Apple picking season is fully upon us, and that can mean only one thing. It’s time for apple everything. People will be making apple pies, apple cakes, apple muffins, apple crisp — you get the idea. Most of the apples I get this time of year, though, aren’t so good for baking. Macintosh, Empire, and Cortland apples are delicious, but they turn to mush when cooked, so all of the aforementioned apple goodies are out of the question.
So, what do I do with all these lovely apples? I make applesauce. I know, it sounds terribly unimpressive. After all, why make something that’s so readily available in the store? Because, homemade applesauce is unlike anything you will ever be able to get at the store. There are tons of recipes available online, but here’s how I make applesauce.
Step 1: Cut up a whole bunch of apples.
Core and cut up as many apples as you want. I like to use at least eight apples at a time, but use whatever you have. Here’s the key, though, don’t peel the apples. By leaving the skins on, you get a lovely pink color to your applesauce, plus more flavor and body.
Step 2: Add some liquid to the apples.
Once you have your apples cut and in the pot, you’ll need to add some liquid so the apples don’t burn as they’re cooking. While you can use water, I really like to reinforce the apple flavor by using apple cider. I don’t ever measure the amount of liquid I use — I just add enough to get the applesauce going, then add more later if it looks a little dry. You can make it as soupy or thick as you like.
Step 3: Taste your applesauce and add flavors as needed.
Once your apples have turned completely to mush, taste your applesauce and decide if you need to add any extra sugar. Most of the time, I don’t need to add anything else, but this year, the apples were rather tart, so I added a little bit of sugar to balance the flavor. You can also add cinnamon, cloves, or other spices that you like paired with apples. Personally, I like the intense, clean apple flavor, so I don’t add spices to my applesauce.
Step 4: Strain your applesauce.
Put your applesauce into a strainer and push it around with a spoon The skins will stay in the strainer and the delicious applesauce will end up in the bowl, ready to eat. Many recipes will tell you that you need to do this with a food mill, but a strainer works beautifully here and is easier to find.
Step 5: Enjoy!
Now all that’s left to do is enjoy the best tasting applesauce you’ll ever eat.