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latke debate: apple sauce v. sour cream

It's the classic sweet v. savory question. (Not unlike U Chicago's latke/hamentashen debate.) I like both, but I'm leaning to the sour cream side these days...

Any strong preferences out there?

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  1. APPLE SAUCE!!!! Especially really chunky homemade (or homemade style) applesauce.

    Now I want latkes.

    1. Usually for me it's sour cream, except this time of year I like to have it with some fresh homemade applesauce.

      1. Sour cream just doesn't cut it for you?

        1. In my Polish (Catholic) New Jersey family, these are called "platki," but essentially the same thing, and we ALWAYS had them only with sour cream, so that's definitely my preference.

          I didn't know applesauce was even a traditional accompaniment until I was probably an adult. I've tried it, but it's just not the same.

          2 Replies
          1. re: allegro805

            Our Polish Catholic side of the family called them "bleenies," and served them with ketchup. I still prefer them that way.

            1. re: Atlantis

              Blinis aren't the same as latkes, they're more like a crepe, and usually rolled around a filling of some sort.

          2. Sour Creme all the way. Latkes should be crunchy, salty, and studded with green onion or chive and then the sour creme just is the natural accomaniment.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Atahualpa

              I agree the latkes should be crunchy, salty and with onion and all, but still, go well with both the tanginess of the cream and sweetness of applesauce. Put me down in the must have both together camp!

            2. I've always liked both together.

              1. Both. The applesauce needs to be homemade and unsweetened.

                    1. re: jackie de

                      Both for me three.

                      The applesauce has to be homemade, though -- unpeeled apples and apple cider ONLY, and the sour cream... you remember the Breakstone's commercials from (urgh) 10-15 years ago, where the guy screams, "NOT THICK ENOUGH!!!!"

                      That's me. Or my brother-analogue.

                  1. latkes get applesauce, blintzes get the sour cream (or blueberries)

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: sportnoy1

                      mmm, now you have me thinking of blueberry blintzes with sour cream

                    2. Yeah, both. I didn't even realize there was supposed to be a choice between one or the other.

                      6 Replies
                        1. re: rworange

                          In my family, the other split is whether to put salt or sugar on matzoh bri. We divide pretty fiercely along those sweet and savory lines

                          1. re: alisonlara

                            My family has the same debate about whether the kugel should be savory or sweet. We now have a savory kugel and a sweet one whenever we have kugel.

                            1. re: alisonlara

                              Would you believe that someone in my family likes his matzo brei with ketchup? Oh, the horror! The horror! I'm the several-heaping-teaspoons-of-sugar type myself.

                              Now, with latkes, it's sour cream all the way. I don't recall ever even trying it with applesauce -- it just seemed wrong to me -- despite my mother putting it on the table (and other people eating it happily) at the latke party every year.

                              1. re: Kitchen Imp

                                Matzo brei: Cinnamon sugar and whipped cream cheese

                                Blintzes: Sour cream

                                Kugel: No topping for either sweet or savory (My family has both sweet and savory kugel specialists).

                                1. re: Kitchen Imp

                                  I love ketchup and matzo brei! But my favorite is tabasco and jelly together.

                            2. I like to eat my sour cream with latkes

                              1 Reply
                              1. Applesauce, for both latkes and blintzes. Sour cream wasn't even mentioned for these when I was growing up.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Chocolatechipkt

                                  We never did applesauce on blintzes. Usually we used frozen strawberries or raspberries, ocaisionally blueberries.

                                2. Mom always served them with canned peaches- the syrup was a pretty good accompaniment. Now it's sour cream first, applesauce second for me.

                                  1. sour cream, applesauce mixed together with a dash of rough cut kosher salt-man that's good!

