I was 15 the first time I visited Manhattan with my parents and it wasn’t a typical visit. We were in town for Designer’s Saturday. My father, an architect, looked forward to this annual event with over 100 showrooms and exhibits featuring designs, drawings, models and furniture by inspiring design professionals. We got a map of the participating studios and walked around the city from one exhibit or showroom to another, looking at modern, eclectic and contemporary designs. I thought it was a very cool way to spend a weekend, but my favorite part were the little favors that were present at every stop along the way.
When I say favors — I mean, food. We’d go to one showroom and they’d ply us with warm chocolate chip cookies, another would have hot spiced cider. Just enough little bites and nibbles to keep us moving through a chilly autumn afternoon. I loved the hospitality aspect of it. One of the simplest, yet most memorable offerings was displayed in an enormous anodized bucket. It was loaded with bright red and green splashed McIntosh apples.
My knowledge of the apple spectrum at age 15 was minimal — basically, I was familiar with two varieties — the tart-sour Granny Smiths or those meh, Red Delicious. This was my first McIntosh and it was transformative. I marveled as I munched it all the way down to the core, savoring every morsel.
From then on, I’ve always been on the lookout for those McIntoshes but there’s been a few times I’ve been disappointed. They don’t have the long shelf life of other more hearty varieties — and so to find them in South Florida with all of its crispy-juicy-honey-puckery characteristics is rare.
So when I do, I buy them and eat them. Sometimes right out of hand, other times, cut into wedges with a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar or a smear of crunchy peanut butter. And when my eyes are bigger than my stomach and I buy more than I can possibly eat, I make applesauce.
And let me just say, that McIntosh apples make THE BEST APPLESAUCE! I’m a purist when it comes to this simple fruit pur?e. The fewer ingredients and embellishments, the better. For this recipe, I used a tablespoon of brown sugar and the juice of one lime. If you like cinnamon and nutmeg, you could add them — but I beg you — don’t do it until you taste the unadulterated version first. You may change your tune on the mix-ins, it’s that good!
The season is relatively short for McIntosh apples - though I've seen some in stores lasting through February and March (but those are the ones that have been in cold storage) Get 'em while they're at their peak -- and make this applesauce!
- 4-5 McIntosh apples peeled, seeded and cut into 1" dice
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 lime juiced
- 2 tablespoons water
Into a medium saucepan, add the apples, brown sugar, lime juice and water. Cover the pot tightly and heat to boiling. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 5-8 minutes, until apples are tender. Transfer to a blender or food processor and pulse 3-4 times to desired consistency. If you like it chunky, process it less -- or for uber-smooth -- pulse a few more times. Serve chilled or at room temperature.