In the last few years I have discovered the joy of homemade applesauce. All my life I never knew what I was missing! Last year I froze quite a few gallons of homemade applesauce. We just finished the last quart bag a few weeks ago. (To my joy, I found it buried in the freezer!) Once you have tasted homemade applesauce there is no turning back to your standard store-bought variety! And, another plus about homemade applesauce is that there is no ascorbic acid in this recipe. Any of you corn sensitive people know that it is hard to find applesauce (even organic) that doesn’t contain this corn-derived preservative.
The great thing about my method of making applesauce is that there is no peeling or straining involved! All you need is a knife, a crockpot, and an immersion blender (a standard blender will also work, but adds a few more minutes of time). Ready? Let’s get started!
My apples shipment from Azure Standard arrived today and I am a bit giddy! These are fresh, flavorful, organic apples grown on family farms in Oregon. The price can’t be beat! Our access to orchard fresh apples is limited here in Middle Tennessee. I ordered 5 cases this month to enjoy raw and to preserve as applesauce.
The variety of apples really does impact the flavor of the applesauce. Supposedly a combining a few different varieties of apples makes for a great applesauce. When I order in bulk and in season, though, there aren’t always a wide variety of apples from which to choose. I discovered last year that we all enjoy Fuji apples for making applesauce. Since Azure didn’t have Fuji apples available in September, I ordered the more tangy-sweet Jonagold apples to try (based upon the recommendation of the Farmer’s Almanac.)
We purchased some Macintosh apples last year from a Georgia orchard, but didn’t find the applesauce very flavorful (so I added some cinnamon to that batch and that helped.) Perhaps it was just that particular box of apples, so I don’t mean to cast an unfavorable light upon all Macintosh apples!
To prepare the apples for applesauce, just wash them well even if they are organic apples. I do prefer to purchase organic or “no-spray” apples if possible. The Environmental Working Group rates apples as second out of 48 produce items ranked by highest pesticide residue content (they are only slightly worse than strawberries, sigh!) If you only have access to conventionally grown apples, be sure to wash them well (using a solution of vinegar and water as I described in this post) and consider peeling them.
You can use an apple corer like this one by Zwilling J.A. Henckels (which we own and like to use) to core the apples before cutting, but when you are preparing large amounts of apples that don’t have to look pretty, it is faster to cut the four sides off of the apples until you end up with a square core (as in the picture below.) I just cut off the four sides of the apple and place them in my crock pot – no dicing, no peeling.
Don’t throw away those apple cores! One year I made my own apple cider vinegar from the apple cores. Last year I made some apple scrap syrup using the cores from applesauce along with some leftover peels I had from making apple pie (I prefer to peel my apples for apple pie!) The syrup wasn’t really thick, but it was delicious stirred into oatmeal or drizzled over pancakes in lieu of maple syrup. This year, I just gave some of the cores to the donkeys since I knew I wouldn’t have the time to process my cores.
Leaving the apple skin on the apples is not just taking the easy way out. The apple peels actually contain natural pectin that thickens the applesauce. The red pigment of the apple skin lends a lovely rosy hue to the applesauce.
Let’s Get Cooking!
To make the applesauce, I fill up my 6 quart Crockpot to the top with apple slices, add about 1/2 cup water, and about 2-3 tsp. lemon juice. Cover the crockpot and turn on high for 2 hours, or low for 3-4 hours, or until apples are soft. Use the immersion blender to puree the cooked apples into applesauce.
This cooking method makes an apple puree — a fairly uniform texture. If you are selective about texture, you can strain the applesauce through a fine mesh strainer prior to serving.
Preserving Your Work
I cool my applesauce and then freeze 2-3 cups in quart-sized zippered freezer bags. If you have room in your freezer, lay the bags flat to freeze. Once they freeze you can contain them in the freezer with an old 9×13 metal baking pan.
A 6-quart Rubbermaid commercial food service container is great for storing quart sized bags of frozen food. These containers can contain 5-6 quart bags of frozen applesauce, pumpkin puree, or chicken broth (depending upon the volume of each bag.) The square size fits well onto the freezer shelf and I can see what is inside. It also corrals the frozen bags so that they don’t ambush me when I open the freezer to rummage around in there! (Not that I’ve ever smashed my toes with frozen blocks of chicken broth or anything!)
- Thaw your bag or jar of applesauce slightly in warm water and enjoy as a slushy treat!
- Top your whole grain pancakes or waffles with applesauce as a lower sugar option (my Little Farmer’s like to dip their pancake bites into a small bowl of applesauce.)
- Mix applesauce half and half with plain yogurt for a naturally sweetened yogurt.
- Layer applesauce and yogurt with granola for an applesauce parfait.
- Applesauce makes a perfect baby food!
- Apples (organic preferred)
- 2-3 teaspoons organic Lemon Juice (optional)
- Sea Salt (optional)
- Fill your crockpot/slow cooker to the top with apple slices, add about ½ cup water (for 6 quart crock).
- Optional: Add 2-3 teaspoons lemon juice and a pinch of salt if desired (not necessary for great applesauce, but add to taste) .
- Cover and turn on high for 2 hours, or low for 3-4 hours. Cook until apples are soft.
- Remove lid and allow to cool for about 30 minutes.
- Use the immersion blender to puree the cooked apples into applesauce.
- Cool for 30 minutes and store in the refrigerator for 2-3 days in a glass jar or freeze for later in quart sized freezer zip-top bags.
Our Favorite Things:
What about you?
Have you ever made homemade applesauce? If so, what is your favorite apple variety to use? I would love for you to share that with our Ingrained Community! Leave a comment below or drop me a line at Bethany@ingrainedliving.com
Here’s to Wholesome! (and autumn abundance!)
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