I know it is already January, but I am still catching up with blog posts I wrote in December. I want to encourage people to make things from scratch which can feel intimidating, so here is one of the easiest things to make yourself and if you don’t feel up to trying the canning part you can just freeze it in containers and have it year round. It is humble APPLESAUCE. As I mentioned in my last post (“Audrianna’s Favorite Pumpkin Pie from Scratch”) the difference between homemade and store bought applesauce is amazing. There is so much more flavor in the homemade version, especially if you use organic, flavorful apples. We had some Granny Smith apples left from our trees so I used those but any apple that is tasty will work. You can also use several varieties of apples for a more complex flavor. My first canning experience was making applesauce with my grandmother, so I wanted to pass the tradition on to my daughter. Since it is hard to ruin applesauce, it makes the perfect “first canning” effort for beginners.
Awhile back, I talked about favorite kitchen “gadgets”. The apple-potato peeler (see photo) is really fabulous if you make anything with apples that requires peeling and coring. I whipped through a dozen apples in about 15 minutes, plus had all those fun “strings” of peelings for the critters. We used to hang them in the trees until we got chickens. They are like little apple “worms” for the hens. Sorry wild birds…
“Way Better Than Store Bought Applesauce RECIPE”
Note: you can make it with just a few apples and eat all of it right away, or make a big batch and can or freeze the extra. This recipe makes about 10 half pints, plenty to eat now and share or save for later.
10 medium to large apples (Granny Smith, Gravenstein, Gala, Pink Lady or whatever has lots of flavor)
Juice of 1 lemon
½ – ¾ cup water, add as needed until you get the perfect consistency*
1 – 3 TBSP cinnamon (to your taste)
1 – 2 TBSP ground ginger (omit if you don’t like ginger, add more if you really like)
At least 4 TBSP maple syrup (DO NOT OMIT THIS, adds a really delicious flavor) – depending on how sweet the apples are and how sweet you like your applesauce.
*Great thing about applesauce is you cannot mess it up. Add more water if too think, cook longer if too watery… add more or less spices to your taste. This is SERIOUSLY simple and rewarding for your efforts!
1 -2 teaspoons vanilla, ground cloves, allspice, nutmeg
Feel free to experiment and make your own unique flavored applesauce, or no spices and just go with the flavors of the apples. I do NOT add any sugar to my applesauce, just the maple syrup. DIRECTIONS: Peel the apples, and slice into small pieces, sprinkle with lemon juice and then add to large pot with lots of head space in case of splattering.
Add a bit of water and simmer, very low, until apples get mushy. Depending on the type of apple this will take from 20 – 40 minutes. Do stir it often to keep the bottom from sticking/scorching.
When apples are fairly soft you can use an immersion blender to make it smoother or a potato masher if you like chunky applesauce.
When you like the consistency, add the maple syrup and any spices you want to add. Stir well and simmer a few more minutes to let flavors develop. If you are canning it, you will want to prepare your jars and hot water bath while the applesauce is cooking. (see photos below) Yet another of my favorite kitchen “tools” is the magnetic stick that lifts the lids right out of the hot water. Use a canning funnel to fill the jars.
If you are canning it, you will want to prepare you jars and hot water bath while the applesauce is cooking. Put hot applesauce into jars and process 15 minutes for half pints; 20 minutes for pints. If you are freezing some, let cool first then put in containers and freeze. Unprocessed, it will keep in the fridge for about 2 weeks, maybe longer.