The pickup: I adore the apple lady at the Saturday Portland Farmers’ Market. She is attentive and good-natured — and she sells wonderful apples. She favors uncommon varieties, or “Old World apples,” grown without chemical sprays. Because of this, not all of her apples are pretty; some sport blemishes and wormholes, and some are comically misshapen. No matter. She grows some of the best apples around.
It was at her table that I first tasted a Pink Pearl apple, a variety I had only read about. I was delighted with its amazing integral color and tangy taste. A couple of weeks later, when I returned for more, there were none to be seen. I expressed my dismay to the queen of apples. She asked how many I wanted, then filled a bag from under the table. Black-market apples! “Next year I’m planting more of these,” she said with a sly smile.
The results: My intention was to turn these apples into a tart; lacking the time, I made applesauce instead. I first quartered the apples, cutting away any wormholes (and setting a tiny critter free), then placed them in a pot with just enough water to cover the bottom. Once the water came to a boil, I turned the heat down to a simmer, covered the pot, and let the apples steam until tender enough to mash.
Once cool, I ran the cooked apples through a food mill, then added a large spoonful of echinacea honey — another enchanting market find. When it was all done, I looked for the prettiest glass I could find. Behold: Pink Martini Applesauce!
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