Applesauce. I know. You’re thinking, really?? This is what we’re talking about today?
Usually applesauce is reserved for babies, the tummy-bug BRAT diet, and pork chops. It’s that jar at the back of your fridge that you forget about until there is absolutely nothing left to eat, and then you have a bowl (or the rest of the jar), and wonder why you don’t eat it more often. And then it goes back to the back of your fridge. Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything.
But, I’m telling you. You need to reintroduce applesauce, especially homemade applesauce into your life. It’s a delicious, healthy, easy snack; can be used in cooking and baking; and is a fantastic way to preserve the flavors of fall. And, here’s the secret to making the best applesauce E.V.E.R. – cinnamon. Rocket science, I know. But that’s all I add to my sauce and when I give it as gifts, I consistently hear how it’s the best they’ve ever had.
When I moved to the Hudson Valley, we started going apple picking every weekend. If you’ve never been to a pick-your-own, you should know that you feel compelled to pick as much fruit as possible because it’s inexpensive and it’s there and it’s fun and all the sudden you have 3 gallons of blueberries or 2 bushels of apples. What the heck do you do with all that fruit, besides get fruit flies? Make applesauce, obviously.
In addition to preventing fruit flies, I love canning and freezing seasonal fruits because it allows my family to eat local through the winter. Don’t get me wrong, we buy lots of lemons and limes and bananas and KerryGold butter and shrimp (and more cereal than I’d like to admit for the kiddo), but when you live in a place as bountiful as the Hudson Valley, it feels (and tastes) really good to take advantage of it.
Applesauce is super easy to make, can be made without any added sugar, and is really scalable. You can make enough for dinner or enough for winter. The recipe below includes top level canning instructions. If you’re new to canning, this website, while old school, has been my go-to guide for years. If you don’t want to can it, put it in baggies or jars and freeze it.
Wash, peel, core, and slice your apples. I use this rock star suction cup peeler. You could also use a paring knife to peel the apples…but this is way more fun. Make sure to use that paring knife to get rid skin the peeler leaves on; that won’t be good later #trustme.
As you peel, add either a small amount of lemon juice mixed with water (1 tsp lemon juice, 1 tbsp water) or citric acid to keep the apples from getting brown. I filled a 14 quart pot with raw apples and did this for ever large bowl I added – about 5 times.
Add an inch of water to the bottom of your pot and then add all your apples in. Fill that pot up, they’ll cook down. Cook on medium heat until the apples are mushy – anywhere from 20-60 minutes depending on your volume.
Mash or puree the apples to your preferred applesauce consistency. For my first batch, I used a hand blender (a blender or food processor would work too). For the second, TimTheFarmer mentioned he preferred the chunky version I make, so I used the potato masher to mash the apples.
Add cinnamon to taste. This is the key to making the best apples sauce ever. Taste the sauce; depending on the apples you use, you may need to sweeten it up if it causes pucker face. I use honey from the same place we get the apples, but any honey or other sweetener will do. Just as an FYI, if you pick the right apples you won’t need to sweeten. I’ve only added sweetness once in 4 years of making the sauce.
To can, prepare your jars and water bath. Fill up the hot jars with applesauce and leave 1/4 inch of head space. Clean off the rim and cover and seal wth your hot lids and rings. Process jars for 20-30 minutes. Enjoy all winter long.
- Fresh lemon juice or citric acid (1 tsp per 5 cups of sliced apples)
- Wash, peel, core, and slice apples
- Toss apples with lemon juice or citric acid.
- Fill pot with one inch of water and add apples. Cook on medium heat until softened, 20-60 minutes depending on volume.
- Puree or mash apples to desired consistency.
- Add cinnamon to taste.
- Adjust sweetness if necessary.
- Process jars for 20-30 minutes or refrigerate.