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Mentions of the importance of apples are abundant in Washington’s papers. For example, on February 1, 1796, he noted, “For every acre . . . an Apple tree of good grafted fruit is to be planted on the premises.”

The recipe here is adapted by Culinary Historian Nancy Carter Crump from one in Hannah Glasse’s The Art of Cookery. This sauce is delicious with a variety of dishes, but it pairs particularly well with E. Smith’s Roast Pork.


  • 2 1/2 pounds tart cooking apples, such as Granny Smith, or heirloom apples such as Newtown (Albemarle) Pippin, peeled, cored, and cut into thick slices
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
  • Water as needed
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 to 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg


1. Put the apples in a saucepan over low heat. Add the lemon zest and about 1/2 cup of water. Cover and cook the apples, stirring often and adding more water if the fruit seems too dry. Add only enough, however, to prevent the apples from sticking to the pan. Cook for about 20 minutes, until the apples are very soft. Remove from the heat, and mash the apples roughly.

2. Blend in the butter. Add 3/4 cup of the sugar, stirring in more as needed, and then add the nutmeg.

3. Serve the applesauce warm or at room temperature. It can be cooled completely and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Makes 3 to 4 cups