As a kid I loved Mott’s sweetened applesauce. Of course, in those days grilled cheese meant white bread with American “cheese food” and Campbell’s soup reigned supreme in our house.
Now I make grilled cheese with thick sourdough bread and sharp cheddar and it’s been years since I’ve had Campbell’s soup. My applesauce tastes have changed too. From pale and processed, I've moved to homemade, rosy, and tastier . Sometimes I make it chunky and add cinnamon, other times I throw in a bit of sugar flavored with vanilla or ginger. But best of all this time of year, I make it simply, as topping for latkes.
The secret to great applesauce is great apples. I prefer to use a combination of apples, so the sauce has a complex flavor. I've tried applesauce using 1 variety or several, and a multi-variety blend wins every time. You’ll find some applesauce recipes that tell you to use only certain types or to avoid others. I don’t buy that advice. I’ve used many types and find that I do have favorites for applesauce (Yellow Delicious, Gala, Fuji, Stayman) but no one type ruins the mix. I even throw in a couple of Granny Smiths, though I know many scorn them as too tart for applesauce.
Servings – Approximately 2 cups/4 servings
Cost for batch - $2.50-5.00 (depending on cost of apples)
- 6 medium-large apples
- ¼ cup of water
- Cutting board
- Apple corer (optional) - If you're buying a corer, get one that is sturdy and made of metal. In my experience, the plastic ones are too flimsy and crack if you press to hard on them wihen pushing down to core the apple.
- Small pot with cover
- Large spoon
- Peeler (optional – if you don’t want peel in sauce)
- Food processor or blender (optional – if you want sauce to be smoother). I used an immersion blender for this batch.
- Wash and cut the apples. I used an apple corer, then cut them roughly into big chunks. The peel makes the sauce a rosier color, especially if you blend it after cooking, and I don’t mind the look or taste of peel in the sauce. Of course, you can peel the apples before you cut them. Two other “no-or less-visible-peel options” – 1) cut the apple pieces smaller so the peel on each piece will be smaller or 2) make the peel “disappear” after cooking by processing or blending the cooked applesauce.
- Put the apple chunks into the pot. Add a small amount of water to prevent the apples on the bottom from sticking. I used ¼ cup for 6 apples, but you don’t have to be exacting in that measurement.
- Cover the pot and cook on medium heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. The apples will cook down considerably. My 6 apples cut up reached almost to the top of the pot when I began cooking and they cooked down to just over 2 cups of sauce. After you turn off the heat, stir again for a few minutes and most of the chunks will disintegrate.
- After the sauce has cooled, you can process or blend it if you prefer a smoother applesauce, or if you see pieces of peel that you prefer to chop up or blend away.
Depending on what else you are serving, your tastes, and your imagination, there are many possibilities for additions or changes to the basic applesauce. Here are a few:
- Orange juice or apple cider (instead of water)
- Cinnamon, with or without sugar
- Nutmeg or cloves (try just a bit – they’re stronger tasting than cinnamon)
- Crystallized ginger
- Flavored sugar (sugar infused with ginger or vanilla)
- Ripe pears as an addition, or in substitution for, several of the apples
In addition to latkes, applesauce is a great side dish for pork dishes, and as a dessert with cookies. What variations do you like?