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How do you make a really good applesauce?

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Does anyone have a really really good recipe for a chunky homemade applesauce? I've tried making it before but it was just okay. I have had some that has just the right balance of sugar, butter, cinnamon and apples. What kind of apples makes the best? Any info will be appreciated. Thanx

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  1. This is how my mom taught me to make applesauce...
    Go to the market and buy a bunch of different apples. Dark red, green and a bunch in between. Wash them, cut them in half, core them and put them in a pot. Cover with water, bring to a boil, low heat and simmer covered, until apples are tender. Note: Different varieties will finish at different times, so check often and remove when you need to.
    Put through a food mill. Add sugar and cinnamon to taste. Every apple batch is different, and will require different amounts depending on the sweetness and your taste.
    I have made it this way ever since, and love it. The dark red apples give it a very pretty blush color as well.
    Hope that helps :)

    11 Replies
    1. re: Aaron

      Just a note...how my mom started her lesson. Really good apples make really good applesauce, as there's not much else going on. We're not in apple season, but start with the best you can find and you'll be on your way.

      1. re: Aaron

        Aaron's got you covered. Forget about Red Delicious and Granny Smith. Forget about apples grown in a warmish climate - cold weather is what brings up the sugar.
        Leave the skins on to get color -- which will be light brown with a faint reddish tinge.
        If you can start at the farmer's market or orchard, you'll have much better sauce. Mac, Cortland, Winesap, Stamens, Rome, or the newer flavorful varieties like Fuji, Matsu...they all have a place.
        We make most batches without sugar at all.

        applesauce is really under-rated!

        1. re: pitu

          Agree--and I like to add a splash(or two) of calvados!

          1. re: pitu

            That's interesting. I was about to disagree with you about the warmish climate thing, but I DO put sugar in my applesauce (made from South Carolina, July apples - warmish indeed) I was always taught that you were supposed to use non-very-sweet apples for pies and sauce etc., and save the sweeter ones for eating out of hand. What are your thoughts on that?

            I let my applesauce *almost* burn on the bottom a few times before stirring. Gives it a nice caramel flavor. A local restaurant puts orange zest in hers...it was great and I'll be trying that this year.

            1. re: danna

              definately tart apples, "pie apples" for sauce and baking

              I grew up with Virginia apples and NYS apples, so I can tell you for sure that you need the cold for better texture and flavor. The South doesn't stand a chance on this one!
              : )

              also with you on the carmelization from the bottom of the pan - just short of burning is great

        2. re: Aaron

          You can make very good applesauce in the microwave with no water added. Apples have a lot of water in them. If you have a food mill, like a Foley you don't even need to peel or core them. Just quarter and place in a covered dish and nuke until tender. If you don't have the food mill then peel and quarter and nuke. When they are tender run them through the food mill, it will hold back the seeds and skins and then season to taste if using peeled and quartered mash with a potato masher to desired consistency and then season. I prefer Cortlands and MacIntoshes. They both have a good sweet/tart balance. I would never use a Red not-Delicious apple for anything but compost.

          1. re: Candy

            Agreed on the red delicious...save them for the hogs, but Rome apples have the same color (which I like in an applesauce) and alot more flavor...they aren't nice to eat, too meely, but that isn't an issue when they're with others in a sauce.

          2. re: Aaron

            I have found that I get the tastiest applesauce when I use a variety of apples. I try to have a couple of Delicious, a few Granny Smith and a few sourer types. The more different types the better the taste. I just peel and core, put in a pan over a medium low flame, add a pinch of salt, add a little water if needed, cover and check/stir every few minutes. It is usually finishe din about 20 minutes.

            1. re: Aaron
              fai jay (fai jackson)

              My mother's way. We use MacIntosh (winter apples) and Northern Spys in a ratio of 6 to one. Quarter the apples and put in pot with a cinnamon stick and a small amount of water. Cover and cook over low heat until soft. My mother pushed this through a chinoise, but I use the Food Mill. I add a pinch of salt, sugar (sometime brown) or sometimes maple syrup--all to taste and a dash of vanilla to taste. If you want it chunky only put half through the mill and throw the reserved chunks in after removing skins.

              If I use maple syrup, I do not use vanilla. I have been known to add bourbon or apple jack.

              1. re: Aaron

                That's great advice on using different apples, thanks!

                Here's my secret: instead of cinnamon and sugar, put in 5 or 6 Red Hot candies for extra flavor.

                1. re: Aaron

                  Follow the advice about food mills, varieties of apples (Red Delicious are not apples, but styrofoam look-alikes; cannot understand why they are in the market, though I am aware that obtained locally in season they may have some flavor), and not peeling.

