Category Archives: Sauces

Apple Must

Apple must reductionWhen you have hundreds of pounds of something you start thinking deeply on how you can preserve and consume the bounty.  This time of year apples are the subject of those deep thoughts.  Of course cider is the supreme way to preserve and consume apples, but I’ve been experimenting with some other techniques that involve cooking and reducing the fresh apple juice.

I got the idea from the cuisine of Modena.  Obviously they have an abundance of grapes, and obviously the majority of those grapes end up as wine or liquor, but they also have a few preparations made by cooking and reducing fresh grape juice.  The most famous is traditional balsamic vinegar, but there is also a little-known preparation called saba.  It is a simple grape must reduction, once commonly used as a sweetener.

Above, at left, is an apple must reduction.  It started as 16 L of fresh apple juice, pressed from Edmonton apples.  Before fermentation could start I brought the juice to a simmer using my turkey-fryer.  I maintained the gentle boil for about 12 hours, after which I had less than 4 L of liquid remaining.

The must is a beautiful, dark red-brown colour, like dried dates.  It is tart, and somewhat sweet, maybe a touch sweeter than grape juice.  It is slightly syrupy on the tongue, and it has a remarkably concentrated aroma that reminds me of dried fruit like prunes.

So what do you do with this stuff?  If you whisk it with a touch of vinegar or mustard and shallot it makes a great dressing.  Diluted with a bit of cold water it also makes a delicious drink.  But I think its supreme use is in making reduction sauces for meat and vegetables.  To make the dish pictured below I pan-roasted pork tenderloin, then deglazed the pan with apple must, reducing it to make a sweet-and-sour sauce that also played will with the roasted root vegetables.

Roast pork, root vegetables, and an apple must pan sauce.


As a side note, I’ve also used this apple must to make a superlative vinegar.  You may have even tasted some of this vinegar if you’ve eaten at RGE RD; they’ve purchased a few bottles from me over the past year or so.

I don’t see myself making gallons and gallons of apple must reduction every year, as it is extremely energy intensive, but it’s one more interesting way that apples could feature in our regional cuisine.



There are many compelling reasons to never buy salad dressings from the grocery store:

  • You almost certainly already have the ingredients in your pantry to make a good dressing.
  • A good dressing can be made in less than 90 seconds.  Actually you can make enough dressing for a few weeks in 90 seconds.
  • There are weird things in store-bought dressings, like calcium disodium EDTA and acetylated monoglycerides.  They also usually contain a good deal of sugar or glucose-fructose; not necessarily a bad thing, but a fact of which many people are unaware.

Invest is some quality oil and vinegar, then never buy a Kraft dressing again.

Whisking together a vinaigrette for slaw.

The simplest dressing to make at home is vinaigrette, which is a French diminutive meaning “little vinegar.”  There are two common ratios used by chefs for composing a vinaigrette: 3:1 oil to vinegar, and 2:1 oil to vinegar.  The exact proportions can be tailored to the particular application.  For my money, 3:1 is best for greens, 2:1 for slaw, potato salad, and other preparations using robust ingredients.  Any tart liquid can stand in for vinegar.  Sour fruit juices like raspberry or rhubarb, for instance.

Oil gives the impression of moisture on the tongue.  It is also a conveyance for the vinegar and other flavours you add.  If you plan on using a strongly-flavoured oil, like cold-pressed canola oil, or olive oil, it should probably be cut with a more neutral oil.

If the oil is slowly added to the vinegar while whisking, a temporary emulsion will form.  Some ingredients will stabilize and prolong the emulsion.  Mustard, for instance.

Vinaigrettes are emphatically not just for green salads: they are extremely versatile and go well with steak, fish, sautéed veggies, slaw, and starchy side dishes like macaroni salad.

Below are some simple vinaigrettes that I use at home.


Honey Mustard Dressing
my default slaw dressing

This is a punchy, acidic dressing that I use on coleslaw and potato salad.  It’s a bit thick and tart to be used on delicate greens, though it could certainly be thinned out for that purpose.

Master Ratio – 1:1:4:8, honey, mustard, cider vinegar, canola oil


  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup canola oil (I like to use half conventional canola oil, and half cold-pressed canola oil)
  • optional but recommended: 1 tsp caraway seeds, 1 tsp mustard seeds, and 1/2 tsp celery seed


  1. If using the spices, toast the seeds in a very hot, dry, heavy pan until they are aromatic and starting to crackle, then immediately stir them into the oil.  They should sizzle on contact with the oil.
  2. Whisk the honey, mustard, vinegar, and salt together in a bowl.
  3. Slowly add the oil while whisking.
  4. This dressing can be used immediately, or stored in a jar in the fridge for several weeks.


Pumpkin Seed Oil Dressing

This is an extremely refined dressing for showcasing the flavour of very fine oil.  I learned it in Austria, where they have amazing pumpkin seed oil.  Water is flavoured with cider vinegar and a bit of salt.  The greens are dressed with the water, then shaken to remove most of the liquid.  The salad is plated, then the oil is drizzled over top.  Instead of an oil-vinegar emulsion coating the leaves of the salad you get the refreshing sensation of the water beading on the leaves.

Put differently, a classic French vinaigrette gives you the texture of the oil and the flavour of the vinegar, while this Austrian variation lets you have the flavour of a fine oil with the refreshing mouthfeel of the water and vinegar.

Master Ratio – 3:1:1, water, vinegar, oil


  • 3 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 tbsp Styrian pumpkinseed oil


  1. Combine the water, vinegar, and salt in a bowl and stir until the salt has dissolved.  Toss the greens in the dressing, gently shaking them as you remove them from the bowl.
  2. Plate the salad, then drizzle the oil over top so that each mouthful will have some of the oil.

I serve this dressing on whatever greens are available, usually with a pinch of minced raw onion and other pungent veggies like radish or kohlrabi.