato Sauce

Enough paste-type or other tomatoes to fill a spaghetti pot
1 head garlic
Extra virgin olive oil
Fresh basil
Fresh parsley, preferably Italian flat-leaf
Salt and pepper to taste; small amount of sugar optional

Wash tomatoes and cut off stem ends and any blemishes. Cut them up roughly into large chunks or wedges equal to approximately half a standard plum tomato size, smaller if you have then energy, but my theory: why bother?

Peel as many cloves of garlic as you wish to use (I use a whole head of 8-10ish).

Cover the bottom of the pot with olive oil, set on low heat, and put whole cloves into oil and sautee slowly, with the lid on, so they get soft and sweet, not smoking hot and crispy. Check and stir regularly.

When the garlic is soft, dump the cut tomatoes on top of it, filling the pot.

When the tomatoes start to simmer, roughly chop basil and toss it in, covering pot again.  I probably use 1/4 cup chopped, but more or less is up to you. Set the timer to uncover and stir every half hour for perhaps two hours, until the tomatoes are very soft.  Then use a hand potato masher to squash the tomatoes right in the pot.

Leave uncovered and let simmer, stirring more often, until desired thickness is reached, perhaps another hour and a half. Cooking times vary widely depending on how wet or dry the tomatoes were.

Chop parsley (again to taste) and incorporate just as you turn off the heat, so it wilts.

Ladle cooled sauce into containers and freeze them as is. If you prefer a smooth sauce, you can blend now, or when using.

Picking, and Cooking, Perfect Apples Up My Way

If you don’t grow your own apples, a nearby orchard’s next-best.  For those of you in this region, or planning a trip up to the Hudson Valley/Berkshires this fall-foliage season, a possibility: My friends at the Rural Intelligence blog recently showcased the 300-year-old family farm called Philip Orchards, where fruit is grown the gentlest way possible, following Integrated Pest Management procedures.  Read their Philip Orchards story. Another neighbor, Paige, promises some recipes this week using fresh-picked local apples (wherever local is to you). You can find them on her homepage later, along with her Lazy Girl’s Tomato Sauce (sound familiar?), which has been posted there all week. Guess we’re all in hurry-up mode as the harvest dwindles, though the ingredients we toss into the pot seem to vary by cook.

Pretty in Pink Applesauce

I freeze at least as much applesauce as red sauce each year, using the mix of red and green apples from the old trees in my yard (the former, unpeeled, give the sauce its beautiful pink color). Because I don’t spray my trees, the apples take a little more prep work to remove various blemishes, but I don’t have to worry about leaving all the good-for-you skins on. That’s one of my beloved old trees at the bottom of the page.

The process is the same as for saucing the tomatoes, minus the extra ingredients. All I put in the pot are quartered apples with their cores, seeds and stems removed, and a very small amount of water on the bottom. When they cook to a thorough softness, I let the mush cool and mash or blend half of each batch, leaving some skins intact and unblended, then freeze.  If you prefer a smooth sauce, blend it all.

With some of my apples and the tomatoes that don’t color up by frost, I make vegetarian mincemeat (formally named chutney in the recipe I use, but I promise it’s sweet). Or you can make the one that commenter Pam offered last week, which sounds delicious, too. Both are meant for hot-pack canning jars with vacuum seals…which reminds me, I’d better harvest the elderberries in a hurry and make the year’s jam.



Now it’s your turn: Have a recipe or tip for sauce (apple or tomato), or an apple treat of another kind? Leave it in the comments below. Then be sure to go visit my friend Deb at Dinner Tonight and do the same. The cross-blog event idea works best when you leave your idea and favorite links (whether to your own blog or another’s) at both host blogs.

Thanks for attending our ninth weekly Food Fest. Deb swears there’s one more week which she’s named “Final Call,” so see you Thursday for Food Fest 10. And in case I forget, won’t somebody remind me on Twitter? Thanks.


  1. margaret says:

    @Content: You make me realize that I should have posted a picture of my big old trees for those who didn’t see them in the springtime here…so I am going to add one now. The miracles of self-publishing on the internet, huh? Thanks for the inspiration. Photo to come momentarily…

  2. Paige says:

    So funny! I posted my tomato sauce version last week, and called it Lazy Girl Tomato Sauce. Great minds, etc. The link is here, and my favorite apple dessert, courtesy of the brilliant Patricia Wells, is here

    Bon appetit!

