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Tart (Bramley-style) apple sauce

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We are having roast goose for Thanksgiving dinner. If I were my English mother-in-law, I'd be serving Bramley apple sauce with it. Unfortunately, I live in the Eastern USA, and therefore cannot buy Bramleys--and as far as I've ever heard, no American apples cook quite like that. (For the Americans who have never had a Bramley, they are very tart cooking apples that cook into a fluffy puree.)

Normally, I make applesauce using McIntosh but that's much sweeter. Granny Smith is probably about tart enough, but supermarket Granny Smiths are so hard I'm afraid they won't cook into a sauce. Any ideas for which apples will give me a tarter sauce? The complicating factor is that I am limited to supermarket varieties as our farmers markets have all finished. I shop at Wegmans and their selection is fairly decent, but the selection still skews towards sweeter apples for eating.

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  1. Mm, that does complicate it a bit. You could mix Macs, Cortlands and Gravensteins and skip the sugar, if you use, or use a very minimal amount. I doubt whether you could get Pippins, Elstars or RI Greenings now; those would be farmer's market apples anyway. I can't imagine speaking with the produce manager at your market would be worth it. Sadly we don't have Bramleys in the US.

    My new favorite applesauce method, roast the apples in the oven, cored, skin on. Concentrates the flavor, delicious.

    4 Replies
    1. re: bushwickgirl

      I'm in the Northeast. I've never seen a Gravenstein here; I thought they were only grown in CA. If I were still near NYC, the greenmarket would probably offer more possibilities--I know I've seen a good variety there before Thanksgiving. The most exotic thing I'll get at Wegmans is a Stayman. (Or it may be a Winesap. The bin label says "Stayman Winesap", but the labels on the apples have been known to say either Stayman OR Winesap, so I don't know which I'm getting.)

      I wasn't planning on using sugar anyway. Even with Bramleys I only add a little. That's partly why it's going to be so tricky.

      I have a feeling I may be trying what I can get and crossing my fingers. As long as it's reasonably tart (ie. not store bought!) it ought to do.

      1. re: AlexisT

        Yes, a Gravenstein is essentially a West Coast apple, too bad. I'd skip the Stayman-Winesap, only really good for salads, baking and eating out of hand.

        I had some excellent NY state Macs recently, from a local supermarket, surprisingly tart.

        Here's a thought, add quince to you applesauce, they're tart and makes a good sauce. A few quince to 3 lbs of apples should be good. Also, if the sauce you end up with is not tart enough, a little lemon juice should help.

        Good luck.

      2. re: bushwickgirl

        Even if Alexis were in Northern California, she wouldn't be able to use Gravensteins (which are exceptional for sauce), as they are a summer apple, harvested in August, gone by early in September. They are not kept in cold storage and sold later in the year.

        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

          Just wishful thinking on my part.

      3. Not sure why you don't think a Granny Smith will cook down. They do. It might take a bit longer, they will work just fine.

        1 Reply
        1. re: wyogal

          I've had bad luck with Granny Smith in recent years and have basically shied away from using them 99% of the time. They're not juicy and don't get tender when baked in pies. I have a suspicion that they're being picked slightly underripe to keep them bright green--I've noticed that the farmers market ones have a slight blush and are much better.

        2. Gee, Lodi apples would probably give you the flavor you're going for but they ripen in summer & are hard to find. (My parents used to buy them by the bushel in Central PA, and someone in the Boston area spotted them at a farmer's market here last summer). But for next year, if you find some you could make applesauce & freeze it to serve with winter goose roasts.

          1. For the record, I wound up using a mix of Macs and Granny Smith. It's not quite as tart, but it's acceptable. I think I needed a little extra water because of the Granny Smiths.

            1 Reply
            1. re: AlexisT

              Good to hear. Enjoy!