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. Robyn says:

    I love making applesauce in the fall. I make a big batch in my crockpot and then freeze it. My family won't even touch the store boughten stuff anymore!

  2. Ed says:

    if you you use fresh apple ciger instead of water you'll get a much more applely flavor most cinders are a mix of 5 or 6 different apple juices. it gives the finished product a wonderfully complex flavor

  3. Melinda says:

    Wow…what a bunch of great tips and suggestions. Pondering what to try first this weekend as I venture into he world of homemade applesauce.

  4. i like this post very much

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  6. Celeste says:

    The article says the food mill will smooth the sauce and also remove seeds or bits of skin.

  7. I can applesause every year and you do not add water when your cooking your apples. Apples will make there own juice. Just make sure and turn your stove on low to medium and bring your cooked apples to a boil. Once you have cooked them to where they are mushy you can put them in a blender to get the smooth consistency like what you buy in the store. Then pour that mixture back into your pan your cooking on the stove, bring to a boil fill jars seal with lids and rings and they usually will seal themselves.

  8. Chris says:

    Thanks, Dana – Great article! I'm new here, so I hadn't seen it yet.

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