I know this may look like plain jane applesauce, but it's not. It has pizazz, and fire and spice. It bites.

And that's a good thing, because to be honest, I was getting a bit tired of plain jane. It's been apple season for a while now, and we were overdue for a change.

Insert cranberries. Tart, saucy, firm—the perfect antidote to jane. Colorful, too, in this drab and dreary weather.

They were just what was called for, given the quality of the apples in the fridge. The once firm balls were terrible: mushy, mealy, soft. They had every quality I dislike in an apple, redeemed only by a bit of sweetness and a fine red coat. Luckily, they could still be cooked, and with the company of cranberries, well enough to hope this simple act would save them.

Oh, did it save them. It turned them from white to pink. It kicked up sweet with tart, textured soft with firm, swept out undertones of September crisp. It was not plain jane. Even the skeptic in my house agreed; this was very good applesauce.

It was easy, too, same as any plain jane. Meld fruit, water, and heat, and you really can't go wrong. Along with a food mill and two strong arms, this is all you need. A jar goes a long way for storage, and a nice big bowl helps for snacking. Beyond that, it's cranberries and a few bad apples. So don't work too hard, and enjoy.


Makes 1 quart

Place 5 to 6 apples, medium size, soft, and sweet, in a large soup pot. Add 1 cup cranberries, fresh, and 1/2 cup quince, sliced (optional). Cover bottom of pot with about 1 to 2 inches water, cover, and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to medium low, and continue cooking until fruit is soft. Crank through a food mill with a bowl beneath to catch the sauce. Serve warm or cold, or, if you're as strange as me, sometimes with a splash of cream.

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All text, photographs, and other original material copyright 2008-2010 by Elspeth Hay unless otherwise noted.