So I might have lied about making one new homemade food that people generally buy to celebrate October Unprocessed. I’ve made applesauce before. In fact, I’ve made it a lot, for the past three years, at least a dozen quarts a year. And here I am, making it again. Even though it’s not new to me, I figured it might be new to some people. When I said boozy cranberries was the perfect canning starter recipe, I was wrong. Applesauce is the absolute easiest thing to make. So little effort and so good. I swear once you make your own applesauce, you’ll never go back.
For my birthday we went apple picking (yes, I’m actually 3o, not 3, but I love it!) at Wilklow Orchards. If you’re in the NYC area, I highly recommend it! I’ve been to a lot of orchards in my life, but this place is beautiful, secluded and has plenty of apples. It’s about a 2 hour drive from NYC, and best of all, about 15 minutes from New Paltz, a perfect place to find lunch. I ended up coming home with about 75lbs of apples–1 bushel that we picked and another box of “industrial” apples. These are generally the apples that fall around the trees and look pretty bruised. Not so good for eating, but incredibly cheap and great for sauce!
So what do you need to make applesauce? Well, apples, of course. Ingredient wise, that’s about it. I add a bit of lemon juice to prevent browning but it’s not necessary. Sugar is one thing I strongly advise NOT including. Depending on the blend of apples you use, the sauce is pretty sweet without any added sugar. And healthier for you. I stick with sweeter apples like red delicious (an apple I wouldn’t ever touch normally), Gala, Jonagold, then add in some tarter apples for balance like macs, winesaps (MY FAVORITE) and northern spy. Most important is to use a blend of apples for the best flavor. Other than your handy dandy canning pot, you need a large pot (the larger the pot, the more applesauce you can make!), a food mill (essential for making it on the easy list, so you don’t have to peel the apples) and an apple corer, if you have it, to make things even easier.
I also encourage keeping the sauce simple. In the past I’ve added spices and find it takes away from the natural apple flavor. If you’re looking to add spice, like cinnamon or clove, I suggest canning the sauce plain, then adding a bit of spice when you serve it.
Homemade Apple Sauce
- Apples! I usually start with about 15lbs
- Splash of lemon juice (to prevent browning)
- 1 c water (or enough to cover the bottom of your pot by about an inch)
In a large stockpot (I use a 9 quart pot), add 1 cup water (or so the bottom is covered by about 1/2in of water). Quarter apples and remove core. Place apple chunks in the large stockpot.
Once the pot is about half way filled, bring pot to a boil over medium high heat while you continue chopping apples. When pot is boiling, reduce to a simmer and cover, opening to add new apples. Check pot frequently, stir to prevent burning and mash the apple pulp with a potato masher.
Once all apples are in the pot (or pot is too full to fit anymore), allow pot to simmer another 15-20 minutes until apples are VERY soft. Push apples through a food mill, fitted with a medium disk, to remove skins.
Fill clean, hot pint jars with sauce, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Process in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes. From a large pot filled with apples I usually yield about 9 pints.