AN APPEALING IDEA
Discovering the secret behind Mom’s pink applesauce
My mother always made pink applesauce. At a time before companies added strawberries or other fruits to flavour their sauce, I never questioned the rosy sauce until I had left home for college and could not purchase pink applesauce anywhere. When at a friend’s house, finicky eater that I was, I refused to eat the golden sauce offered. It just wasn’t right. I was used to pink applesauce, and was bewildered when everyone I spoke to about it looked at me with furrowed brows.
My family often devoured pink applesauce with our dinner. It was a regular staple with our meals: Most likely, my mother thought it would help us choke down the dreaded Brussels sprouts or equally nauseating turnip she’d occasionally insist was good for us. We had to stay at the table until our vegetables were gone.
Since our dog refused to eat them from our fingers under the table, my sister would hide her half-eaten Brussels sprouts in her applesauce. I’d never waste my applesauce on a Brussels sprout—that’s what milk was for!
Each fall, Mom and I would go to a local apple farm to buy apples. “Pick the windfalls,” she’d say, “they’re best for applesauce.” I longed to pick the perfect apples from the trees, not understanding they were less economical than the windfalls. Together we picked bags of apples off the ground and carried them back to our station wagon. I’d dance around and ask, “When will you make the applesauce? Can I help you make it?” She’d always answer the same way: “I’ll make it tomorrow and you can have some when you come home from school.” I’d sigh dramatically but mull over my good fortune at having warm, pink applesauce when I got home.
The house smelled divine when I arrived home the
next day. The countertops were overflowing with containers of pink applesauce. Mom ladled out a dish of the heavenly treat for me and I sat at the table, polishing off bowl after bowl of the sweet, pink sauce. As I ate, she sat across from me and listened as I told her about my day. She always wore a smile as she listened. Year after year, we kept up this tradition.
When my children were young, I decided to begin my own applesauce tradition. We headed off to the local farm and together picked bags of apples. I heard myself say, “Pick the windfalls. They make the best applesauce!” My children helped peel the apples, put them in a pot with a little water and watched as they warmed and became soft. We each added a scoop of the cooked apples to the food mill and then turned the mill handle until the sweet applesauce filled our bowl. There was a problem. It was golden, not pink! What did I do wrong? We tasted the golden sauce and agreed that it did, in fact, taste very nice, even if it wasn’t pink.
Later that evening, when I spoke to my mom on the phone, I recounted our day. I could hear her smile when I told her how disappointed I was that I didn’t make pink applesauce. “Did you leave the peelings on? I never peel my apples. Just give them a good cleaning and leave them on. It’s less work and you make such a pretty pink sauce!” The next year, I tried it and made beautiful pink applesauce. My children, however, refused to eat it. They preferred the golden applesauce, “like we made last year.” ■