A large box, overfilling with sweet, crisp apples, sat in my kitchen for the better part of this month. The first round was picked by Scott and I some time in late September. The second (much larger) round was dropped off by my parents, who were happy to have gotten so many before the deer did. All of this, from only the two trees on my parents property.
Their rosy red imperfect skins and intoxicating sweet floral smell greeted me each morning. I cut them into bite sized pieces and ate them in my oatmeal with cinnamon and maple syrup. Mid-afternoon snacks turned into slices with a smear of peanut butter or a chunk of cheese. I made this Dutch Appletaart again. I put them in salads. I chopped some up and lightly caramelized them to top off a stack of pancakes. But there were just too many to consume. I have no place to properly store this many apples before they start softening and eventually rotting. My solution, homemade applesauce.
Applesauce is nothing new, but it is really easy to make. It does take some time to peel the apples, but it passes faster than you think once your thoughts start to drift and you get into a rhythm. All you need, besides some time, is a good amount of apples, some liquid, a touch of lemon juice and a large pot to cook them in. Some people add in sugar, but choosing a great sweet apple should leave you with enough natural sweetness to not need any extra at all. Another option is to add in a cinnamon stick or two. I like to add a dash of cinnamon in when I eat it, but adding a stick of cinnamon as everything cooks down, infuses it with a cinnamon flavor more so than a strong cinnamon taste.
Another thing about applesauce that many may dispute is the texture. I love it smooth with absolutely no chucks of apple in my sauce. This may be because I disliked cooked chunks of apple (as in apple pie) when I was little. Maybe it’s because I grew up eating it smooth and it’s sort of a comfort thing now. Either way it’s your call on how much you decide to puree it because in the end it all tastes the same.
Homemade Unsweetened Applesauce / makes about 6 pints or 3 quarts
I used what I believe are Jonathan apples, but any good sweet apple, such as Gala or Fuji, will make some lovely applesauce. You can cut the ingredients below in half if you don’t want to make so much. To make more you’ll just need to do it in batches, unless you have several large stockpots. I made this batch about 3 times. I’ve been enjoying it topped with almond ginger granola in the morning and it’s like dessert for breakfast!
4-5 pounds apples, peeled and cored
1 1/2 cups water (optional fresh pressed apple juice instead of water)
juice of half a lemon
Place the prepared apples into a large stockpot (I was able to fit them all into a 6 qt pot). Pour in the water and juice from the lemon. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes. I give the whole batch a good stir after about 20 minutes, so the apples at the top have a chance to soften up as much as the ones on the bottom.
After 30 minutes, the apples should have reduced into the pot by about a third. Let them cool for 5-10 minutes. Depending on how chunky you like your applesauce, you can either just mash everything down with a potato masher or, do as I did, and puree them in batched in your blender to the consistency you want. You could also probably use an immersion blender to do this too.
Pour into clean jars and store in your refrigerator for about a week. You can also can and freeze applesauce very easily to last much longer, just be sure to leave plenty of head room in your jars for expansion.