There’s nothing like reaching into the pantry and cracking open a jar of homemade applesauce to go with that luscious pork roast you just took out of the oven. I can practically taste it now!
OK, Disclaimer: I’m not trying to make anybody feel bad here. You’re totally not lazy if you don’t do this. But before you say “Make my own applesauce?? That’s waaaayyy too much work”, hear me out. Certainly, you can go crazy and pressure can seventeen quarts of applesauce. (That’s a two-day job). Or you can just do a few jars. (A one-day job). Or…you can make a small batch and eat it for dinner tonight. (A less-than one hour job.) See, there are lots of ways to go here. Something for all of us!
I really think everyone should make applesauce at least once. It’s easy and super-delicious. And grocery store applesauce isn’t even in the same universe as homemade. You can customize your sauce by choosing sweet or tart apples and make it smooth or chunky. The ingredients are just apples and water. What could be more fresh, healthy, or pure?? Some people add sugar or cinnamon, but I rarely do. I want the flavor of the fruit to shine. And you can use organic apples if you want.
Every September my Mom and I drive up to Snowline Orchards in the mountains near Oak Glen, California. It’s a cute place. They sell bushels of fruit, cider, yummy apple cider donuts, and tchotchkes out of their old packing shed. And you can taste whichever apples are currently ripe. Amazingly their apple trees are 118 years old! They grow varieties like Mutsu, Golden Delicious, Fuji, Granny Smith, Pippin and Braeburn.
This year I bought one bushel of apples. That's 48 pounds. Half were Gravensteins (a heritage variety with a sweet/tart/honey flavor) and half were Jonagolds (sweet/tart). I always use two types of apples for my sauce—it adds a wonderful depth of flavor. (And this combination turned out particularly well.). I cooked and pressure canned it all, which yielded about 17 quarts of applesauce. As I mentioned above, this was a two-day deal.
But you may want to start with just 2 or 3 pounds of apples to make around a quart of sauce, which you can refrigerate for about a week (if it lasts that long).
Here’s How to Make the Applesauce
Note: There are two methods: using a food mill/chinois or by peeling the apples. I prefer the food mill because apple skins add flavor and a bit of color to the sauce, and the finished texture is very smooth. Peeling is fine, though. It results in a chunkier sauce (like hand-mashed potatoes), and you'll have a bit smaller yield.
Start by washing the apples.
If you’re using a food mill just roughly chop the apples into 1-inch pieces, stems, cores and all. Otherwise, peel and core the apples, then chop them into 1-inch pieces. In either case, discard any spoiled parts of the fruit.
Put the chopped fruit into a large saucepan over medium low heat and add about 1/3 cup of water. Cover with a lid. As the apples start to simmer, stir often, scraping the bottom of the pan to prevent scorching. The apples will soften and start to break down into sauce as they cook. If needed, you can add a tiny bit of extra water.
For peeled apples: When the sauce reaches the desired chunkiness, remove the pot from the heat and cool. If you want it smoother, keep cooking it until all the chunks have broken down. You can use a potato masher to hasten this process. Taste it, and add sugar or spices if you want. Your sauce is ready to serve, either warm or cold.
If you’re using a food mill or chinois: Cook the apples until the skins are almost transparent and the sauce is the desired thickness. (It’s a Goldilocks moment: you don’t want it too dry, or too runny, but just right.). Remove the pot from the stove to cool.
Assemble your chinois or food mill and set it over a bowl. For the food mill choose a medium-small plate with holes that won’t allow skins or apple seeds to come through. Ladle some cooked apples in and grind until only seeds and skins are left. Repeat until all the apples are milled, periodically cleaning the device as needed.
Add sugar or spices if you must. That’s it, your delicious sauce is ready to eat, either warm or cold. Yum!
-Lots of varieties of apples make outstanding sauce. Softer types tend to cook a bit faster. Just be sure to avoid Red Delicious. Their flavor is too bland to make good sauce.
-You can cover and refrigerate applesauce for up to a week, or ladle it into freezer bags, and freeze up to two months.
-I often use an old chinois I inherited from my grandmother. Unfortunately, this year I broke the handle, so from now on, it’s the food mill!
-My go-to resource for pressure canning is the Ball Canning Book: https://www.amazon.com/All-Ball-Book-Canning-Preserving/dp/0848746783/ref=sr_1_1?crid=4O0CP56MBOGY&keywords=ball+canning+book+2021&qid=1636586480&qsid=141-3195096-4419011&sprefix=ball+canning+book%2Caps%2C235&sr=8-1&sres=0848746783%2C0778801314%2C0972753745%2CB086L53NVN%2CB09GJG6J8Y%2C0848754522%2CB09B1VRZRV%2C1641520906%2CB09KN9YX87%2CB09K1T3S7J%2C0736978941%2C0736948996%2CB09GCSHX2B%2C1939473543%2CB09JJ9BK1T%2C1615649980&srpt=ABIS_BOOK