                  I'd forego cinnamon in favor of a bit of fresh lemon juice and freshly grated nutmeg (just a hint, goes a long way, but is not nearly as overpowering as cassia cinnamon -- if you must use cinnamon, try to use Ceylon cinnamon, which you usually can only get through spice purveyors -- it is less woody-floral and more citrusy).

                2. Butter? In applesauce?

                  I'm also a microwaver, and I usually make it in small batches for immediate use, so I do core and peel them so I don't have to get out the food mill. Basically, I core and peel them, rough chop them, and nuke them until tender with a small amount of water. Then, depending on just how lazy I am and what appliances I have at hand, I give them a few bursts with the food processor or immersion blender or use the potato masher, which will give you a chunkier texture. I like using the microwave because the short cooking time means you get a really fresh, bright apple taste.

                  1. I like my apple sauce chunky so I peel the apples, core and roghly chop them, add a little cider or water, bring to boil, cover for 10 mins., and cook gently, stirring alot to avoid sticking. Remove lid and cook about 10 mins. more. Add liquid if it is too dry.I usually put a few cinnamon sticks in with the apples, or flavor with lemon zest or vanilla (my favotite.)I adore apple sauce!

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Miss Claudy

                      I forgot, I sweeten with maple syrup if the apples aren't sweet enough.

                      1. re: Miss Claudy

                        I just did that for the first time, Miss Claudy, having a small amount of Vermont maple syrup left in the jar. Wow, did it make a difference.

                        Neta, it's all about the apples. Don't use red delicious or any other apple you wouldn't use in a pie.

                        Cut them up, don't even need to skin them if you're going to put the sauce in a blender, put in a pot with some syrup (or my previous favorite, orange juice) and let cook until the texture you want.

                        I put mine in a blender when cooled, and enjoy.

                    2. wow, you all are working so much harder than me with all that food mill and stuff.
                      I just peel and chop what ever apples need to get used up. Put them in a pot with only about an inch of water and a cinnamon stick. bring to boil and cover and simmer until soft, stirring the apples around towards the end of cooking to get them slightly "pureed".

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: Ida Red

                        I'm with you on skipping the food mill. I want *texture*. http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3207/3...

                        I use hardly any water at all tho -- only enough to get the extraction of the natural apple juices going.

                        I choose a variety of the apples that are available at any given time of year. I season with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and cardamom but I don't sweeten until it's done and only then with a light hand so as not to overwhelm the flavor of the apples.

                        1. re: rainey

                          If you don't use the food mill, you have to peel the apples, which means losing color and more importantly, lots of flavor. You don't even need to core with the food mill - just quarter the apples and cook. No water. Add cinnamon and sweeten after milling.

                          For chunky style, the cooks at the Canterbury Shaker Village have a great method. Firm apples are peeled, cored, and diced. They go into a big, wide, preheated pan and are stirred gently with maple syrup until they soften and the syrup and juices form a glaze. When cooled, the juices are like those that bubble up from a pie or crisp.

                          1. re: greygarious

                            Agreed! But I dislike the color of applesauce made with the peels. Personally, I find it very unattractive and without much additional flavor. ...and then there's the question of all the wax apples are shipped with now.

                            I'm peeling! And I have precious little waste when I use a melon baller to core. ;> But glad you can have it your way too.

                        2. re: Ida Red

                          Yup...I use fresh Macs that I pick in the fall at one of our local Massachusetts orchards. I add a squeeze of lemon juice at the end to brighten the flavor up, and an occasional spoonful of sweetener if the apples are too tart for my taste (not very often!). One of the important things is the "only an inch of water"..once they start to cook they release a lot of liquid, so you don't need to start with too much water or you end up with a dilute watery mess. I either use an immersion blender (for chunky) or, lately, I use my new tomato crusher (for smooth). With the crusher, I don't have to peel or core at all...just chop and cook and then all the seeds/skins shoot out the side of the crusher! I usually end up canning about 10 quarts each year for the winter.

                        3. Thank you for all the great information. Ms. Lafler, I have no idea where I got the idea that butter was an ingredient but I guess not. (May be the Paula Deen influence)

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: Neta

                            That said, now that I think about it, I bet applesauce made with chopped apples sauted in butter with cinnamon and sugar would be killer.

                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                              And if you leave out the sugar, It would be great stuffed in a pork chop!!

                              1. re: macca

                                I have to say that butter is good in just about anything. And the idea with pork chops is very good. How about adding some mashed potatoes and some cabbage sauteed in bacon fat. Oh Oh, better get back into the South Beach mode!!!!

                              2. re: Ruth Lafler

                                That would be escalloped apples and it is pretty damned good! But I wouldn't put butter in applesauce.

                              3. re: Neta

                                My mother always put a pat of butter in her applesauce. Also a pinch of salt and sugar to taste. Of course, that's how I make, too.
                                We called it apple sass when eaten warm and apple sauce when cool...

