Monday, October 5, 2009

(Naturally) Gluten-Free Vegan Treats: Homemade Applesauce

As you may have read a few weeks ago, Celiac Disease has turned my cooking, eating, and food writing life upside down. I'm back to square one, learning all over again how to bake, grocery shop, and eat in restaurants. Avoiding gluten is much trickier than avoiding animal products.

For the first full week of the Vegan Month of Food, I've decided to celebrate foods that are naturally vegan and gluten-free: no altering, veganizing, or substitutions necessary. I'll attempt to rekindle my sense of self-worth in the kitchen (GF baking is not going well), and respond to those who declare, puzzlingly, that they "just don't like vegetarian food." (What these folks are really saying is that they lack imagination and are afraid of lentils; I wonder if they would refuse apple pie, or potato chips, or a bacon-free banana split.) This week I'll highlight autumn foods loved by even the most dedicated carnivores, foods that are easy to find or prepare, and which contain no meat, eggs, dairy, or gluten.

I'll begin with that October classic, homemade applesauce. Apple picking is my all-time favorite: nothing beats a cool fall day, kicking up the dry leaves between the rows of trees. Unfortunately, we've had some rainy weekends and haven't made it to the orchard yet. Instead, I picked up a a half-peck bag of MacIntosh at Saturday's rainy farmers' market (what crazy system of measurement is this?). Without a food mill, I'm peeling and coring and slicing by hand, so I make apple sauce in small batches. It requires no recipe, just a large pot, a vegetable peeler, a paring knife, and some patience.

I put the peeled and sliced apples in a large pot with 2 cups of water (you can use apple juice or cider, I was just being cheap) and a cinnamon stick. No sugar needed. I brought the water to a boil over medium-high heat, then covered the pot and reduced the heat to medium-low. Ten minutes later, I had steaming apple mush. I removed the cinnamon stick, took the pot off the stove, and went at it briefly with a potato masher. Voila! Local apple sauce that's cheaper, healthier, and tastier than store bought.

This made about 8 cups of applesauce. I froze most of it in two cup portions, which I'll bake with all winter. If you want applesauce for snacking or stirring into oatmeal, try tossing maple syrup, lemon juice, or other fruits into the pot (wouldn't pears be nice?).


  1. Sugar free apple sauce sounds divine! I'll have to pick up half peck this weekend at the market.

  2. I like your attitude! the applesauce (and apples) look lovely!

  3. Funny, my friend and teacher Lisa Silverman once said that people practicing macrobiotics will call their friends and say I had such and such for dinner tonight and the friend will say, no kidding I had the same thing too.

    Do you think that goes for people eating a vegan diets too? I blogged about apple sauce today because I'm eating it a lot lately. Looks like you are too, Mary. ;-)

  4. Sorry the GF baking isn't going so well! I am sure you'll get the hang of it. Homemade applesauce sounds like a good alternative when you want something sweet though!

    Can you have spelt flour? Ricki's cookbook "Sweet Freedom" has some gluten free recipes, but I think they contain spelt flour.

  5. Your applesauce looks wonderful! I can't believe that it seems so easy to make your own applesauce, I should try to make it very soon. I hope you'll find a better way of GF baking soon:)

  6. I am loving your (Naturally) Gluten-Free posts this week! The applesauce looks wonderful. I am trying to wean myself off of gluten and following your feed has been inspiring :)


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