One of the saddest things I have ever seen was a documentary on a bunch of Amish who had been ostracised from their community. It followed these ex-Amish types who had been cast out, presumably because they wanted to use a food processor, or the internet, or wear the wrong type of hat, or go out and get pissed, or something else that seems unimportant to some of us but that freaks out the Amish to no end.
Being ostracised from an Amish community isn’t so bad – you can go live somewhere else, use blenders and hair dryers, watch cats on the internet, use heroin and do anything that God forbids. The sad part, however, was when the couple hit hard times, and one of them ended up in hospital. Apparently this warranted a visit from their relatives, who came to see them. After they’d left, the girl of the couple was interviewed briefly. “They said they’d come back tomorrow, and they’re going to make us some apple sauce, so…”
It broke my heart. The sentence just died out like that, we never even found out what that ‘so’ meant. But I imagined it was something like “…so clearly they still love us a little.”, or maybe “…so clearly we’re not as godless as previously thought.” To me, the offer of apple sauce sounds like a poor way to reconnect, but it seemed that for them, there was a lot more to it than just the prospect of a free dessert. In it was the promise of forgiveness, acceptance, redemption.
Or maybe they just really fucking loved apple sauce. It is pretty delicious, it has to be said.
In the Netherlands there’s a thing like apple sauce as well, except they call it appelmoes, which description I find much more apt, as moes means something like ‘mash’ or ‘pulp’. The word sauce describes a condiment, and presumably something rather liquid and homogeneous. This version of appelmoes also exists, but it is a horrible product from usually industrial origins which is intended mostly for very small children who vomit up anything you give them indiscriminately, and elderly people with no teeth left in their mouths. Instead, we’re going to make home-made appelmoes, or applesauce, which is a lot more like a type of compote and much more delicious indeed. It’s also dead-easy to make, so if you intend to use it to reconcile with a long-lost family member, I recommend making something more elaborate.
You can serve appelmoes for dessert or breakfast with yoghurt, scoop it into your mouth just like that, or serve it at dinner with pork (in which case it becomes a condiment again).
For a good pot full of applesauce/moes, you will need:
- a kilo and a half of soft apples – I like to use rennets
- a cinnamon stick
- some sugar – to taste
- a bit of lemon peel, if you like – totally optional
- about 200 ml of water
Peel all of your apples, cut them into chunk and chuck them in a pot, preferably with a thick base. Now add some water (about 200 ml for a kilo and a half of apples, but use you own judgement), the cinnamon and the lemon peel if using. Don’t add the sugar yet!
Put the apples on medium heat, bring to a soft boil and simmer for a while. Stir occasionally, so that the apples start disintegrating. Leave to simmer for a while longer so that the cinnamon stick can do its work and diffuse its delicious cinnamony flavour.
After you sauce (or moes) has a consistency you’re happy with (I like mine still slightly chunky), take it off the heat and leave it to cool for a while. After it’s cooled down a little, add the sugar – they say that this way, you won’t have to add as much as when you add the sugar whilst cooking the apples. I’m not sure if its true, but I take it at face value anyway.
Here you go, that’s your apple sauce done.