                              4. j
                                Joyce Goldstein

                                I found the Rose Beranbaum 'recipe' in her Celebrations cookbook years ago and I'm addicted. I take several pounds of mac apples, wash them, and quarter them and then half the quarters cutting out the cores as you go. Throw them in a big pot with the juice of a couple lemons. 1/4 cup of sugar for each lb. (I don't like it too sweet). Stir it all around so that the apples are covered. Let it macerate a bit for about 15-30 minutes so juices are given out. Add a few sticks of cinnamon. Bring the contents of the pot to a boil then simmer for about 15-30 minutes to the consistency you like. Let it cool. Remove the cinnamon sticks. Then put it through a coarse food mill. The mill will remove the skin nicely but the skin will have given the sauce a rosy appearance. Very pretty and very tasty. Very natural and easy.

                                1. I have been making it in my pressure cooker for ages. I use a combination of whatever apples I find at the market, red delicious, granny smith, braeburn, fuji, pink lady, etc.. I have no idea of the weight, but I use a lot of apples, filling the pressure cooker about 2/3 full. Maybe 14 apples. I peel, core and half the apples, add 1/2 cup of water and fill a tea ball with mulling spices (whole not powdered). Cook for about 6 minutes (sorry I don't have the recipe with me as I'm away from home). The apples are soft, but not mush, as I like some chunks, As soon as they are done, I add sugar to taste, a dash of vanilla, a squeeze of lemon and not really necessary - some butter, and let it cool before refrigerating.

                                  This year I will do the same think in a dutch oven on the stove, as I don't have my pressure cooker with me. I will be using the exact same ingredients, but I will try not to stir too often as that will make the apples mushier as they near completion. I just found out that you can freezer apple sauce, so I will do that this year.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Canthespam

                                    I forgot to add that there is always a lot of 'extra' juice, both in the pressure cooker and when cooked on the stove ( I just made some). I pour it out. I think it is necessary for the initial cooking period, as the apples may burn before they start releasing their juice. When you half the apples, rather than cut them into small pieces, you get some 'mush' from the softer types of apples, but the halves of the firmer types, stay intact. This gives you the option of having chunks or even quarter pieces in your sauce.

                                    I add very little sugar, maybe a scant tablespoon or so - I never measure, I do it by taste. We like it a little tart. Honey is good too.

                                  2. I like chunky applesauce, too.

                                    I use a mix of firm and tart and sweeter apples. Granny Smiths, Honeycrisps, Galas, a Golden Delicious or two. Maybe six apples, total.

                                    A little sugar, not much butter, maybe a tablespoon of butter, but I don't always even included that. I use maple syrup more often than sugar, but with either, I'd probably start with a quarter cup, not much more, than taste it as it's cooking down and add more if I want it. Spices of choice.

                                    I never find any need to add extra liquid. I just simmer it and the apples provide the liquid.

                                    Sometimes I add a handful of cranberries. In that case, it might need more sweetener. Chopped pear is also a good addition.

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: Steady Habits

                                      I decided to try making applesauce with roasted apples this year. Can't remember which varieties I used, though I suspect Cortlandt and Paula Reds were in the bunch as these are local farm CSA favorites. Just peeled, cored, sliced up and roasted on the silpat 'til they were done. Once cooled I gave them a whirl in the food processor. I added sugar to one batch but my six year old complained (!) that it was too sweet, and I have to say I agreed with her. Thereafter, we used no sugar and really loved the results. I have to say, this method produced some of the creamiest applesauce I've ever had, almost a different beast from my previous efforts (which included microwaving). Worth a try, and sooo easy.

                                      1. re: powella

                                        That sounds *very good*, powella. Everything seems good, to me, when roasted. I know I like apples roasted with chicken and pork, so I can imagine this would work nicely for applesauce. I don't have a food processor. You think there's some way I could finish it with an immersion blender without redecorating the kitchen? ;-)

                                        1. re: powella

                                          At what temp did you bake them, and did you do it until the juices caramelized? The best thing about the Shaker style sauce I posted about above is the browned juices, which are created in part by the maple syrup. Sounds like you may have achieved a similar result without additional sweetening.

                                          1. re: greygarious

                                            Sorry, I haven't visited My Chow for a while. I think I roasted them at 400 and just kept an eye on them. I think if you have enough volume of apples, the immersion blender is worth a shot. Alternatively, a blender is a good substitute for the food processor.
                                            Greygarious, my apples did not really carmelize, but my mouth is watering as I read your post! Maybe a little touch of canola oil would help in that regard....or, maple syrup! Thoughts for next fall's bounty...........

