Applesauce is one of the best-known and best-loved Jewish preserves, because it is one of the two traditional toppings for latkes. (The other being sour cream. The arguments over which topping is better can get rather heated.) Latkes are a Jewish deli staple, but are perhaps best known as the traditional dish for the festival of Hanukkah, at least among Ashkenazi Jews.
In Europe, Ashkenazi Jews often made a version of applesauce that included foraged berries, such as raspberries or blackberries. I have updated that tradition by adding cranberries, that quintessential North American berry, to my applesauce. The cranberries add tartness and a beautiful rosy color. Make this crimson-hued applesauce in October or November, when whole cranberries and heirloom varieties of apples are readily available at farmers’ markets, and put up several jars to accompany your Hanukkah latkes in December or as a side dish for your Thanksgiving celebration.
This recipe is excerpted with permission from The Joys of Jewish Preserving by Emily Paster.
- 4 lb (1.8 kg) apples, preferably a mixture of sweet and tart varieties
- 2 cups (200 g) whole cranberries (fresh or frozen)
- ¼ cup (59 ml) lemon juice
- 1¼ cups (250 g) sugar
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp cloves
- Peel, core, and roughly chop the apples. Combine the apples, cranberries, ½ cup (120 ml) water and lemon juice in a large saucepan.
- Bring the liquid to a boil, turn down the heat to low and simmer the apples, covered, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, prepare a boiling water bath and heat four pint-sized (473 ml) jars.
- When the apples are tender, about 30 to 45 minutes depending on the varieties you use, remove from the heat. Mash the apples with a potato masher. For a smoother texture, purée with an immersion blender but leave some chunkiness.
- Add the sugar and spices and return mixture to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar and distribute the spices. Ladle the sauce into the clean, warm jars, leaving ¾ inch (2 cm) of space at the top.
- After the jar is filled, run a thin plastic utensil around the inside of the jar to release any air bubbles. This is known as “bubbling the jar.” Wipe the rims with a damp cloth.
- Place the lids on the jars and screw on the rings just until you feel resistance.
- Keep the jars in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Allow to cool in the water for 5 minutes before removing. Store in a cool, dark place for up to one year.