Image for Seconds Count – Using Ugly Produce

Presented by Kirstin Hamaker of Goosefoot Kitchen, Mississippi Market’s exclusive chef partner.

Scabbed, bruised, punctured, gnarled, undersized, crooked. Here’s to imperfections, and unrecognized beauty. Ask your farmer or produce manager for any “seconds”, the ugly and discounted produce that often gets thrown away.

Food waste statistics in our country (and around the world) are distressing. Food gets tossed for many reasons, and we each play a role, whether it’s scrapping leftovers forgotten in the fridge, or easily overlooking bruised or dented fruit. But really, there are simple acts we can do each day to combat this ill, such as using fresh eyes at the market and in our own kitchens, using and respecting what’s there already, however imperfect or seemingly unflattering.

Here’s a perfect, simple, seasonal recipe that captures this idea, and credits resourcefulness.


Serves 4-6

Get the kids involved in making this recipe; depending on their age, they can peel, chop, stir, or even simply choose which spice to add at the end.

Market List

1 lemon
3 pounds of apples
¼ cup sugar (or honey, if you prefer)
¼ cup water
1 pinch of cinnamon, cardamom, allspice, ground clove, and/or nutmeg (optional)


1. Add the juice of 1 lemon (minus seeds) to a medium-sized, sturdy saucepan.

2. Peel, quarter, and core 3 pounds of apples, cutting the quarters in half, and add them to the saucepan, continuously tossing with lemon juice. (The acidity in the lemon juice will preserve your apples’ color. The lemon adds a tart dynamic to the finished sauce.)

3. Add ¼ cup of water and ¼ cup of sugar (or honey, if you prefer) to the apples and stir. Cover your saucepan and pot on a low heat on the stove top. Stir from time to time, adding a little more water if the apples seem dry or are scorching. Check for sweetness as you go, stirring in a bit more sugar (or honey), if you desire.

To Finish

You’ll notice after about 10-15 minutes that as the apples break down, it’ll begin to look like chunky applesauce. If you (or your eaters) prefer more of an apple puree, you can stir enthusiastically with a wooden spoon, or mash enthusiastically with a fork, to further break down the sauce. Once the sauce is the texture and flavor you like, you may choose to stir in a pinch (or two) of spice, such as cinnamon, cardamom, allspice, ground clove, and/or nutmeg.

Notes & Variations

Applesauce freezes well, and I encourage you to make more than you think you’ll need. Freeze in single-serving storage containers, or in Ziploc-style plastic bags, labeled. When ready to use, simply thaw in the fridge overnight.

Applesauce can also be canned. Your homemade canned applesauce can be used as a sweet gift, and is such a treat to discover in the pantry come spring.

You can add a few peeled, cored, and chopped pears or quince to the apples to add a bit more seasonal character.