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I can’t imagine fall without a visit to an orchard for some good old apple picking.  And what better time than when the trees are in peak form, the air is as crisp as the apples and it is National Apple Month!  Last weekend was perfect for this apple picking adventure and we enjoyed every minute of it – from the pumpkin patch pictures, to the petting zoo and the actual picking…but once we got home the question was, what to do with all them apples?! An apple a day may keep the doctor away but when overzealous apple picking occurs there is no way to chomp through them all.  As much as a warm apple crisp or apple pie a la mode are delicious I wanted to turn these apples into something a bit lighter and healthier so I figured why not applesauce.   It may sound hard to believe, but I had never actually attempted homemade applesauce and all I can say is I do not think I can ever go back to store bough again. Applesauce is a simple, delicious way to enjoy the natural apple flavors, and adding spices offers the taste of higher-calorie apple desserts without the calories.  Served warm or chilled, applesauce makes the perfect breakfast oatmeal topper, daytime snack or after dinner treat. I read through several recipes and many called for multiple steps, sieves and other special equipment. In the end, I opted for an easy recipe and modified it based on our bounty of apples and my palate for spices.  Here is the recipe I worked with for a big batch of applesauce, which can be easily cut in half: Ingredients:

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12 medium size apples (I used a variety including Gala, Jonagold, Cortland, Empire and Crispin) 1 ⅓ cups water ½ cup sugar or 8 packets of splenda 2 teaspoons vanilla 2 teaspoons of cinnamon ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg ⅛ teaspoon allspice Directions: 1. Fill a medium size pan with water, sugar/splenda, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla. 2. Peel apples, cut out the cores and place in the pan and toss with water mixture. 3. Cover and cook for approx. 20 minutes and mash with a fork.  (We found that the flavors seem to taste better after chilling overnight.) —Rachel

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