Make Your Own Applesauce

by in Healthy Recipes, September 21, 2009

When I start seeing apple bushels at the market, I know it’s prime time for applesauce. Pass on the jarred stuff and whip up a batch of your own. It’s easy (we promise), and you won’t believe the delicious difference.

First things first, applesauce is a healthy indulgence — it may taste sweet and like a sinful dessert, but a cup only has about 100 calories and lots of vitamin C and fiber.

The Apples
A combo of sweet and tart apples gives the best balance of flavors. Red-skinned apples like McIntosh and Macoun offer a good basic, sweetness (I also like golden delicious). Keep the red skins on; they’re packed with fiber and will give the sauce a rich and rosy hue. Mix in tart varieties like Granny Smith to cut through some of the sweetness. No matter what variety you choose, you should be good on texture; all apples contain high amounts of pectin, a natural thickener that gives applesauce its velvety consistency.

The Spices
Flavor up your applesauce with traditional spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. A bit of lemon or orange zest will also help enhance that apple-y flavor. For additional sweetness, melt in sugar, honey or brown sugar. There are always those wildcard add-ins, too. My mom’s recipe (below) calls for a pat of butter; this secret ingredient makes such a difference!

For a kicked-up version of applesauce, go for a chutney, a sweet-and-spicy condiment that’s made with fruit, vinegar and spices. Try it out on grilled chicken or fish or serve along with cheddar cheese and whole grain crackers.

Getting Saucy
Most applesauce recipes tell you to cook down the apples in a large pot along with some water and apple juice or cider, but your options don’t end there. You can also bake them for a richer flavor.

Once you cook and season your apples as desired, it’s time to turn them into sauce — there’s really no wrong way to go. A food mill is my tool of choice; it will make your applesauce smooth but not pureed and will remove any seeds or bits of skin. For a chunkier and more rustic applesauce, use a whisk or a potato masher.

Ways to Enjoy It
You can make large batches and store some in the freezer for up to six months; just put it into a freezer-safe plastic container or plastic bag. When you’re ready for some, leave it in the refrigerator to defrost overnight. Dish out your applesauce for a low-calorie dessert or serve it with your favorite chicken or pork recipe. You can also use it to add natural sweetness and cut some fat out of muffin and cookie recipes (Tip: replacing half the oil with applesauce usually works).

Lori’s Applesauce
Makes 2 1/2 quarts

12 Granny Smith Apples
12 Macoun or McIntosh Apples
1/2 cup dark brown sugar (more to taste)
1/4 cup honey
1 pat butter (1 teaspoon)
4 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon grated orange peel

Wash apples well and cut them into quarters (do not peel or core). Place apples in a large pot on top of the stove and cover with water by half. Cook uncovered over medium heat for 45 minutes or until apples are soft. Reduce the heat to low and add remaining ingredients; cook for an additional 15 minutes. Let the applesauce cool until lukewarm (it will thicken as it cools). Pass the apple mixture through a food mill with a medium disc. Place applesauce in individual jars and keep refrigerated.

Nutrition Info (per 1/2-cup serving):
Calories: 120 calories
Total Fat: 0.5 grams
Saturated Fat: 0 grams
Total Carbohydrate: 32 grams
Protein: 1 gram
Sodium: 2 milligrams
Cholesterol: 0 milligram
Fiber: 4 grams

TELL US: What’s the secret to your homemade applesauce?

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Comments (18)

  1. Chris says:


    You have me wanting to run right out and buy apples to make applesauce. Do you know anywhere to get local organic apples in the New York (Long Island) area?


  2. danawhite says:

    Hi Chris – This article on shopping the farmers market can help you find local source in your area.

  3. holly papa says:

    hi there
    i also add
    fresh pears
    fresh pineapple
    and AFTERr it is cooked i add
    fresh pomegrante
    its delicious try it!
    let me know what you think

  4. holly papa says:

    you can try agave syrup for sweetner
    lower glycemic index
    wonderful taste
    you can find it at the health food store

  5. ann says:

    What does it mean: "Cover with water by half"? I'm confused! Do I cover the apples with water and then use half as much again? Or do I just cover the apples halfway up with water?

  6. D. Butler says:

    Good suggestions. I'm really into homemade, home grown products & preservation. I prefer canning to freezing most items, however. I do freeze roasted tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, okra, some peppers and all beans & peas, I can applesauce, apple butter, apple jelly and all fruits and vegetables with a high acid content. It's tastier, "greener", since glass jars are completely reuseable and recyclable, and WAY more convenient. For clear instructions on home canning, using a water bath canner or a large enamel pot, go to the National Center for Home Food Preservation @ Good recipes are listed, as well. I'm off to buy another bushel of apples for apple sauce, my two types of apple butter (savory & sweet) and apple jelly! Hurray for gardens, farms & markets! P.S. I often make my applesauce & apple butter by cooking the apples and/or peelings & cores overnight in the slow cooker. Very easy and tasty.

  7. danawhite says:

    Hi Ann-
    You don't want the apples to be submerged – pour in enough water to cover them half way up, like you said.

  8. Rachel says:

    The secret I learned from my grandma is to add red-hot candies (the little heart shaped ones) while the apples are still hot. They melt right in and give a sweet cinnamon flavor (plus a pretty pink color)!

  9. janice says:

    Really? Don't core the apples? What about the seeds?

  10. Alane says:

    When I make applesauce I go to the farmers market and buy an assortment of apples. Then, I core and peel them. I add about 1/2- 1 C of water into a 5-8 qt dutch oven pot and boil until they break down
    Then I use an immersion blender and blend but I like it chunky so I don't do too much. When I let it cool off I put in a cinammon stick and scrape the seeds only from a whole vanilla bean. The flavor is great
    Remember to remove the cinammon stick

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