Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
May 8, 2006 06:38 PM

How do you make a really good applesauce?

  • n

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

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  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 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 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 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*.

                        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...