10 April 2013: Below is my classic applesauce recipe, the one that I put up specifically for chunky, cinnamon-rich applesauce. When I am feeling lazy, or have a basket of tiny & misshapen wild apples that resist peeling, I will often simply halve the apples, simmer, then run through a food mill and cook down to a saucy consistency. Also, over the course of the preserving season, I often find that I need the pectin boost of fresh apple juice for certain recipes: I’ll usually can or freeze the remaining pulp as “applesauce” for cooking or baking. As usual: there are many ways to skin an apple. Including not skinning it at all! Check out the post on preserving apples for a whole peck ‘o apple ideas.
I don’t really like applesauce. I think it’s a texture thing, because I love raw apples (but only crisp ones) and I love cinnamon, and this applesauce smells amazing, but really, I don’t eat it. I use it in cooking, I give it away as gifts (it makes a great gift for new parents), and I serve it when friends come over. I can’t imagine not making it, however: not only would my girlfriend Christina never forgive me (she eats it with a spoon right out of the jar, and rations herself to one spoonful a day), it is a great way to preserve the harvest and to use up those late winter/early spring apples in the fridge that have gotten just a bit too soft for eating.
This applesauce is very flavorful and quite cinnamony. I like it thick & chunky (for serving and for cooking) so I cook the apples down but do not typically blend or mill the sauce. Apples are so naturally sweet that it is hard to believe that most manufactured applesauce contains sugar: try this recipe out with no sweetener at all. If you find it is not sweet enough for your taste, add up to 1 cup of local honey, in ¼-cup increments, until it tastes right to you.
Adapted from Homemade Applesauce in Michel Nischan’s Homegrown
- 6 lbs apples
- 6 cinnamon sticks
- 1 and ¼ cups freshly pressed apple cider or juice
- ¼ cup lemon juice (fresh or bottled)
- 1 tsp sea salt
- Measure lemon juice and cider into a large wide Dutch oven or preserving pan. Peel, core and quarter apples, dropping them into the pot as you go (occasionally toss in the lemon juice-cider to prevent browning).
- Toast the cinnamon sticks: using kitchen tongs and a heavy duty oven mitt, hold the cinnamon sticks, one or two at a time, over the flame of a gas range, turning frequently, for about 1 minute, until they darken and smell fragrant. You can also toast the sticks by laying them directly on a (clean) electric burner for about 20 to 30 seconds per side. Add the cinnamon sticks and salt to the pot.
- Bring apples to a simmer over medium heat. Stir well, then lower heat as low as it will go, partially cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples break down to a saucy consistency, 1 to 2 hours.
- Prepare canner, jars and lids.
- When the applesauce has achieved the desired consistency, taste and adjust lemon juice, salt or sweetener; remove cinnamon sticks. Fill hot jars to ½-inch head space, wipe rims, affix lids and process in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes.
Yields about 8 cups.
- Apples are safely acidic to can without additional acid: lemon juice is added here for taste and vibrancy. It is safe to omit if you choose.
- It’s best not to substitute ground cinnamon for the sticks: the ground spice will add a muddy appearance to your applesauce. Better to can without it, and add a sprinkle of cinnamon when serving.
- If you prefer your applesauce very smooth, once you remove the cinnamon sticks, blend the sauce with an immersion blender, or allow to cool a bit and transfer to a blender or food processor to blend. Heat the sauce to bubbling prior to canning.
- I highly recommend this peeler for making quick work of the peeling.
Canned, at room temperature, for at least 1 year. Refrigerated for several weeks.
Apple season peaks in the Fall, usually October in the Hudson Valley, but local apples are available at farmer’s markets all winter long, and apples stored in a root cellar or the refrigerator will last well into Spring.