                                    1. I wonder if it started as kosher thing. Sour cream for dairy meals and apple sauce for meat/parve meals.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: alisonlara

                                        I don't think so, my understanding is that Ashkenazi Jews from Russia tend to prefer sweet and those from Polish prefer savoury - hence the debate re kugel, sour cream vs. applesauce, sweet vs. sour cabbage borscht. A lot depends on how your mother or grandmother did it. A lot of course have influences from both Polish and Russian and like both. In my family growing up, my mom always made everything savoury and sour (borscht) and my aunt always made sweet (they both still do :)
                                        I tend towards the savoury, but I like certain things sweet - like my applesauce mixed with the sour cream.
                                        Someoe mentioned matzoh bri, I vote for lots and lots of salt.

                                        1. re: pescatarian

                                          Sorry but I don't think that is correct.....I am Polish Jewish on both sides of my family and it was ALWAYS sweet or sweet and sour.....matzoh brei, stuffed cabbage, noodle kugel, etc., etc., etc.

                                          1. re: pescatarian

                                            It's actually the opposite: Russian is savory, Polish and further west, including Vienna, is sweet. There is actually something called the Gefilte Fish Line which helps explain the exact divide. You can Google it or look up the Cowhound thread about Gefilte Fish. The link is in my post.

                                            Viennese Gefilte Fish = sweet. The Gefilte Fish I had in Krakow was also sweet. Don't like it that way. Fish + sugar = yuck.

                                            For latkes, applesauce is essential. There's already enough fat from the frying. I need something to 'cut' the heaviness, not add to it.

                                        2. Major debate in Jfood land. I am purist on applesauce with latkes, sour cream on blintzes. DW is just the opposite. Oh, and blintzes can ONLY be cheese, cherry, blueberry, potato, etc. Blueberries have ruined bagels and I fear my children will suffer from these catastophic mistakes. Only kidding guys!

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: jfood

                                            I am exactly the same! ONLY applesauce with latkes. Sour cream is for blintzes.

                                          2. Both! and/or maple syrup.

                                            1. Sour cream and salt here!

                                                1. For most of us, it is hard to get away from that which are taste buds were imprinted with when we were young. But now, we are grown up adults and can discriminate more objectively.

                                                  Come to think about it, with food, it may be more difficult!

                                                  I grew up with applesauce with latkes, sour cream on blintzes.

                                                  Now, with my adventures with Indian food, I think of the makeup of chutneys, where fruits are combined with vegetables. I find that that the applesauce has a moderating affect on the salty and oil nature of the latke. For me, it brightens up the experience of the latke eating. I find that sour cream creates a different effect - not worse, but different. My preference is for applesauce.

                                                  Sour cream on the blintzes enriches that experience - blintzes/sour cream vs. latkes/applesauce are foods of different textures. I know it's subjective, but to me, the combination of applesauce with the fried potato mixture and sour cream with warm gooey blintzes (what fruit and cheese fillings aren't delicious? - what is also to be savored is a tender dough in which the fillings are enclosed - some dough is stiff and tough to chew through whereas others are very tender, rich and yet light) are matches made in heaven. L'chaim!

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: FelafelBoy

                                                    That was great and an excellent reason for using applesauce with latkes.

                                                    1. re: FelafelBoy

                                                      Ahh, great description...

                                                      I prefer both, and one time I sneaked in a little goat cheese on top. Very yummy.

                                                    2. So far it's always been sour cream for me, but you know, I never even thought to have them BOTH together!

                                                      I'm definitely going to try that the next time we have latkes...which will be soon because now I'm thinking about them and craving them!


                                                      1. Both, of course. Transcend the binary opposition!

                                                        1. Sour cream and horseradish, my default garnish.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: phofiend

                                                            Oh my...horseradish sounds marvelous...have to write that down :)

                                                          2. I eat them plain.


                                                            I don't put applesauce or sour cream on my potato latkes.

                                                            1. sour cream.

                                                              I grew up in a predominantly jewish town, had many jewish friends and got to experience the loveliness of a homemade latke. Now I don't know where to eat this lovely morsel where it isn't a hard, dense hockey puck.

