Make Your Own Applesauce
When I start seeing apple bushels at the market, I know it's prime time for applesauce. Pass on the jarred stuff and whip up a batch of your own. It's easy (we promise), and you won’t believe the delicious difference.
First things first, applesauce is a healthy indulgence -- it may taste sweet and like a sinful dessert, but a cup only has about 100 calories and lots of vitamin C and fiber.
A combo of sweet and tart apples gives the best balance of flavors. Red-skinned apples like McIntosh and Macoun offer a good basic, sweetness (I also like golden delicious). Keep the red skins on; they're packed with fiber and will give the sauce a rich and rosy hue. Mix in tart varieties like Granny Smith to cut through some of the sweetness. No matter what variety you choose, you should be good on texture; all apples contain high amounts of pectin, a natural thickener that gives applesauce its velvety consistency.
Flavor up your applesauce with traditional spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. A bit of lemon or orange zest will also help enhance that apple-y flavor. For additional sweetness, melt in sugar, honey or brown sugar. There are always those wildcard add-ins, too. My mom’s recipe (below) calls for a pat of butter; this secret ingredient makes such a difference!
For a kicked-up version of applesauce, go for a chutney, a sweet-and-spicy condiment that's made with fruit, vinegar and spices. Try it out on grilled chicken or fish or serve along with cheddar cheese and whole grain crackers.
Most applesauce recipes tell you to cook down the apples in a large pot along with some water and apple juice or cider, but your options don’t end there. You can also bake them for a richer flavor.
Once you cook and season your apples as desired, it’s time to turn them into sauce -- there’s really no wrong way to go. A food mill is my tool of choice; it will make your applesauce smooth but not pureed and will remove any seeds or bits of skin. For a chunkier and more rustic applesauce, use a whisk or a potato masher.
You can make large batches and store some in the freezer for up to six months; just put it into a freezer-safe plastic container or plastic bag. When you're ready for some, leave it in the refrigerator to defrost overnight. Dish out your applesauce for a low-calorie dessert or serve it with your favorite chicken or pork recipe. You can also use it to add natural sweetness and cut some fat out of muffin and cookie recipes (Tip: replacing half the oil with applesauce usually works).
Wash apples well and cut them into quarters (do not peel or core). Place apples in a large pot on top of the stove and cover with water by half. Cook uncovered over medium heat for 45 minutes or until apples are soft. Reduce the heat to low and add remaining ingredients; cook for an additional 15 minutes. Let the applesauce cool until lukewarm (it will thicken as it cools). Pass the apple mixture through a food mill with a medium disc. Place applesauce in individual jars and keep refrigerated.
More Recipes to Try: