I just love to bake, cook, and try new things. It doesn't always come out the way I had in mind, but that's ok! It always tastes good.
Homemade Applesauce My Way
Autumn is the perfect season to make lots of applesauce. If you're lucky enough to have an apple tree growing in your garden, it's also the best harvest time. I love to turn those apples into a delicious food.
When I make applesauce, I don't even bother to peel and core the apples. Not only does this mean less work in the kitchen, but it's healthier, too, because the skin and cores contain the most pectin, which is a healthy dietary fiber. For this reason, I often use apples that are too small to peel. I don't even remove the stems! Of course, you can use big apples, too, but then you have to cut them in smaller pieces.
I like to experiment when I make my applesauce, and over the years I've developed many different variations. Each has its own specific flavor profile, and I've shared some of my favorite versions below.
- Small apples (quantity depends on how much applesauce you want to make)
- Sugar, to taste
- Cinnamon, to taste
- Raisins, 1 or 2 handfuls
- Thoroughly wash the apples in cold water. You can either use your hands or use a brush.
- Don't bother to peel the apples. Cut each one into a few pieces and fill a pot until it's half full. Add about 2 or 3 cups of water.
- Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and let it simmer for some time until the apple chunks are quite soft and mushy. Don't forget to stir occasionally to avoid sticking to the bottom of your pan.
- When the apples are soft and mushy, turn off the heat. Use a food mill to separate the stems, cores, and skin (see photos below).
- To the milled apples, add sugar and mix. Begin by adding just a little. The amount of sugar depends on your desired sweetness level. I don't like my applesauce to be too sweet, but your preferences may be different. Taste and adjust as needed.
- Add the cinnamon and mix. Start by adding just a little, then taste and add more if desired.
- Throw in a few handfuls of raisins. I like to use a mix of brown and yellow raisins, but you can add whichever kind you prefer. Stir the raisins through the mixture and let it rest for a few hours.
- Don't heat the applesauce again. The more you cook it, the more the good stuff, like the vitamins, will disappear.
- After a few hours, the raisins will become swollen and the sauce will have come to room temperature. Then you can spoon it into plastic containers and store them in the fridge and/or freezer.
Food Mill: An Invaluable Tool
I like to use a classic food mill. It crushes everything and leaves only the rubbish behind. I don't even remember anymore when I bought mine, but I guess I have had it all my married life, which is almost 50 years now. Today's food mills are often made of stainless steel.
How to Use a Food Mill to Make Applesauce
- Place the food mill over a pan. Make sure it fits well and doesn't wobble.
- Add cooked apples to mill and grind. Sometimes, you will need to turn the handle counter-clockwise in order to uncatch the skins and other bits from the blades.
- When the pan is full, place the sauce into another big bowl and scrape the food mill clean.
As I mentioned above, I've made many different variations over the years. For all of these options, you can choose whether you'd like your applesauce to have a fine or chunky consistency. If you'd like a fine consistency, use the recipe above as a base (the food mill is how you achieve the fine texture). If you'd prefer a chunky consistency, use the instructions immediately following:
Chunky Applesauce Base
Use big apples. Peel and core each apple, and then cut each one into just a few big slices. Cook the slices until they are soft but still chunky. (For this sauce, you do not use a food mill.)
Fresh Fruit Variations
For the following variations, make your applesauce base first, and then add these fruits. You can also choose to add raisins to any of these variations, if you like.
- With Fresh Prunes: If you don't want the skin, place the prunes in hot water and peel off the skin. Cut the prunes in half and remove the pips (seeds). Cook the prunes until they're soft.
- With Fresh Cranberries: Take 1 or 2 packages of cranberries and cook them until they're soft.
- With Fresh Quinces: Cut the quinces into smaller pieces, cook them until they're soft, and put them through the rotary food mill.
Storage Container Tips
I always make applesauce in big batches and then freeze it. I use a big cast iron Dutch oven with a diameter of at least 30-40cm (12-16").
Most of the time I don't use Tupperware or other standard food storage containers. Instead, I collect the plastic containers that our margarine comes in. I clean the empty containers and use them for storing food in the freezer, including this applesauce. It's handy and it's cheap.
Apple Chunks: An Easy, Make-Ahead Side Dish
A different way to use your apples is to make apple chunks that can be served as an easy side dish with dinner. This is so delicious—and so easy to make!
- Peel, core, and cut the apples into chunks. Place the chunks in a big bowl.
- Cover the apples in sugar and cinnamon. Mix thoroughly for even coverage.
- Spoon apple chunks into small containers and store them in the freezer.
- When you're ready to serve, place frozen apple chunks in the microwave for about 4 or 5 minutes. They will come out soft, mushy, and delectable.
How to Make Applesauce out of Apple Cores
Does this recipe look delicious to you?
© 2013 Titia Geertman