Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Homemade Applesauce is Easy!

There’s no better comfort food in the world than warm, homemade applesauce. And once you’ve made your own, you’ll never be able to stomach another jar of store-bought applesauce again. I promise. The bonus is that making your own is simple. And the other bonus is that making your own applesauce will please your kids, impress your friends and make you feel as resourceful as Laura Ingalls. Everyone around you will be in awe. And they’ll want a bowl. Wait, and there’s one more bonus – it will save you money because store-bought applesauce is ridiculously overpriced!

We are in the throes of apple season right now. Apples are fresh, cheap, and plentiful. There are so many varieties available it’s overwhelming. I think the best applesauce comes from mixing lots of varieties together, and making applesauce from fresh apples you just picked yourself is pretty stellar too. When my kids were young we went to a pick-your-own farm each year.
Now when I suggest we go apple picking I get blank stares and “Why?” But there is nothing in the world like a fresh apple eaten moments after it is picked. Nothing.
Don’t take my word for it – go find out. With or without your kids.

If you head to a fruit market for your apples, be sure to ask about seconds. When you’re making applesauce, quantity is important and looks aren’t. Seconds are generally half the price of pristine apples and the only thing that makes them “seconds” is that they are misshapen or funny colored or have a bruise. In the seconds room I ask for a mix of apples.
I’ll take just about any kind of apple except Red Delicious. Red Delicious may be yummy eating apples, but they make only mediocre sauce. A mix of varieties makes the taste richer and more complex.

Making applesauce is not a precise science, so don’t get hung up on following a recipe. Personalize your own. Here’s how it works:

1. Core, peel, and slice enough apples to fill a big pot. Periodically, I splash a few squirts of lemon juice on the apples to keep them from turning brown.

2. When the pot is full, fill the bottom quarter of the pot with water (in my big pot that’s 4 cups of water) and put it on the stove. Working on a medium-high setting, bring the apples to a boil, mashing them with a spoon and stirring often. Once the apples are boiling, turn down the heat a little and continue to mash them with a spoon or potato masher.

3. If you want sweeter applesauce, add sugar. How much sugar you add is a completely personal decision. I add about ½ cup for a big pot, but you can add much more or none at all. A fresh mix of apples creates such an amazingly complex and sweet flavor that you don’t need anywhere near the amount of sugar most recipes recommend. So if you’re following a recipe, cut the sugar in half and then taste. You might not need the rest.

4. Continue cooking and mashing occasionally until the mixture looks like applesauce. This can take about 15-20 minutes. There is a point at which the apples become easy to mash and the whole mixture suddenly looks like applesauce.

5. At this point you can move on to canning, freezing, or eating, but if you don’t like chunky applesauce (which is one of the qualities I love about homemade applesauce), you can now put your concoction through a food processor and eliminate all those chunks that make your kids say, “Did you make this?” Although, once your kids have tried real homemade applesauce warm from the pan with a sprinkle of cinnamon they’ll change their tune.

A great way to increase your kids’ enthusiasm for homemade applesauce is to enlist their help in the process. If you own an apple peeler/corer/slicer get your kids in on the action. We have one that attaches to the kitchen counter and it makes quick work of the apples.
Sometimes, even my older kids will come in and want to give the handle a nostalgic turn, but these days I’m on my own for the most part. My youngest still likes to feast on the long, curly apple peels. The horses are happy to eat whatever is left.

Note:  Most peeler/corer/slicers only work on perfectly shaped apples, so if your seconds are particularly assymetrical and/or overly ripe, don’t get too frustrated if the handy contraption doesn’t work. Then you just have to revert to the old fashioned knife to do the job.

We can some of our applesauce and freeze the rest in cleaned yogurt containers. Slightly thawed, frozen applesauce is a wonderful dessert treat. But the best way to eat it is still warm from the pan. I make applesauce in large batches in the fall, but I make smaller ones anytime we have a few apples that are getting long in the tooth or being ignored in the bottom of the fridge. So don’t think you can only make applesauce when you have time for the big production it can become. Grab a little sauce pan and peel, core, and slice 3 or 4 apples. You do the same thing you do for a big batch, just modify your amounts and times. Fresh, warm applesauce makes a yummy side dish anytime.

A jar of homemade applesauce and a basket of apples is a wonderful gift for a teacher, friend, or new neighbor. If you need a refresher on how to can, click here. Now that you know how easy it is, try making some homemade applesauce, not only will it be comfort food for your body, it’s comfort food for the soul.


  1. Wow!!! This cutter is very good but these types of cutters make us lazy.

    Mangosteen Juice

    1. No worries. The peeler/slicer/corer fails on lumpy and mushy apples so there's still plenty to peel by hand!