Dis­cov­er­ing the se­cret be­hind Mom’s pink ap­ple­sauce

More of Our Canada - - The Way It Was - By Ali­son Dik­land, El­gin­burg, Ont.

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.” ■

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