An unlikely pairing...
Applesauce of Love and Hate…?? Strong words, right? What could that even mean!
Well, if you know Talea, you probably know how she feels about the Bartlett Pear…she loves them sooooo much. SO MUCH! Just. So. Much.
And the Honeycrisp apple??? Well….not so much.
So last week I was up way too early in the morning, and after I made the requisite coffee, and had checked my email, and hung up the laundry, I had an hour to explore the far reaches of the universe of last-minute-why-not culinary creations. In other words, I had a pile of Bartlett pears that were SO RIPE that it was kind of an emergency situation, and the only apples I had in the house were the dreaded (usually not good for cooking) Honeycrsip. Aye. So I was thinking, hmmmmm…maybe I should just cook them together and see what happens? I dunno. I figured the worst case scenario was that it would be a super ordinary kind of blah applesauce.
Little did I know that I was on the verge of something MAGICAL.
For absolutely no reason at all, I peeled the honeycrisps. Why! I don’t know. Just a feeling. Then I did NOT peel the Bartletts. Again, some woo-woo, psychic feeling. I did not add any sugar (people say it is the root of all evil, not that that would have stopped me), and when it was almost cooked to the consistency I like, I added about a 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon.
And then I tasted it! Oh my gosh! Incredible! The sweetness and juice of the Honeycrisps was just apple-y enough to let the floral, subtle, silkiness of the Bartlett pear to shine through. I think if I had cooked the sauce with the apple skins on, and run it through the mill like I usually do, the skins would have added too strong a taste, and too much of a pectin-y texture.
The proof came when I gave Talea a jar first thing in the morning and she ate the whole thing! So then I felt like I had something really good, recipe-wise, and it reconciled the (imaginary, cuz I made it up, let’s be real) rivalry between the elegant, delicate flavor of the Bartlett pear and the one-trick-pony-sweetness of the Honeycrisp apple. WIN!
The recipe follows below- let me know what you think??
And speaking of the Honeycrisp, we thought that this might be a good moment to fill you in on a little bit more of the history of this apple, and how it came to be so popular. Our own Marni MacGregor penned this next section, which is an excerpt from a CSA newsletter she wrote for our farm share customers. It will give you a little bit more of an idea about apple breeding and the science behind the creation of new apple varieties. Just a little something to think about while you’re cooking up some sauce! Enjoy!
“Yet another Minnesota beauty is in your hands this week, the Honeycrisp apple. While many attribute the apple’s release date in 1992 as the dawn of it’s creation, the Honeycrisp’s development at the University of Minnesota fruit research station began over 30 years earlier. Breeding apples is an exhaustive process of creation, patience, and elimination. Breeders first have to combine the traits of two apples by hand pollinating the flowers of one tree with the pollen from the other. Once those flowers evolve into ripe fruit, apple breeders will the harvest the seeds. A tree can produce 200-500 seeds but a breeder only selects a portion of those, then waits several years for those seeds to mature into fruit-bearing trees. Then, it’s time to evaluate which seedling trees produced apples with the desired characteristics. Are they cold hardy? Are they prone to disease? Does the seedling graft easily onto new rootstock? Is the tree immune to fire blight, or the fruit resistant to bitter pit, or flyspeck? Do the apples color nicely? Is their skin too delicate to make it to market? Is the flesh creamy, and does it crutch delightfully? And finally, does it taste any good? This process takes years of trial and error. Determining this at the Minnesota breeding station is the job of David Bedford, the head Research Pomologist. Guess what Mr. Bedford is doing any given day this fall? Walking up to a tree, picking an apple, taking a bite, then spitting it out, over and over, and over, and over again, like a traveling sommelier. My father is also an apple breeder and I’ve watched him do this in our orchard, picking and biting and spitting. By the end of the day he’ll place a handful of apples on the kitchen table and make my mother and I have a go at it, his taste buds too dizzy with flavors. So while Honeycirsp was released 1992, the original seedling tree, the child of Keepsake and another unknown apple, was planted in 1962 and not selected for further testing until 1974. Honeycrisp has overcome the apple market for the past 15 years, but it was an idea decades before.”
- 10-12 Honeycrisp Apples
- 4 PERFECTLY RIPE Bartlett Pears
- 1/4 to 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
- Peel, core and chop the honeycrisp apples and put them into a pot
- Wash, core, and chop (but DON'T peel) the Bartlett pears, and add them to the apples
- Pour in a bit of water, about enough to cover the bottom of the pan an inch
- Cover, and put on medium heat
- When the apples and pears begin to soften by the steaming water, turn heat down a bit and cook, covered, for about 15 minutes
- When the apples and pears have become soft enough to mash with a fork, smush them all up in the pot with a potato masher
- Continue to cook on low heat, this time with the lid slightly ajar, until you get a nice smooth consistency, usually about 15-20 minutes. The longer you cook them, the thicker the sauce will get.
- Add cinnamon to taste
- DEVOUR warm, in a bowl, or right out of the pot with a spoon- when it's a bit cooled off of course!