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Apple season calls for homemade applesauce -- and muffins

Recipes: Applesauce and applesauce muffins with pecans and coconut

Homemade applesauce makes great muffins for an almost-fall breakfast or snack.

Homemade applesauce makes great muffins for an almost-fall breakfast or snack.

Debbie Arrington

Fall is apple season, and my crop “dropped” early. All the heat pushed the fruit on my Granny Smith tree to ripen weeks earlier than usual. As temperatures soared in early September, apples started falling off the limbs – a month or more before my usual harvest time.

What to do with slightly bruised apples? Make applesauce. Cut off the damage and save the rest.

Regardless of the weather, I make applesauce every fall to preserve as much of my single tree’s crop as possible. The real beauties, I save out for pies or tarts. But the rest goes into the applesauce pot.

Two green apples and a container of applesauce on a wooden surface
The Granny Smith harvest started early this year.

Making fresh applesauce is easy but takes patience and a good food mill. (The design has changed little over the generations; I use the same hand-cranked food mill that was used by my great-grandmother.) The food mill separates the skin and seeds from the pulp after cooking, and creates a smooth, thick applesauce.

This method works if you have just 3 pounds of apples – or enough apples to fill the whole pot.

To make applesauce, start with a large, heavy pot. Put 1 inch of water in the bottom of the pot. Wash and cut apples into quarters, discarding stems and any browned parts. Add apples to pot and bring water to boil. Cover and reduce heat to simmer. Cook apples until soft, stirring occasionally (the apples on the bottom will cook faster).

When apples are soft and mushy, transfer in batches to a food mill and process. To the apple pulp, add sugar to taste. (Depending on the tartness of the apples, usually about ½ to 1 cup per 4 cups of apple pulp.) That’s it!

Store applesauce in the refrigerator or freeze. It also can be canned in a hot-water bath; process jars for 10 minutes in boiling water.

Now what to do with that fresh applesauce? Besides being a wonderful side dish, applesauce is a great ingredient in baked goods.

These applesauce muffins are rich and full of fresh apple goodness. They’re great for breakfast or an anytime snack.

Applesauce muffins with pecans and coconut

Makes 12 muffins


1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ cup sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

¾ cup applesauce

1 egg, beaten

4 tablespoons (½ stick) butter or margarine, melted and cooled

½ cup pecans, finely chopped

1/3 cup coconut, shredded

2 tablespoon demerara or white granulated sugar


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Prepare a muffin tin; either grease cups or line with paper or silicon liners.

In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Two muffins on a cream-colored plate
Muffins are studded with coconut and pecans.

In a smaller bowl, combine applesauce, egg and melted butter.

With the back of a wooden spoon, make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients in the big bowl. Pour the applesauce mixture all at once into the well. Add pecans and coconut.

With the wooden spoon, stir together all ingredients until just combined. (Don’t overwork; it makes muffins tough and creates holes.) Batter will be very thick and somewhat lumpy.

With two spoons, drop batter into prepared muffin cups, filling about 2/3 to ¾ full. Sprinkle demerara or granulated sugar over top of each muffin.

Bake muffins in 400-degree oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for 5 minutes in muffin tin before removing to rack or plate.

Serve warm or room temperature.

Looking for more apple recipes? Here are links to some of our past favorites:

Apple pie oatmeal bars

Mix and match apple crumble

Apple pie-cake


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of June 4:

Because of the comfortable weather, it’s not too late to set out tomato and pepper seedlings as well as squash and melon plants. They’ll appreciate this not-too-hot weather. Just remember to water.

* From seed, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, melons, squash and sunflowers.

* Plant basil to go with your tomatoes.

* Transplant summer annuals such as petunias, marigolds and zinnias.

* It’s also a good time to transplant perennial flowers including astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia, salvia and verbena.

* Let the grass grow longer. Set the mower blades high to reduce stress on your lawn during summer heat. To cut down on evaporation, water your lawn deeply during the wee hours of the morning, between 2 and 8 a.m.

* Tie up vines and stake tall plants such as gladiolus and lilies. That gives their heavy flowers some support.

* Dig and divide crowded bulbs after the tops have died down.

* Feed summer flowers with a slow-release fertilizer.

* Mulch, mulch, mulch! This “blanket” keeps moisture in the soil longer and helps your plants cope during hot weather.

* Thin grapes on the vine for bigger, better clusters later this summer.

* Cut back fruit-bearing canes on berries.

* Feed camellias, azaleas and other acid-loving plants.

* Trim off dead flowers from rose bushes to keep them blooming through the summer. Roses also benefit from deep watering and feeding now. A top dressing of aged compost will keep them happy. It feeds as well as keeps roots moist.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushier plants with many more flowers in September.

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