For me, apples are quintessential fall food. They’re beautiful, they’re delicious, and when it starts getting cold outside, I want apples. Apple pie, apple crisp, apple cider, and mmmm… applesauce!
I’ve never made applesauce before this year, and I always assumed it was some complicated, labor-intensive process. But when I called my mom — a woman who *always* cooks straight from the recipe — for her applesauce recipe and she said, “oh, you just cut up some apples, simmer them on the stove, and throw in some spices,” well, I knew I had to try it. And, dear reader, it really is that simple. Applesauce is now permanently on my list of ways to preserve the local harvest, and I’ll be surprised if I ever buy applesauce from the store again!
Here’s how it you do it.
First, get yourself some delicious local apples. While there are apples that are better for baking, juice, and eating I don’t think it really matters what kind you use for applesauce. I like to use more than one variety for a more complex flavor. The general guide is that three pounds of apples will make one quart of applesauce.
Next, peel, core and cut up all your apples. Peeling isn’t necessary if you don’t mind bits of peel in your sauce. One of these contraptions comes in really handy at this point. It peels, cores, and slices your apples for you! It works best with symmetrical, firm fruit. Unfortunately, the apples I bought were “second rate” so they weren’t getting along very well with the peeling machine.
Once all the apples are peeled, cored, and cut, stick them in a pot on the stove and turn on the heat! You’ll want to stir them often at the beginning to distribute the heat throughout all the apples. Soon they will begin breaking down and getting mushy. This is where the “recipe” gets vague. Basically, your goal is to cook the apples down into mush (applesauce). You may or may not need to add extra liquid (water, apple juice). I only added about a half cup for a six-pound batch. Depending on your taste preferences, you may or may not want to add sugar (white, brown, maple) and spices (cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger). This is really a “taste and see” sort of thing.
Regardless of what additional ingredients you do or do not add, after 10 to 20 minutes of simmering, your apples will start to look like this. Let them simmer until they are mashable. Then mash them until you are happy with the texture. I used an inversion blender for a smoother blend. A food processor also works well, but be cautious of the steam. Your kitchen will be smelling wonderful at this point!
Finally, can it up. Applesauce freezes beautifully. I chose to can mine in a water bath canner: 15 minutes for pints and 20 for quarts at sea level.