How to Make Applesauce

My Garden Life
September 15, 2021
Weight management plans and healthy eating too often mean giving up favorite comfort foods. While you may need to put aside mashed potatoes slathered in gravy, one comfort food that can play a central role in an improved diet is homemade applesauce. This slightly sweet treat is an excellent side dish with pork, chicken, turkey or game fowl. It also serves nicely as a nonfat dessert or snack. And with only a few ingredients, applesauce is a fine example of “clean” food.

The Best Apples for Making Applesauce

Successful applesauce begins by choosing the right mix of apples. Mixing sweet and tart apple varieties adds flavor complexity to homemade applesauce that commercially produced sauces can’t match. The following apple varieties are some of the best to use for cooking, baking or making applesauce:
 
close up of 'Empire' apples close up of 'Fuji' apples close up of 'Gala' apples
Variety: Empire
Flavor: Sweet
Variety: Fuji
Flavor: Sweet
Variety: Gala
Flavor: Sweet
basket of honeycrisp apples pile of fresh 'Golden Delicious' apples close up of 'Ginger Gold' apples
Variety: Honeycrisp
Flavor: Sweet
Variety: Golden Delicious
Flavor: Sweet
Variety: Ginger Gold
Flavor: Sweet
pail of fresh 'Braeburn' apples basket of fresh 'McIntosh' apples basket of fresh 'Jonagold' apples
Variety: Braeburn
Flavor: Sweet-tart
Variety: McIntosh
Flavor: Sweet-tart
Variety: Jonagold
Flavor: Sweet-tart
ripe 'Jonathan' apples hanging in the tree two ripe 'Pink Lady' apples hanging from a tree branch close up of fresh 'Cortland' apples
Variety: Jonathon
Flavor: Sweet-tart
Variety: Pink Lady
Flavor: Sweet-tart
Variety: Cortland
Flavor: Tart
close up of fresh 'Granny Smith' apples close up of 'Lodi' apple hanging from a tree branch basket filled with fresh harvest of 'Yellow Newtown' apples
Variety: Granny Smith
Flavor: Tart
Variety: Lodi
Flavor: Tart
Variety: Yellow Newtown
Flavor: Tart

Selecting Apples for Applesauce

It takes roughly three pounds of apples to make four cups of sauce. Choose apples that are ripe and juicy; avoid soft fruit or fruit that has been in storage for any length of time. In many parts of the country, apple picking season begins in August; a good farm store or market should have freshly harvested fruit available then.

Basic Recipe for Applesauce

bowl of homemade applesauce surrounded by fresh apples and cinnamon sticks

Yield: 4 cups

Ingredients

3 pounds apples
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1/4 tsp stevia or heat-stable sweetener
Pinch kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, nutmeg or ginger, if desired

Directions

woman wearing an apron peeling an apple with a paring knife

1. Prepare the apples by peeling with a good, sharp peeler and coring (there is a handy and inexpensive kitchen gadget that does both tasks at the same time that is well worth the purchase price).
bowl of sliced apples tossed with lemon juice and sugar in preparation to make applesauce

2. Next, cut each apple into eight slices, and place the slices into a large bowl. Toss them with one tablespoon of lemon juice to keep the slices from discoloring, and sprinkle with a small pinch of kosher salt. If the applesauce is to be sweetened, sprinkle the slices with sugar, stevia or artificial sweetener. Set the slices aside at room temperature for an hour or so; the salt and sugar draw out the juices. This helps to jump-start the process of turning the apples into sauce.
sliced and seasoned apples simmering in a pan on the stove

3. Dump the apples, juice, sweetener and additional liquid into a saucepan or slow cooker. Add spices if desired. Bring to a simmer on low heat. If preparing on the stovetop, stir gently and cover the saucepan. Stir the sauce regularly with a wooden spoon or wire whisk as it simmers. This keeps it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
composite image showing ways to blend cooked apples for sauce; blender, food processor, potato masher

4. Once the liquid has reduced to half and the apples are very soft, use a blender, food processor or immersion blender to puree the apples. You can also press the apple slices through a food mill or fine-mesh sieve. Continue cooking until the mixture is at the preferred consistency.

Make Applesauce in Your Crock Pot

sliced apples cooked in a crock pot or slow cooker

Applesauce can be made in a slow cooker as well. Prepare the apples as above. Once prepared, dump the apples, liquid, sweetener and spices into the bowl of a slow cooker. Place the lid on the slow cooker, and set to cook for eight hours on low, or four hours on high. Once cooking is complete, puree the apples using an immersion blender or food processor.

How to Make Chunky Applesauce

wooden dish of chunky applesauce with apples and cinnamon sticks in the background

Some people prefer chunky applesauce. To prepare it this way, forego the use of a blender or food processor and mash the apples with a potato masher instead. This creates the bite-sized pieces that are the signature of “family style” applesauce.

How Long Does Homemade Applesauce Keep in the Refrigerator or Freezer?

four jars of homemade applesauce on a white tea towel

Applesauce is so flexible that experimenting with textures and flavoring ingredients can be fun. Any leftover sauce can be refrigerated for five days, or frozen for up to three months.
Did you know that apple trees are not native to North America? Learn more about the origins of this popular fruit, as well as other favorite fruits and vegetables that travelled here with settlers.
old apple tree on a farm near an old barn

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