Apples Are The Unexpected Ingredient You Should Add To Mashed Potatoes

Comfort foods boost our spirits, evoke childhood memories, and give us that cozy, "there's no place like home" feeling. It's hard to find a more beloved comfort food than mashed potatoes. Taking a bite of warm, buttery, fluffy mash provides a delicious reassurance that everybody craves. For an unexpected and unique upgrade, try adding apples to your next batch. Incorporating the crispy fall fruit in this way isn't a new idea — it's actually a centuries-old recipe that evokes cultural tradition, comfort, and nostalgia for many Germans.

The apples add a sweet and slightly tart flavor to the savory mash, giving it dimension and texture. There are a number of ways to make mashed apples and potatoes, depending on your preferences. For sweet versions, you can add sugar and use sweeter varieties like Red or Golden Delicious and Honeycrisp. Tart or savory versions, meanwhile, call for ingredients like lemon juice and Granny Smith apples.

Origins of this tasty, traditional dish

Potatoes with mashed apples is a popular German dish called Himmel und Erde, or "heaven and earth." The apples represent heaven or the sky, while the potatoes come from the earth (erdapfel is an old German word for potatoes, translating literally to "earthapple" in English). The traditional dish originates from the Rhineland and Westphalia regions of Germany, dating back to the 18th century. It's said to have begun as a simple peasant dish, a way to use available and affordable crops to create a hearty and easy-to-make meal. However, it caught on among other social classes and continues to be familiar and adored throughout Germany.

While apples and potatoes form the foundation of this delicious side dish, the additional ingredients vary depending on the region the recipe hails from. Therefore, making your own Himmel und Erde gives you the ability to pick and choose your preferred add-ins.

Basic ingredients and how the dish served

To create a version of Himmel und Erde, you'll need apples, potatoes, onions, butter, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. The apples are boiled with the potatoes, combined with the butter and seasonings, and mashed until smooth or chunky, whichever you prefer (although, this dish is traditionally meant to have a more chunky texture). The final step is to top it with onions that have been caramelized in butter or oil until crispy. Germans commonly serve Himmel und Erde with blood sausage or bratwurst, both of which pair perfectly with the sweet and savory flavor of the mash. To bring out more of the sweetness, try adding white or brown sugar.

There are other ways of using apples to upgrade your mashed potatoes. For instance, celery root has an earthy, sweet flavor that pairs well with apples and potatoes. These three ingredients can be boiled together, mashed, and combined with butter and/or sour cream to create a creamy, sweet, and savory mash. Also, if you like a buttery, oniony flavor, try adding caramelized garlic cloves. In addition to sausage, this dish goes well with a variety of meats and fish like salmon, pork chops, ham, roast beef, and turkey. Why not give it a try for your next Thanksgiving feast and see if anyone can identify the secret ingredient?