Rave Recipe: Applesauce makes a tasty side dish for fall

RAVE RECIPEDo you have a recipe that friends and family are always asking you to make? Something that's requested whenever a potluck supper comes up? We'd like to write about your "Rave Recipe" and share it with our readers. Contact staff writer Clint Cooper at 757-6497 or ccooper@timesfreepress.com.

photo At Rising Farm (Ga.) Gardens, Karen Persinger combines two types of apples, butter, cinnamon and cognac or brandy, to make this rave-worthy applesauce.

ABOUT THE FARM• Arrowheads dating back thousands of years have been found in plowed fields at Rising Fawn Gardens.• In 1850, James Cureton purchased the property and constructed a grain mill on Lookout Creek.• During the Civil War, more than 5,000 Union troops camped on the farm while fighting battles around Chattanooga. n After the war, the mill was used to saw lumber and also as a textile mill.• The Dyer family purchased the property from the Curetons in 1937, and the Persingers bought it in 2007.• Today, the sustainable farm focuses on sunflowers, fruits, vegetables and supplemental feed for pasture-raised livestock.Source: risingfawngardens.com

With a growing brood of young grandchildren, Karen Persinger wanted to make some easy baby food.

She and her husband grow apples on their Rising Fawn Gardens farm in Georgia, so applesauce seemed like a good choice.

"I wanted to make [a dish] the grandkids can eat and enjoy," she says.

Since this is the farm's first year with apples, Persinger did not use their own fruit. "They're pretty tart," she says. "I hope they'll get sweeter."

So she created the recipe, Easy Homemade Applesauce, from several different recipes she and her daughter-in-law shared with each other. The use of two different apples, she says, probably came from one recipe, and the use of cognac or brandy and butter probably came from another.

"I would leave [the alcohol] out if I make it for the grandkids," she says, "but I think it gives it a nice, rich flavor."

Cinnamon as an ingredient is always good, Persinger says, and the use of unfiltered apple juice, "is especially good if making it for babies."

Persinger's grandchildren are 3 and almost 2 years old, and she and her husband, Steve, are expecting a third before the end of the year. Although their grandchildren live in Mobile, Ala., they try to see them as often as possible.

"I love to cook," Persinger says. "It's easy for me to come up with things. I look at other [recipes] to add different things."

Rising Fawn Gardens is located on 600 acres between Lookout Creek and the western slope of Lookout Mountain. To date, in addition to seven varieties of apples, it grows figs, cherries and pears, plus six varieties of blueberries.

The Persingers offer their fruits and vegetables - and the recipe for applesauce - at the Main Street Market on Wednesdays.

Gaining Ground, a program of the Benwood Foundation that works to promote the local food movement in the Chattanooga area, offers a monthly Facebook recipe contest involving an ingredient of the month. September's ingredient is apples.

Fans, in turn, can vote on the page for their favorite among the submitted recipes, with this month's winner receiving a gift certificate from a local market.

Easy Homemade Applesauce

3 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored and quartered

3 Fuji apples, peeled, cored and quartered

1 cup unfiltered apple juice

2 tablespoons cognac or brandy

2 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons honey

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In a large sauce pot, combine apples with all other ingredients. Bring to a boil and cook until apples are soft (20-30 minutes). Using a hand blender or potato masher, blend to desired consistency. Serve hot immediately or chill for later use.

If you like a sweeter applesauce, you can add 2 tablespoons of sugar. You can also use whatever variety of apples you have on hand, but combining two kinds gives the applesauce a richer flavor.

Contact staff writer Clint Cooper at ccooper@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6497. Subscribe to his posts online at Facebook.com/ClintCooperCTFP.

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