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Sonoma Family Life Magazine

Sugar & Spice

By Joanne Neft

Want a new take on the humble apple? Try this recipe, which uses sugar and lemon to amplify the tangy sweetness of autumn’s signature fruit. The result tastes like apple pie without the crust. Even better is the inspired finish of crème fraîche or crystallized ginger. All in all, this dish makes a great, quick after-school snack or a light, relatively healthy dessert. Come find me at the Gravenstein Apple Fair on August 9 in Sebastopol, and let me know if your family likes it. I’ll be eager to hear your feedback, and about your own apple recipes.

The World's Best Applesauce

  • 4 pounds cooking apples, peeled and quartered (save peelings)
  • 1 cup fresh unfiltered, unsweetened apple juice
  • 1/2 lemon, peeled (peelings julienne)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (from peeled lemon)
  • 1 cinnamon stick, 4 inches long
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Crème fraîche (optional)
  • Crystallized ginger chips (optional)


  1. Place apple peels in 2-quart saucepan. Add 1/4 to 1/3 cup apple juice. Cover and simmer 1 hour, or until peels can be easily pierced with a kitchen fork. (After 20 minutes check to make sure there is enough juice in the pan so peelings do not burn; add more juice if necessary.)
  2. Remove pan from heat and cool slightly; puree apple peelings with a hand blender. Set aside.
  3. Place quartered apples, lemon peel, lemon juice, cinnamon, sugars, salt, and remaining apple juice.
  4. In a large sauce pan or pot, bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce heat, and simmer until apples are falling apart. Remove from heat; remove cinnamon stick and lemon peelings.
  6. Mash apples roughly with a potato masher. Gently fold pureed apple peelings into apples until well blended.

To serve: Place 1/2 cup applesauce in small bowl; top with a teaspoon of crème fraîche or a sprinkle of crystallized ginger chips.