Open a can of applesauce, and what do you find? Some kind of white, tasteless mush that is passed off as applesauce. Blech! On the other hand, think of the insides of an apple pie. Soft, juicy apple slices, sweetened just right with sugar, and spiced with cinnamon. It looks like apples. It smells like apples. And it tastes heavenly. That is the difference between store-bought applesauce and home-made applesauce. Yes, there is work involved in that you have to peel and core the apples. But boy, is it ever worth it! You will find reasons to eat applesauce that you never thought of before, just because it is so good. Applesauce with vanilla yogurt or cottage cheese for breakfast. A bowl of applesauce for a snack any time of the day. Warmed applesauce on top of cake or ice cream (or cake AND ice cream). Or paired with vanilla custard or pudding for a satisfying dessert. Once you see how good your own home-made applesauce is, (and how easy it is to make), you will never buy that awful tasteless commercial stuff ever again! Years ago when my kids were babies, I made much of their baby food, and I always made their own applesauce, but without the sugar and cinnamon. Just apples. They loved it, and I was happy because I knew exactly what was going into their little mouths.
For this batch, I had apples already peeled and sliced in the freezer. I do that in 6 cup packages so that I always have just the right amount for if I want to make an apple pie or apple crisp. It just saved me a step.
To start with fresh apples, you would start with 6 or 7 nice cooking apples (I like MacIntosh the best because they soften nicely when baked, but you can use any apple that is good for baking). Peel, core and slice so that you have approx. 6 cups or so of apple slices. Put them into a large pot along with about 1/2 cup water. (Notice that I didn’t need any water with the frozen apples, because as I heated them slowly, their juices started coming out. So if you want to use frozen apples, you probably won’t have to add any add water.)
I wanted to make a low-cal applesauce, so I used Splenda. If you use Splenda Brown, start with 2 Tbsp, which is the equivalent of 1/4 cup brown sugar. If you use real brown sugar, use about 1/4 cup. Apples vary in their sweetness, depending on the type of apple and how late in the season they are picked. The amount of sugar you will want to add depends on how sweet your apples are, and how sweet you would like your applesauce to be. You can even leave the sugar out all together if you are using very sweet apples.
Add 1 tablespoon of cinnamon (or you could use 1 large cinnamon stick, broken up, if you would rather have a more subtle cinnamon taste). Put the lid on the pot, turn down to simmer, and cook for about 20 to 30 minutes, or until the apples are soft and cooked through.
Once cooked, taste your applesauce, and see if it needs more sugar. As a guideline, I find that another 2 Tbsp to 1/4 cup of sugar is usually all it needs. Again, I used Splenda, but white this time instead of brown.
You may even want to add some lemon juice, if your apples don’t have that nice acidity that apples should have. Start with 1 tablespoon, stir and taste, and add another tablespoon if needed. The lemon juice brightens the flavor of the apples and balances the sweetness. One of the reasons I like to use MacIntosh apples is that they have that perfect balance of acidity and sweetness, and need only a little sugar, and no lemon juice. But, again, adjust as needed to get a nice taste, depending on the variety of apples you are using.
Once you have the taste to where you are happy with it, it’s time to deal with the texture. If it’s too watery, you can either try to carefully pour some of the water off, or you can cook it a bit longer with the lid off to evaporate the extra water. Then, use a potato masher to mash the cooked apples in the pot to make a chunky applesauce. For a smoother applesauce you can purée them in a blender or food processor. (If you use a blender, use the pulse button and try to leave a few larger pieces; do small batches and do not fill the blender bowl more than halfway.) I find that I like the sauce a lot better if there are some larger chunks in it so I know what I am eating. If you are doing this for babies though, you WILL want to get it as smooth as possible.
And that’s it! Serve hot or cold. By itself or with other foods as I mentioned at the beginning of this article. Store in a covered container in the fridge for up to a week. Or if you are keeping it longer, freeze in portion-sized airtight containers for up to one year.
Easy to make, and so much better than store-bought.
- 6 cups peeled, cored apple slices (about 6 apples)
- ½ cup water
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp cinnamon
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1 – 2 Tbsp lemon juice (optional)
- Peel and core apples. Slice or chop to make approx 6 cups.
- Add apple slices to large pot along with the ½ cup water, the ¼ cup brown sugar and the 1 Tbsp cinnamon. Bring to a boil on medium heat, stirring often. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer, cover, and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, or until apples are soft and cooked through.
- Remove from heat and mash with potato masher, or puree in food processor or blender, depending on the consistency you want. I like to leave the slices whole.
Always taste your apples before cooking them to get an idea of how sweet they are, and how tart they are, so you know if it will need extra sugar, or lemon juice at the end of cooking. If they are very ripe and sweet, you may want to include a couple of slices of lemon rind with the apples when you cook them, to brighten up the flavour. (remove peel before mashing cooked apples). However, if you use local apples that are very tart, or MacIntosh that are usually just right, you won't need lemon juice or rind. Don't add it if you don't need it. That's why I love to use Macs. A small bit of sugar and some cinnamon is all they need.