Tuesday, June 9, 2009

June 9, 2009: You Are The Apple In My Eye

In my previous post, "Natural Selection", I had committed to sharing the progress I make in reducing waste.  You are probably wondering how one might use a whole blog to discuss apples, but here goes...

My children have a renewed interest in apple sauce since living here in France.  The reason?  They make it really fun to eat.  It comes in single serving pouches with straws.  The girls like to inhale the apple sauce very quickly and then keep the pouch and fill it with air or water and use it as a squirt gun.  They also have tons of flavors and the surprise of what one might get is exciting.  So it became obvious to me the other day that I need to start making apple sauce at home for a variety of reasons.  First, to stop producing so much garbage - they each eat at least one of these apple sauce pouches per day. Second, to prevent the apple sauce squirts that appear all over the girls and my walls that occur from post-apple sauce consumption empty pouches.  Third, we live in an area of France that produces TONS of apples and apple season is here so it should be cheap and easy to get access to tasty apples. Fourth, I came across a recipe in my favorite cookbook for apple sauce.  Fifth, no preservatives or additives make this a truly pure and healthy treat. Required?  Apples and water. Easy, right?

Upon a quick review of my cooking pots (sparse), it became clear that I needed a huge stockpot to cook the apples.  My intent was to make a ton and freeze it for easy replenishment.  So I invested in an affordable stock pot (28 Euros).  I then discovered that once I cooked the apples I would need a way to press the apple puree apart from the apples skins and seeds.  Initially I had visions of my mother as a child.  She would cook the apples (or cherries or grapes or tomatoes) and then put them into a huge cone-like funnel with strainer type holes and then press the cooked item through with a pestle.  My version of this was going to be a strainer I already had and a spoon to press the apples through.  But I had second thoughts. The recipe said that if you didn't have a food mill, now was the time to invest if you were serious about making apple sauce.  And I am.  So today I invested in a food mill (45 Euros).

With stock pot and food mill at hand, now all I needed was apples.  So I went down to my favorite fruit and veggie stand and asked for 10 local apples (4 Euros).  Carrying home the apples, I was having some doubts about having enough containers to hold all the piles of tasty apple sauce that my 10 apples would produce.  But I deduced that if I scoured the house and used all available containers I should be fine.

As indicated, I first added the 1/2 inch water to the bottom of the stock pot.  I washed the apples, sliced them into quarters and then added them to the water in the stock pot.  For the next 30 minutes or so I simmered and stirred the apples.  This was quite easy to do while I made dinner.  In fact, I started to question why I hadn't been making apple sauce up until now - what a cinch!  And with my new food mill, pureeing the apples would be so quick.  I was excited to share this apple sauce for dessert after dinner.

The apples were ready for the food mill just as I finished dinner. So I decided to wait until after dinner to speed the apples through for dessert.  When we were all finished eating, I excused my self to go and get dessert. I said it might take me 5 or 6 minutes tops, so to sit tight...

I started to assemble the food mill.  It came with three different strainer sizes.  Once I chose the right size, I merely had to attach the turning mechanism that pushes the apples through the strainer.  Now for some reason, that was not an easy task for me!  I kept looking for instructions in the box but there was nothing.  Eventually, I was able to force the turning mechanism to attach but I noticed it was nearly impossible to actually turn the handle.  Five minutes later I decided that it must turn easier once the apple sauce is added.  Probably lubricates the strainer part and produces apple sauce galore!

I added about 1/3 of the apples from the stock pot and excitedly began to try and turn the handle of the food mill.  Funny, I thought. Still tough to turn.  But I kept going.  And three turns into it disaster struck.  I mean I was literally forcing this handle to turn and all of the sudden the whole food mill just exploded, fell apart.  Apple remnants and juices flew with all the parts of the flying food mill and coated my shirt, shot me in the eye, splattered the walls and the counters.  Un-freaking-believable is all I could think!  This seemingly easy task had turned into a huge mess that momentarily blinded me!  

You can be sure I was not about to try and use that food mill, again, at least not for the night.  Andrew and the girls had no idea what was occurring in the kitchen.  This was a "closed-door-set" fortunately.  But it had been about 15 minutes now and they were all wondering what in the world was the hold up for a bowl of applesauce?  Cussing under my breath (I hope) while sponging up apple in the kitchen, I knew I had to deliver on my promise of apple sauce.  So what did I do?  I ended up putting the apples in a strainer and pressing the apples through with a spoon.  Like I had originally thought of doing.  10 minutes more later,  I finished.  Apple sauce. Voila!

Do you have any idea how much apple sauce is yielded from 10 apples?  Well, remember I was worried about having enough storage containers for all the excess.  And the reality is that we all had one serving each of the apple sauce and I was able to use half of a very small container to hold the leftovers.  Which will be gone by noon tomorrow.  

As you might expect, the appreciation from the girls and Andrew once I finally served this creation was not nearly up to the level that I needed after almost losing my eyesight while trying to provide them with healthy, homemade apple sauce.  But to be fair, they have no idea about the trials and tribulations one can encounter on the journey to a perfect batch of apple sauce.  I also don't serve mine in pouches with straws so automatically my apple sauce is inferior.  Personally, I think it tasted really good.  And it was nice and warm just like my mom's used to be.

Alas, despite a rocky start, I plan to keep making apple sauce.  But next time I won't wear a new shirt.  Also, I will try to find a tutorial on YouTube or something on how to assemble and use a food mill.   No one said the journey to Wasteless Land would be easy or injury-free, right?

P.S.  Above, I was quoting the prices of what it cost me to buy the supplies needed to make homemade apple sauce. The end result was 79 Euros.  I thought it was important to supply this information because one might think that it is cheaper just to buy apple sauce at the store after spending money on supplies.  But I did the math and after buying about 50 pouches of apple sauce - which lasts about 10 days in my house - you have already began saving money on making it yourself.

Pictured above: The fun apple sauce pouch with straw.  Regretfully, I didn't take a picture of my apple sauce explosion!


  1. What a great laughI just had - know it wasn't funny, BUT.... I will help you next week - I think about 3 apples make a cup! We will see you on Tuesday!

  2. OMFG - I have never laughed so hard. Ok, I'll help you:


    This demo looks so simple! *snicker*

  3. This was the best yet!! LOL, sorry, but soooo funny...LOL, you are the BEST Kate!! I loved it!!

  4. Are you getting ready to publish this blog?

  5. It's OK guys, it really was funny in retrospect. If any one of you had been in the kitchen with me we no doubt would have been rolling on the floor laughing and crying from laughing so hard.