applesauce

If you’ve never tried to make your own applesauce, you’re missing out. You may think it will be too much work to make your own from scratch, but you’ll be surprised by how quick and easy it is to make some at home.

Making your own applesauce also means you get full control over what ingredients go in it, so you can keep an eye on the sugar content, and eat it knowing that there are no additives or colorings in it.

How to Make Applesauce

First, choose your apples. You can use any kind of apples to make applesauce, and they don’t have to be crisp because they’re going to be cooked down into mush.

This means it’s a great opportunity to use up the slightly dented apples from the discount bin, or the windfalls if you are lucky enough to have access to an apple tree.

Learn which apples are naturally sweet and which ones are tart, as this will affect how much sugar you add. You can also mix different varieties of apples to create a truly individual applesauce with a complex flavor.

Should You Peel?

If you want to mash the apples once cooked, peel and core them first. Leave the peels on if you’re going to put the cooked pieces through a food mill, which will separate the skin and seeds from the mashed apple. Leaving the skin on while the apple cooks also adds color to the sauce.

You’ll need to cut the apples into one to two inch chunks so they’ll all cook evenly at the same time.

Add Some Spices

Most applesauce recipes use cinnamon and nutmeg as flavoring, but you could also add lemon juice to brighten up the taste, or ginger to give a warm kick. Instead of using ground spices that lose their flavor quickly on the shelf, try adding some freshly grated nutmeg and a couple of whole cinnamon sticks to the pot.

Wait to Add Sugar

You shouldn’t add any sugar to your applesauce until after the apples are mostly cooked, because some apples are sweeter than others, and cooking causes their natural sugars to caramelize and intensify.

Taste the mix before adding any other sweeteners, and then add a little at a time, stirring well after adding.

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Ways to Cook Applesauce

• Stovetop: It only takes 35 minutes to make on the stovetop.

• Slow cooker: Just load up your slow cooker, switch on, and walk away. In a few hours, you’ll have perfectly cooked applesauce. If the sauce looks a little watery near the end, leave the lid off and let the moisture cook away.

• Rice cooker: This method combines the speed of the stovetop with the convenience of the slow cooker.

• Microwave: If you need applesauce in a hurry, you can blast the apples in the microwave for super-fast sauce.

Storing Fresh Applesauce

• Refrigerator: Keep your applesauce in a glass or plastic container. It will keep for up to two weeks

• Freezer: Fill some freezer-safe quart-size plastic bags with cooled sauce and lay them flat on a baking tray. Freeze flat and store to save space. You can also freeze infant portions in ice cube trays and put them in a freezer bag. Your frozen applesauce should last for six months.

• Canning: You can preserve homemade applesauce for a year or more if you can it in glass jars.