                                                              Should I attempt to make it myself? Is there such a thing as a good store brand Latke? Will someone lend me their bubbe?

                                                              3 Replies
                                                              1. re: Veggietales

                                                                I've never encountered a good store bought version. If you're ever in TO around Chanukah, you can stop by our family party, lol - or I can give you a recipe, they are not that hard to make - just can be a "putchke" because you have to make sure you remove most of the water from the grated potatoes and then you have to cook them in small batches (helps if you have more than one pan going at once.

                                                                1. re: pescatarian

                                                                  thanks for the invite. it's only a 30 min. from toluca lake.

                                                                  I think i'm going to try to make latkes. I'll report on the outcome.

                                                                2. re: Veggietales

                                                                  Veggietales - the absolute essential key in having any chance to making a decent latke is to positively soak the shredded potato in water, let some of the starch rinse out, drain the destarched potatoes, let it dry, and then add the required ingredients afterwards. You can add your own variety of vegetables after the basics, but I have found that de-starching the potatoes allows for a latke of better consistency. (Do a google search for latke+recipes to get some ideas.)

                                                                  Another poster in this thread mentioned that they add ketchup to the latke. As a joke, I had thought of that too, because I do like ketchup with potatoes (except for mashed), and a latke is potato-based, in most cases ... I have read recipes where a different starch is used, such as a sweet potato or yam. Yes, ketchup would go with the latke, but ... a latke is a different critter than a french fry! It requires a more sophisticated accompaniment! You can have ketchup with it, but it really is a more enriching experience to have something else with it, like applesauce, or perhaps some other fruit sauce (cranberry sauce?, pear sauce?) or as some swear by, the sour cream.
                                                                  As it is stated somewhere in the bible, "Do to the Latke, and the Latke will do to you." In other words, you eat it with ketchup, you will have a ketchup experience. Eat it with applesauce, you will have an applesacue experience. Not better or worse, just different depending on what you can handle and/or desire.

                                                                  Just remember, the Israelites would have had a different experience, and perhaps evolution, if Pharoah had been presented with a Latke. I can almost hear him doing a Homer Simpson-type response of ... " Mmmmm, Latke! Do what you want, but just get me more of this stuff!"

                                                                3. Sour cream ONLY for me. I don't like apples and potatoes, as I'm never a fan of sweet & savory.

                                                                  1. Applesauce AND sour cream for me.

                                                                    Mrs. W., who makes a mean latke, eats hers with ketchup and shredded cheddar cheese

                                                                    1. With really good latkes, neither! With decent ones, either. Crappy ones - forget it.

                                                                      But I used to love ketchup on my latkes.....everyone looked at me weird. But the prototypical ketchup food is ---- french fries (fried potatotes) so why not latkes?

                                                                      1. I like apple sauce and I like sour cream-it depends on my mood-salty or sweet

                                                                        1. Normally sour cream only, that's because I can't stand the store brought apple sauce. If I have time to make homemade apple sauce, then it's both.

                                                                              1. re: beef

                                                                                I had totally forgotten about sugar. I think this what my mother put on them for us when we were really young and hadn't yet developed a taste for either sour cream or applesauce. Wow. That brought back a long lost sense memory. Thanks.

                                                                                1. re: mshpook

                                                                                  We always eat them with sugar. My grandmother makes her latkes a bit different, she pulverizes the potato and uses no onion. I haev to try to recreate these this year, as she's not up to cooking now.

                                                                              2. Sour cream. You know what happened to the kids who used apple sauce? They joined the Taliban, that's what. Apple sauce is sacrelige in my house.

                                                                                1. I was making potato pancakes before I knew they were "latkes". I always add lots of onion, some garlic powder and Italian seasoning. Like that, they're terrific plain.

                                                                                  1. Sour Cream, sour cream, sour cream, until about the 6th or 7th one..... then the sour cream starts to get rich, and I like to switch to apple sauce... :)

                                                                                    My wife reaches for the ketchup though....