I have oodles of apples. After a weekend visit to a local apple orchard, and a friend sharing her own farm-fresh bounty, I’m in cooking and baking mode. One of my favorite apple treats to make is applesauce.
It doesn’t sound as fancy as making a homemade pie or apple crisp, but it’s so good for how easy it is to prepare. Plus, it’s the perfect beginner recipe for those of you who are terrified of the kitchen—or want to make a simple recipe with the kids. They can help sort, wash, dry, and stir the apples.
This homemade applesauce recipe makes 9 cups, or 18 half-cup servings. Here’s what you’ll need:
- 14 cups apples, cored and chopped (about 20 apples, depending on size).
- 2 cups cold water (plus extra for soaking).
- 1/2 lemon, cut into wedges.
- 3/4 cup honey.
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon.
- 1/8 teaspoon salt.
- White vinegar.
Sort the apples and remove any that are soggy or heavily bruised. Wash the remaining apples in the sink with a splash of white vinegar, which is a natural disinfectant. Use a vegetable brush to give the apples a light scrub, or just use your fingers.
Core and chop the apples. I leave the skins on them to give the applesauce some color and extra nutrients (it’s senseless to throw it away if it’s edible). Place your chopped apples into a bowl of cold water as you cut, and squeeze the juice from half a lemon over the apples to keep them from browning.
Strain the bowl of apple pieces and place them in a large soup pot on the stove. Add 2 cups of cold water, turn the heat to medium, and cover the apples. Let them simmer for 40 minutes, stirring the pot occasionally as the apples soften and cook down.
Add the ground cinnamon, salt, and honey to the apples. I like to use locally raised honey from our farmers’ market. Stir the mixture using a wooden spoon to help break up the newly softened apples.
Use an immersion blender to purée the applesauce. I leave it extra chunky; it reminds me of apple pie filling. Or, blend the sauce until it’s perfectly smooth. Now, let it cook down on low heat for 5 more minutes.
Package the applesauce. I divided mine into freezer-safe containers and let them cool on the countertop before placing them in the freezer. If you plan on canning the applesauce, however, you don’t need to let it cool.
I’ve made and frozen this recipe several times during the fall, so I have plenty of homemade applesauce to serve at Thanksgiving and Christmas—and some leftover to gift! I prefer to freeze my applesauce, but you can also look into canning applesauce if you have more cupboard space than freezer room.
Canning applesauce requires boiling and sterilizing the canning jars, filling them with the applesauce, adding the lid, then submerging them in a boiling water bath for a vacuum seal. This makes the contents last for several months without the need for a refrigerator or freezer, and it’s a great option if you plan to give the applesauce as gifts.
Are you cooking and baking with apples this fall, too? Tell me in the comments below what you’ve been making in your kitchen!
Image source: Angela Tague
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