  3. Margaret…You are so lucky to have old apple trees on your property. I am especially fond of the “rusty” ones. I’ll trade beauty for taste any day!

    This seems to be an off year on private orchards in New Jersey. I usually pick at a friend’s house…but her apples are pathetic and not worth the trouble. I am blaming it on the lack of bees.

  4. Paula says:

    I enjoyed reading this, thinking of cutting all the spots and bruises off our apples from old trees. I also get to feed windfalls to the horses, who are demanding. Our apple and pear trees are loaded this year. I cook apples in the slow cooker.

  5. laura says:

    Yay for unsprayed apples. As a kid, I probably turned my nose up at a lot of foods, but I never knew anything other than blemished apples and have fond memories of cutting the “bad spots” out while my Mom peeled and cored next to me.

    My favorite you-pick orchard presses cider on weekends. Their entire harvest was derailed by a freeze this year, boohoo. But I’m not willing to go apple-less, so I have boiled cider, which could go sweet or savory: http://www.eatingwellanywhere.com/?p=161

  6. Tina Taber says:

    That tree is majestic.

    My last post was about heirloom tomatoes and my squeezo strainer that I use for removing skins and seeds from tomatoes as well as apples. http://www.belleadorn.com I’m not so opposed to skins but the seeds I don’t like.

    For me it’s easy with the squeezo machine. Peeling hot tomatoes and squeezing out seeds with my hands burns me, literally. Trying to do the whole process quickly as possible doesn’t leave a lot of time for cooling. But the squeezo machine can handle it boiling hot.

    My sauce is even lazier than yours! I pack my jars of plain cooked down tomato sauce with some salt and lemon juice & save the flavoring up for later when I cook with it.

    I will try my apples next time though like you do yours, only cutting out the core and leaving the skins. The color the apple skin gives the applesauce is so pretty.

  7. Brian G. says:

    Margaret, if you are a wee bit less “lazy” and and throw into your sauce some red pepper flakes to taste, a couple of bay leaves and substitute your favorite honey for the sugar you won’t be sorry. The honey gives it a more mellow sweetness but doesn’t register as honey.

  8. Kitt says:

    My sauce isn’t entirely lazy, since I do prefer to seed and peel my tomatoes, but it is quite yummy, with half the tomatoes slow-roasted for a richer base. For aromatics, I throw a bunch of onions, carrots, celery and garlic in the food processor and puree them, then cook the puree before adding the tomatoes and vegetable broth. Fresh herbs (and meat if desired) go in shortly before it’s done cooking.

    Here’s the recipe of sorts. I say “of sorts” because the proportions aren’t very strict. The longer you cook this, the better it gets.

  9. Charlotte says:

    This isn’t about tomatos or apples. Sorry. It’s about flowering crab apple trees. My husband and I got quit a nice supprise yesterday when we went out to sit on our patio. You see we live in Florida, and our Japenese Magnolia only blooms once a year, or so it has in the past. Well this year we are about to get another “crop” of beautiful blooms. I called a local nursery, and they said that it is rare, but does happen. We are just going to sit back and enjoy them, before we get a lovely frost.
    I love fall & winter.
    Tell the lovely “spokes folks” Hi !

  10. JeanAnnVK says:

    Hi Margaret…met Amy Goldman at the Garden Writers Assn Symposium last weekend. She spoke very highly of you! Everyone should see her wonderful new book on heirloom tomatoes…unbelievably beautiful! (www.rareforms.com)She even signed a copy for me…

    I have a pic of one of my apple trees in full bloom. Now, it is in full fruit…and so are all of my other fall fruits. I don’t have time during fall harvest to make a full apple pie, so I developed a lazy version called “crustless apple pie”…recipe link below…

    Will miss these weekly check ins when we stop for the season…

  11. David Brogren says:

    well we do roma tomatoes in general. My wife can take that heat when you skin em pretty well. I think that is the nice thing about the roma shape, they squirt right out of their skin. We too are looking for the deals on late tomatoes and plan to do a couple more half bushels into sauce. I am inclined to load up on garlic and herbs to give it the ready made Italian sauce, but my wife has convinced me to just do pure tomatoes into sauce, because she feels the garlic etal gets too strong over time in said sauce, and also she prefers to season her sauces (and I am inclined also) with whatever is around the pantry, or fresh in the garden.

