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How to Make Applesauce at Home
You can try Musselman’s, Mott’s, or any of the other M’s on grocery store shelves, but once you’ve had homemade applesauce, there’s no going back. No packaged kind can ever be as wonderful as a warm batch fresh off the stove.
That’s why we’re covering how to make applesauce at home this week! We’ve already talked about how to make apple crisp, apple dumpling cobbler, and apple cider for National Apple Month. Now we’re on to one of the best apple products of all: applesauce!
Homemade applesauce is fairly easy to make, and as long as you have the apples, you can make plenty to enjoy for months to come. And this time of year, many of us have more apples than we know what to do with!
What Apples Should You Use?
You can try any kind of apple you’d like in applesauce. A sweeter, baking-type apple is usually your best bet, but you can play around with any variety and see what you like. You may even want to try a mix of several different apples to craft the perfect applesauce cocktail. One blog has an apple guide with what many like to use to get you started.
Unlike apple cider, you can use the dropped apples scattered around your backyard to make applesauce. Just wash them really well. And common sense applies… if it looks gross for some reason, don’t use it.
Spicing Things Up
Using either of the following methods, you should first try making your applesauce plain and see how you like it. Notice how the flavor comes out. Once you’ve finished the applesauce and taste test it, you can add some sugar (white or brown) and/or cinnamon to taste.
Want to get a little crazy? Try adding some unusual items, like curry, nutmeg, allspice, even pepper, really whatever you feel like! Add some to a little bowl or spoonful at a time, rather than your whole batch. You don’t want to spoil all your hard work if you don’t like the flavor combination.
Once you’ve made it a few times (or if you know you like a particular flavor) you can add spices and other additives right into the sauce while it’s cooking. Many like to cook their applesauce with a cinnamon stick, for example.
For Chunky Applesauce
This is the traditional way of making applesauce for our family, and how my grandparents made applesauce for years. It requires a little more effort, but produces the delicious, chunky applesauce you know and love.
After you’ve washed your apples, get settled into a comfortable spot. Begin peeling, coring, and chopping up your apples into 1/2 inch chunks. Once you have a pot full of them, add water (when in doubt, use extra), cover it, and get it cooking on the stove. You’ll need to stir it often, so don’t go too far away!
Depending on the size of your batch and the type of apple used, it can take anywhere from a half-hour to two or three hours for the apples to reach a soft, mashable consistency. Don’t rush it – as long as the sauce isn’t burning, it can cook as long as it needs to. Add more water along the way if you’re worried.
On the flip side, if the apples are soft but the consistency seems too watery, you can take the cover off and let the steam out. Just make sure to keep stirring so it doesn’t burn.
Once the apples are soft and mushy, you can take a potato masher and go to town on it. Once finished, you should have a nice batch of warm, chunky applesauce!
For Smooth Applesauce (and less time)
Technically, for smoother applesauce, you can go through all the steps described above and run it through a fine-mesh food grinder or an immersion blender when you’re done.
But if you have a KitchenAid mixer, you can cut that time in half!
You’ll need the food grinder attachment, and while it’s an investment, it’s well worth it if you have a lot of apples.
Rather than peeling and coring ahead of time (which can take hours… believe me) you can just wash the apples, cut out any rotten parts, and quarter them. Put them in a pot with some water, and let them cook until they’re nice and soft, as described for chunky applesauce. Don’t forget to stir, though… you don’t want them burning!
Once they’re ready, all you have to do is put your grinder attachment on the mixer, and grab two bowls. Begin slowly pouring the cooked apples in. The attachment will grind the apples and run them through a strainer that lets all the smooth applesauce out through little holes, which drains into your first bowl. The peels and cores run through the rest of the grinder and come out the other end. This is where your other bowl comes in, along with (preferably) someone to hold it. The peel-and-core mixture that comes out that side is a little… gross-looking. Fair warning! But it saves a LOT of time and energy making it with the KitchenAid, so it’s worth a little ickiness.
Once you have your finished bowl of applesauce, you can cover it and put it right in the refrigerator, and toss or compost the peels/cores.
Once you’ve made a big batch of applesauce, you’ll probably want to save some for later!
First, you’ll need a few freezer-safe plastic dishes or bags. If you don’t want to buy more, you can do what my grandparents have done for years and save every food-safe plastic container that enters your home (Hillshire Farms plastics and those black takeout containers with the clear tops have always worked, although I can’t speak for their overall safety or quality).
Whatever container you choose to use, wash them thoroughly, then spoon the applesauce into them. Don’t forget to date the top – either write on the lid or use one of those handy dandy labels that wash off in the dishwasher.
Put them right in the freezer, and enjoy for months to come!
I hope you’ve had fun making applesauce in the comfort of your own home!
Now that we’re in week 4, there’s only one week left of National Apple Month…. Stay tuned for the apple finale!