Applesauce

Delicious homemade applesauce recipe! There is nothing better than homemade applesauce with hand-picked apples, and it is so easy to do!

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Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Nothing beats the taste of homemade applesauce, and it’s so easy to make! Every year, starting in mid summer with the Gravensteins, and through late fall with Granny Smiths and Fuji apples, my father processes dozens of batches of applesauce from apples picked from his trees. He freezes them in large quart-sized mason jars for us to enjoy all year long.

The secret to my dad’s applesauce is that he adds a couple strips of lemon peel to the apples while they are cooking, as well as some lemon juice or apple cider vinegar.

The tartness of the lemon or vinegar serves to intensify the taste of the apples, and helps balance out the sweetness of the sauce. The result is a refreshing, utterly delicious applesauce.

Applesauce

He also likes to mix other fruit in with the sauce. He’ll mix fresh cranberries in with the apples for cranberry applesauce, or stalks of rhubarb for rhubarb applesauce. Plums and pluots sometimes find their way into his applesauce too.

Recipes and photos updated, first published 2014.

Applesauce Recipe

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  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: Makes about 1 1/2 to 2 quarts

Apples vary in their sweetness level, depending on the variety and how late in the season they are picked. The amount of sugar you will want to add will depend on how sweet your apples are, and how sweet you would like your applesauce to be. This recipe is just a guideline, please adjust the sugar amounts to your taste. You can even leave the sugar out all together if you are using sweet apples.

If you use less sugar than this recipe suggest, you will likely want to reduce the amount of lemon juice as well. The lemon juice brightens the flavor of the apples and balances the sweetness.

In place of the ground cinnamon you can cook the apples with a stick of cinnamon, just remove it before puréeing.

Ingredients

  • 3 to 4 lbs of apples (about 7 to 10 apples, depending on the size), peeled, cored, and quartered* (use apples varieties that are good for cooking such as Granny Smith, Pippin, Gravenstein, Mcintosh, Fugi, Jonathan, Jonagold, or Golden Delicious)
  • 2 strips of lemon peel (use a vegetable peeler to strip 4 lengths, zest only, not the pith)
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice or apple cider vinegar (more or less to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Up to 1/2 cup of white sugar (can half of the white sugar with brown sugar)
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt

*To prep the apples, use a sharp vegetable peeler or paring knife and cut away the outer peel. Then quarter the apple and use a paring knife to cut out the tough core parts from the quarters. Or use an apple peeler corer.

Method

1 Boil peeled, cored, quartered apples with lemon, cinnamon, sugar, salt in 1 cup water: Place the peeled, cored, and quartered apples into a large pot. Add the strips of lemon peel, the lemon juice or vinegar, cinnamon, sugar, water and salt. (You might want to start with half the sugar at this point and add more to taste later.)

Bring to a boil on high heat, then lower the temperature, cover the pot, and maintain a low simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the apples are completely tender and cooked through.

2 Remove lemon peels, mash the cooked apples: Once the apples are cooked through, remove the pot from the heat. Remove the lemon peels.

Use a potato masher to mash the cooked apples in the pot to make a chunky applesauce. For a smoother applesauce you can either run the cooked apples through a food mill, or purée them using a stick blender or a standing blender. (If you use a standing blender, do small batches and do not fill the blender bowl more than halfway.)

If the applesauce is too thick, add more water to thin it out.

If not sweet enough, add more sugar to taste. If too sweet, add more lemon juice.

This applesauce is delicious either hot or chilled. It pairs well with pork chops for savory dishes, it's terrific with cottage cheese as a snack or light lunch, and it's great with vanilla ice cream or yogurt.

Freezes well and will last at least a year in a cold freezer. If you freeze it, make sure to allow enough headroom in your jar for expansion. At least an inch.

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Roasted apple applesauce from Evie Lieb

Applesauce

Showing 4 of 143 Comments

  • Myrla Dawal

    Thanks for this recipe. My first time to make apple sauce and I love it. My children enjoy it too. I want to can them instead of freezing. Would it be okay or do I need to make some adjustment with the water maybe? Thanks

  • Elizabeth

    This was the best applesauce I’ve ever made. My kids ate it and they are super picky, even about something as simple as homemade applesauce. I used 10 macs, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp salt, 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, close to 1/2 cup white sugar and a little brown sugar I had left, 1 cup water. Boiled & let simmer until smooth. Amazingly delicious! ( I think it was the cider vinegar, new to me)

  • Laurie Borders

    I used 10 apples and 1 cup water as recommended along with the remaining ingredients and it came out like soup. Couldn’t find the recipe I’ve used for 50 years and was very disappointed in the outcome of this recipe. Will keep looking for my old tried and true cookbook

  • Katie C

    I find that if I combine the right apples, I don’t need to add any sugar. I cook mine in the slow cooker and then purée in the blender. Freezing or canning, I do both.

  • John Meyer

    I make applesauce every week. Here are suggestions based on trying lots of things:

    1. Use a pressure cooker. This is a game-changer. Just dump the ingredients into the cooker, seal, bring all the way up to 15 psi and wait until it is hissing or sputtering full force. Then turn off the heat and wait 25 minutes. You apples, and skins, will be nicely broken down. You get a lot more out of the skins this way.

    2. ALWAYS use a food mill. A food processor creates a lousy texture, and merely mashing them leaves a lot of lumps and peels. A food mill creates a perfect result.

    3. Add the lemon zest before the cooking, as per the recipe, but add the lemon juice AFTER the apples are cooked, just before you put them through the mill. You get a brighter taste that way.

    4. Use 1/4 cup sugar instead of 1/2, unless you have a sweet tooth.

    5. When cooking, use a cinnamon stick instead of powdered cinnamon. You get a more subtle flavor. Then, if you want more cinnamon taste, sprinkle a little high-quality cinnamon (like Penzy Vietnamese cinnamon) on top of the applesauce just before you eat it.

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