Applesauce

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

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, Fuji, 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 sub 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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Applesauce

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Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

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152 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  • Gail Coones

    I use those huge zucchini s chopped up too as a stretcher! Zucchini will grab the flavor of the apples, they look and mash the same, of course I’m doing enough to feed an army! But it’s healthy and stretches the batches and is almost free since people give you so many of the large ones! To buy bushels of apples can get pretty expensive! And I have a lot shredded for bread. So it’s one way to use the goodness in with your apples!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Colleen

    Love this recipe!! Do you have to process it any special way in order to freeze it? Similar to canning? I’d love to make big batches in the fall!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Cindy

    It is so easy and very good!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Venus

    I must say it’s been years since I made home style apple sauce. I love it the lemon really makes the flavors. I could also use less sugar. My grand children loved it. Thank you for this recipes.

  • Carly

    I LOVE this recipe. I adapt it slightly by not adding any sugar and therefore halving the salt. I also find I have to cook it slightly longer than the recipe calls for. I just mash with a potato masher and enjoy a couple small chunks. It’s delicious every time.

    xxxxxyyyyy

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