    This theory stems from a wonderful class we took from an old Italian family on how to make proscuitto…. they also serve dinner at the class, and we asked if they had a special recipe for their killer sauce (which they called gravy). The whole clan roared with laughter and said “well mom puts in whatever is around when she makes gravy”….

    So that is good enough for me.

    But what do ya’ll think about the addin’s to tomato sauce coloring the taste away from whatcha want?

    Well gotta go, bread is ready to come out….

  12. Willi says:

    Earlier this summer my neighbor across the street hosted a neighborhood applesauce making party. We sat together and cut up the apples, removing blemishes (and a few worms), cooked them up on the stove, and then cranked them through a Squeezo that was clamped to an old butcher block in the backyard!

    We had lots of laughs and all went home with lots of sauce!

  13. margaret says:

    Welcome, JeanAnnVK. Yes, Amy is wonderful, and I have really enjoyed her heirloom tomato book, too. Thanks to you for joining in. We’ll see what events we can conjure here to keep everyone in touch come winter, hmmm…

    I love all your sauce suggestions, lazy and otherwise, and the knowledge that we are all stirring the pot together (well, except Charlotte, who is reveling in her second-show magnolia). :)

  14. Leslie Shields says:

    Hi, not about tomatoes or apples either but Magnolias. The Little Girl series of magnolias will bloom a second time (now) in our zone 5/6 gardens. It is a nice treat.

  15. margaret says:

    Welcome, Leslie, and thanks for the tip. Apparently you and Charlotte are enjoying magnolia season together, if a bit geographically apart!

  16. Brenda says:

    That is my kind of tomato sauce! I love this recipe. I’ve done something a little like this but roasted everything instead of cooking on the stove. That worked nicely too.

  17. Suzanne says:

    For the past 15 or so years, I have made tomato sauce the same way, but was always embarassed to tell people that I left the skins and seeds in the sauce. I figured my kids and husband never complained, and I figured it was good for them. It’s nice to read that other people do the same thing and I don’t need to be embarrassed anymore. I also can my sauce instead of freezing it. Freezing takes up too much room, and canning is so simple. Put the sauce in canning jars, put the filled canning jars in a pot covered with water, and boil for 45 minutes. Then the jars can go on a pantry shelf for a year and not take up valuable freezer space.

  18. Nina says:

    “pomme amore” is the sensual flavor of the tomato. I have harvested thousands here at the farm and freeze them for customers that do not have time to put up their own. Blanching, pureeing, and freezing preserves nutrients. I agree with Dave on seasoning at time of use and this also allows for cooking in many more culinary traditions (too many to list)!

    Like Margaret, once the heirloom tomatoes are complete (one more week), it’s onto antique apples which have been preserved here for wildlife and human consumption!


  19. margaret says:

    Welcome, Nina. Yes, we are in the last stages of Tomato Season and I am stockpiling the best apples from among the windfalls (most go by the wheeelbarrowful across the road, outside my fence, for the deer). Soon I’ll to get out the wooden tripod apple ladder and do some proper picking. See you soon again I hope!

  20. Sherrill says:

    I read with interest your applesauce and tomato sauce. I like both to very smooth, so I cook each down and put through my old fashioned folley food mill and get rid of all skins. Then I cook the tomato sauce with all the italian spices and meatballs and what I don’t eat for dinner that night I can or freeze the rest. Applesauce I cook down the apples and put through the foley food mill and add cinnamon and can or freeze. My family and friends love both and they too like both smooth with no skins or lumps.

  21. margaret says:

    Welcome, Sherrill. Both sound delicious…the food mill is a great tool. I have my grandmother’s, actually…maybe it needs to come out of retirement? Hope to see you soon again.

  22. Happily just discovered you. So yummy. I add a cup of Merlot(it is very hard to reserve this for cooking, but well worth it)to my big pot of tomato sauce ingredients. Also, a few carrots, the kids never know they are there;-)

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