This I Believe

Leah - Goshen, Indiana
Entered on November 4, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: family, work

This I believe…

I believe in family traditions. I believe in early rising and in shared labor. I believe in simplicity.

I believe in making applesauce. At my house, making applesauce is an annual event. Every fall, when the leaves are turning color and the wind starts to chill, my Grandma Mattie comes to our house from Holmes County Ohio with a weekend suitcase, three large buckets, a wooden spoon with an extra long handle, a Victorian applesauce crank, four bushels of apples, and a five-pound bag of sugar.

Mattie, now 88 years-old, grew up Amish. Like many Amish women, Mattie has only an eighth grade education, she’s never worn pants in her life, and she raised eight children with the help of a large strawberry patch, flannel blankets, and a whole lot of prayer.

Because Mattie had such a large family, she makes everything in bulk. So when Grandma makes applesauce with us, we make a lot of it – about 100 quarts.

Making such a large amount of applesauce in one day requires an early start and persistent labor – two things Mattie does well. Though the recipe for applesauce is simple (Mattie’s recipe includes a combination of Grimes and Courtland apples plus a lot of sugar), there are many steps to the process.

Making applesauce with Grandma Mattie begins at 5:30 in the morning. The first step is to cut all four bushels of apples into quarters. The remaining steps are then staggered to increase productivity. They include boiling the quartered apples in large pots on the stove, cranking the softened apples through the Victorian press, sugaring the buckets of warm applesauce, filling and sealing quart glass jars and, finally, lining the basement with enough sealed jars of applesauce to last our family until next autumn.

Over the course of the next year, Mattie’s applesauce will be enjoyed by many people who come to our house for a meal. At our house, we eat and serve applesauce with everything from pizza and macaroni-and-cheese to pot-roast and stir-fries. And our dinner guests (especially young children) soon learn to love Mattie’s applesauce.

Grandma claims the secret to good applesauce is sugar. But I think it may be something else. I think the secret to good applesauce is: starting the process before the sun comes up, using a simple recipe, and doing it year, after year, after year.