Intense Apricot Applesauce

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Yield: About

    2½ cups

Appears in

When my father came home from his Saturday night gin game on Sunday morning, he would often bring lox, bagels, and bialys from The Delicacy Shop, the Jewish appetizing store in our Long Island community. When the triple “schnides” (from “Schneiders”—gin rummy shutouts) were in his favor, we’d awaken to a breakfast of salmon in its many other guises—baked, pickled, and smoked Nova Scotia—style—as well as sable, whitefish, herring in sour cream sauce, scallion cream cheese, and beefsteak tomatoes.

But always there would be the Middle Eastern confection we knew as shoe leather—a sheet of dried apricot, rolled as thin as onion skin, as mouth-puckering as lemonade.

Is it me or the shoe leather? Today’s leather, or its many unflattering imitations, is too sweet, or too thick, or too bland. I’d never make it, though—it is the kind of craving, like pistachio nuts, that demands instant gratification. When I hunger for the taste, I tuck into the tartest dried apricots I can find (in Middle Eastern or Jewish appetizing stores, these are usually the ones from California, not Turkey). If I have enough left over, I make this applesauce, which is wonderful with latkes or pot roast—or just a spoon.

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Ingredients

  • About ½ cup (2½–3 ounces) tart dried apricots (approximately 15), cut into quarters
  • 1⅓—1½ cups apple juice
  • 1 vanilla bean, split
  • ½ teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger
  • Salt
  • About 2 pounds apples, unpeeled, cored, and cut into chunks (6 cups)—if you want to puree the sauce in a food processor instead of a food mill, peel the apples (choose the freshest local apples available—a mixture of sweet, spicy varieties, like Gravenstein, Gala, Braeburn, Stayman Winesap, and Grimes Golden, rather than tart Granny Smith or Rhode Island Greening, will work best in this tangy sauce)

Method

  1. Simmer the apricots, 1⅓ cups apple juice, the vanilla bean, ginger, and a pinch of salt in a 6-quart Dutch oven or very wide, heavy saucepan, covered, until the apricots are very tender, about 25 minutes (but it may take longer if the fruit is particularly dry). Add the apples, and continue cooking, covered, until very soft, another 25 minutes or so. Stir occasionally, and add additional juice, if required, to prevent sticking. When ready, the mixture should be thick and pulpy, with no liquid visible. If necessary, boil it a few minutes, uncovered, to evaporate any remaining liquid.
  2. Remove the vanilla bean (if desired, rinse and dry it, so it can be reused or added to granulated sugar to flavor it). Put the fruit through a food mill. Or, if you used peeled apples, you can puree it in a food processor to a smooth or slightly chunky consistency, as you prefer.
  3. Cover and refrigerate until chilled. It is also lovely—and more assertive—served warm or room temperature.

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