Homemade applesauce is the perfect dish for the underappreciated cook: it’s a snap to make and is invariably greeted with outsized enthusiasm. It pairs beautifully with ham, pork chops or potato pancakes for dinner; french toast, waffles or oatmeal for breakfast; ice cream or shortbread for dessert. It also makes a wonderfully comforting snack on its own.
Applesauce is also the perfect way to use up old apples rolling around in your fridge. You can make it with any variety of apple, fresh or old, perfect or bruised, one variety or a blend. I like to use sweet apples such as Golden Delicious for applesauce because they require less additional sugar.
The simplest applesauce is merely apples and water, but I like a good bit of brown sugar and load of cinnamon. You can also add any number of flavorings: lemon or orange peel, vanilla bean, nutmeg, cloves, or even a splash of calvados for a more grown-up version.
I can’t eat ham without applesauce, so I made a vat of it to bring to my sister-in-law’s Christmas Eve dinner, where it was a huge hit with kids and adults. I used at least 20 apples for our army-sized family here. But you can use as many or as few apples as you have on hand.
Peel, core and cut apples. You can use larger pieces, such as quarters. I usually do a quick dice so that it cooks faster and is a bit easier to mash. If you use a food mill to puree your applesauce, you can leave the apples unpeeled.
Apples in a pot with a bit of water. Add cinnamon sticks, vanilla bean, orange/lemon peel, whole cloves or cardamom pods if you like. Cover and simmer until apples are soft. Remove flavorings.
Use fork, back of spoon or potato masher to mash apples to desired consistency. Add more water if needed.
Sweeten with white or brown sugar, or even maple syrup, and add ground cinnamon to taste, as well as a pinch of salt.
It’s as easy as that. Take a bow and bask in the acclaim.
Homemade applesauce is amazingly easy and infinitely better than any applesauce you can buy. It pairs beautifully with ham, pork chops or potato pancakes for dinner; french toast, waffles or oatmeal for breakfast; ice cream or shortbread for dessert. It also makes a perfectly comforting snack on its own. This is not so much a recipe as a guideline – water and sugar needs will vary depending on the type and freshness of apples used.
- Apples, any variety, or a mix
- Water (or apple cider)
- Sweetener (brown or white sugar; maple syrup)
- Pinch salt
- Cinnamon (sticks or ground)
- Lemon peel
- Lemon juice
- Orange peel
- Whole cloves
- Cardamom pods
- Vanilla bean
- Ground nutmeg
- Peel, core and cut apples (quartered apples are fine; diced apples cook quicker).
- Place apples in pot with 1/2 cup (for 4-6 apples) to one cup (for 8-12 apples) of water or apple cider. Add cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, cardamom pods, lemon or orange peel if desired.
- Bring to boil, cover and reduce to simmer. Cook, covered, for 15-30 minutes (depending on size of cut and hardness of apples), until apples are very soft. Check occasionally to add water if necessary. Remove flavorings and discard.
- Use back of a large spoon, fork or potato masher to mash apples to desired consistency. Add a bit more water if it seems too thick. You can also use a blender or food mill if you want it smoother (you may have to add a bit more water for blender to work effectively).
- Sweeten and add ground cinnamon to taste, plus a pinch of salt. Optionally add other ground spices, such as nutmeg or cloves.
- Serve hot, warm or cold. Keeps well in refrigerator for a week and freezes very well.
- Any type of apples will work; I prefer to use sweet apples over tart to reduce the amount of sugar needed. Golden delicious are easily available and make good applesauce. A blend of apples is also nice.
- If you are using a food mill, you can leave the apples unpeeled for cooking.
- Pears also make a good addition. Peel, cut and cook along with apples.
Here’s a link to the printable version.