Some apples are perfect and need no extra flavor - consider saving those for fresh eating or pies. But when you inevitably end up with apples that are a little bland or their texture isn't great - give them a second chance in applesauce with brown sugar.
- 3 lbs apples, unpeeled, cut into 1 inch pieces about 8 medium apples, see note
- ½ cup water
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoon brown sugar if needed
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice
- Cut the apples into 1" pieces, discarding the cores. Leave the skin on.
- Add apples, ½ cup water, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and ⅛ teaspoon salt to pot. Bring to a boil.
- Reduce to a simmer, cover with a lid, and stir occasionally. Cook for 15-20 minutes until apples are soft. Overcooking the apples can reduce their flavor.
- Once soft, remove from heat and mash. For a smooth applesauce, use an immersion blender or food mill.
- Taste. Add half of the brown sugar (1.5 Tbsp) and half of the lemon juice (1 Tbsp). Stir and taste again. Add remaining brown sugar and/or lemon juice as needed.
- Store in the fridge for up to two months or process for canning (see note)
Best apples for applesauce
Any kind of apple works when you're adding a little extra flavor. But if you're purposefully choosing the best kinds specifically for applesauce, here are the ones that stand out:
Using the peels
The peels actually add a lot of flavor, you can choose to keep them in at the end or not.
- To keep the peels in, and retain their extra fiber, process the applesauce with an immersion blender or food processor until smooth.
- To remove the peels, run the applesauce through a food mill, which will capture the peels.
The only apple I've ever run into with a bad tasting peel is Red Delicious. They are slightly bitter and tannic.
Applesauce doesn't need added lemon juice (acid) for safe canning because apples are acidic enough on their own. Added sugar also isn't necessary for safe canning. See a list of approved liquids and sugars for canning apple butter, which also applies to apple sauce.
- Bring a large pot of water to boil and prepare canning jars.
- Fill warmed jars with hot apple sauce, leaving ½ inch of headspace. Remove air bubbles by running a wooden skewer or butter knife around the inside. Wipe rim clean. Place lid on jar and finger-tighten the band (it needs to be tight enough that it keeps the lid on, but not so tight that air can't escape).
- Process jars in the hot water bath for 20 minutes, adjusting up for altitude (25 minutes for 1,000-3,000 feet, 30 minutes for 3,000-6,000 feet, and 35 minutes up to 8,000 feet).
- Remove jars from pot and let cool for 24 hours. Check to make sure each jar is sealed. Store for up to 1 year.
Other applesauce recipes
- Food in Jars adds optional star anise for a licorice flavor
- Cookie + Kate sweetens her applesauce with maple syrup
- Two Peas & Their Pod make applesauce with an Instant Pot
- America's Test Kitchen Foolproof preserving cookbook:
- 5 lbs apples, unpeeled
- ½ cup sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 4 cups water
- 2 cinnamon sticks (removed at the end)
- The all-new Ball book of canning and preserving:
- 6 lbs apples, peeled
- ⅔ cup sugar
- ⅓ cup water
- ½ cup bottled lemon juice