My mother ate a lot of applesauce, mixing her crushed Centrum Silver vitamin into it. She could no longer home-can it as she had in my youth, or process it for freezing as she had in later years. One of my favorite treats when I came to my parents’ home for a visit, was warm homemade applesauce and Tillamook vanilla yogurt, made in Oregon. I tried to recreate that breakfast when I returned to my own home, but store-bought applesauce is subpar, at best.
Permanently back in my mother’s kitchen, I learned to make and can applesauce, using apples from the trees below our home and those from our neighbor’s orchard—from which I had picked an apple as I walked up the driveway to catch the school bus or to feed my horse the first time I lived here.
Now I add homemade granola and use plain Greek yogurt, but still Tillamook. Made in Oregon (on the land of the indigenous Tillamook and other native peoples, whom they acknowledge as those who came before and whose continued presence is important to their future), the Tillamook Cooperative uses sustainable production methods and just employment practices. And it’s darn good. You can find out if it’s sold in your neck of the woods here.
I tried many applesauce recipes before settling on a favorite. Here it is for you!
Makes 3-4 pints. (Double recipe for a canner full, 7 pints/14 half-pints)
4 pounds apples (@10 large)
1/4 – 1/2 cup honey or agave, to taste (I prefer it tart, so I use the lesser amount)
1/4 cup lemon juice
1-2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
First, I use apples off the trees. If multiple varieties are ripe at the same time, I mix them, which I read is a good thing. I ignore any instruction in a recipe that indicates what kind of apple to use. Use what you like, get a variety, in my opinion it doesn’t matter, though they will all taste different. If you have a favorite apple, you will probably like sauce made from it.
How many apples you need depends on the size. (It doesn’t have to be exactly four pounds.) My orchard apples are big, and it takes about 10 for one recipe.
How you process it depends on what equipment you have. I happen to have my mother’s ancient Foley Food Mill, which is a wonder. I use a peeler/corer machine, which is pretty slick and well worth the price (which isn’t much). Because I also use the food mill, I’m not obsessive about the core the machine misses—because not all apples are perfectly shaped. If you have a mill, but not a peeler, roughly core the apples to cut down on grinding time, but you don’t need to peel them (that takes forever). If you don’t have a mill, you will need to core carefully and peel (unless you use transparent apples, the skin on them cooks down). You can leave it chunky or put it through a blender-type machine.
Cut the apples in chunks and throw them in a large pot. Or a small pot if you are making a small batch. I use my large soup pot and double the recipe. Put the lemon juice in with your first chunks to get the cooking down going and just keep adding apples as they are prepared. Apples have a lot of water in them, so be cautious about adding water.
Cook apples down to near sauce consistency, stirring frequently to keep from scorching. If you are using a mill, it will smooth out chunks. If you aren’t using a mill, cook the carefully peeled and cored apples to whatever consistency you want or put it in the blender for smooth sauce.
Return sauce to a clean pot and add the honey/agave, lemon peel, and cinnamon. Voila! Yummy applesauce. Be sure to lick the spoon while it’s warm.
For canning instructions: Google. (Of course, you can also freeze it.)