                                            1. re: powella

                                              I completely forgot about this thread, and the other day made ordinary applesauce with a food mill because I had a 3# bag of Macintoshes, which wouldn't hold up for Shaker-style preparation. Straining with the food mill means you don't even need to core - just halve or quarter and simmer or nuke till soft. These apples didn't even need sweetening - just a shake of cinnamon. I know that some people peel them first, but I think there's more flavor when the apples are cooked unpeeled, and don't mind the darker color. I will try the roasting plain - if I don't get them to caramelize, the second try will be stirring some maple syrup into the raw apples first.

                                      2. My biggest trick is to mix the variety of apples. The soft ones like the machintosh will distintergrate and the crisper ones will give you the chunky texture, and gives a more interesting taste. If you want a slight change of flavor try adding some lemon zest (from a Marth receipe).

                                        1. Salt! A hefty pinch goes a long way with fruit.

                                          1. My recipe for chunky applesauce is my adaptation of a recipe in the Southern Living 1990 Annual Recipes.

                                            I use 3# of Rome or Jonathan apples, peeled and quartered in a dutch oven with 1 cup of apple juice or apple cider. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes. Next, add a cinnamon stick and 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg. Cook uncovered for 15 minutes - stirring constantly. Remove from heat and cool for 30 minutes minimum. Remove cinnamon stick and serve. Refrigerate the leftovers.

                                            My childhood home was in a former apple orchard. There were four trees left in our yard, so we had apple dishes constantly when I was a child. As an adult, I tried a great many different recipes before settling on the above. It is the only recipe I use now.

                                            1. In my part of the country, Gravensteins are considered the best sauce apple. Quite frankly, the biggest factor in whether your applesauce is good is the apple. You need the right kind for sauce, and I suspect that varies from region to region. And then even if you have the right kind, the individual apples have to be flavorful. If they're not, nothing is going to save your applesauce. For OK but not great apples, try adding a little lemon juice and/or grated rind in addition to the sugar and whatever spice you use. I'd suggest not using butter, because dairy masks the fruit flavor. If you want it chunky, forget the food mill.

                                              1. Some great suggestions here. As with so much of cooking, recipes can take you only so far, since there’s such great variability in apples, both among the various varieties (some better suited to sauce-making than others), but also within the same varieties, depending on where and how they are grown and stored, whether they’re harvested early or late in the season, etc. All these factors affect flavor & texture. And of course personal preference—tart or sweet, chunky or smooth, with or without skins or spices—ranges widely as well.

                                                With all that in mind, here’s my “recipe”: Wash and quarter about 5 lbs of apples, using several varieties if available. (Good candidates include Fuji, Gravenstein, Macoun, Mutsu, Jonagold, Northern Spy, McIntosh, & Granny Smith.) Dump them into a crockpot. (If the apples don’t all fit at first, keep the surplus close at hand to add as the apples in the pot dissolve into sauce.) If the apples aren’t fresh-picked and bursting with juice, add a scant cup of apple cider. Cover the crockpot and go about your business. Check the pot after an hour or so, giving things a good stir and adding apples as needed. Repeat every hour or so til all apples have softened. Run the softened apples through a food mill (or a large sieve set over a bowl) while still warm, and enjoy some before it cools. I rarely add anything else, but you can use a little sugar or lemon juice to adjust it to your own sweet/tart preference. The Motts never had it so good.

                                                1. I always make and freeze my own applesauce. 1) I use only McIntosh apples, for their incomparable flavor. 2) I peel and core the apples, put just an inch or so of water in the pan, cover the pan, and simmer until the apples are soft, which takes very little time as McIntoshes fall apart easily. 3) I add sugar to taste, also cinnamon and a little clove and nutmeg. 4) I mash all this up together with an old-fashioned hand potato masher---leave the apples chunky. Takes very little effort. The applesauce freezes perfectly.

                                                  1. Has anyone advised that you roast your applesauce yet? It's sensational and easy, easy, easy.

                                                    There are lots of recipes and methods online. I use one with a splash of a good vinegar that you'd be willing to sip and a knob of butter added before you mash your finished apples. A bit of cinnamon and nutmeg as well. I bake the peeled and cored large chunks once, covered, at 375˚ until they're soft and then again, uncovered, at 450˚ to get them all roasty, a bit charred and to reduce the juices. And I hardly mash 'em when that's done. I like chunky too so I just make a few strategically placed smashes with a pastry blender and then stir what wants to come apart.

                                                    It tastes like apple pie and keeps in the fridge for an astonishingly long time so I make big batches for morning oatmeal, pork dishes and just plain snacking.

                                                    You can do this with all kinds of apples and, of course we don't all have the same varieties available in our area. Half Fuji and half Gala works for me but I've done whatever I have on hand and also all Fuji and all Galas. It's the roasting that gives them such great flavor.

                                                    I used to do mine slowly simmering them on the stovetop. It was good but I'll never go back!