One weekday last month Tim came home with a basket filled with fresh red apples. Taking advantage of the extended weekend, we spent the better part of Labor Day making and canning a new season's worth of homemade applesauce and apple butter.
Growing up with the grocery store version of applesauce, I never knew how simple it can be to make at home. Requiring only 2 additional natural ingredients (neither of which is sugar) in combination with your favorite apple variety — the entire process takes less than hour, can be made in a single pot over the stovetop and will leave your home filled with the wonderful aroma of fall. This is absolutely my favorite method for making homemade applesauce and we look forward to simmering fresh new batches each autumn.
What does one do with a large batch of homemade applesauce? We like to use it as a garnish for everything from pork chops to yogurt, a substitute for oil or eggs in baking, and a natural treat for our pup. It could also make for a simple natural baby food this time of year when apples are in such abundance.
- 6 sweet and crisp apples, Gala, Fuji or Honey Crisp
- Juice from 1 lemon
- 1 Tbsp cinnamon
Slice and core apples leaving the skins on, which will result and a nice pink hued applesauce. When working in large batches, an apple slicer helps to speed up the process and keep pieces uniform.
Lay the apple slices in a large lidded pot with about 1/3 an inch of water on the stovetop. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium and cover, allowing apples to steam and soften for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Once apples have softened I like to use a hand blender to puree the apples right inside the same pot. If you don't have access to a hand or immersion blender, working in batches with a food processor or stand blender will achieve the same results. Pulse the mixture until it's reached your desired consistency; we like our applesauce smooth with some chunkiness here and there.
Stir in the juice from 1 lemon and all of the cinnamon, allowing the applesauce to cool prior to storing.
This natural recipe for applesauce will keep for up to 1 week in an airtight container when stored in the refrigerator. If you're working with larger batches or want to preserve for use over the winter, canning in glass jars will keep your applesauce pantry-ready for up to an entire year.
Preserves in glass jars also make nice gift ideas for housewarmings, hostesses or teachers when paired with a string of baker's twine.
For those new to canning, Ball's Fresh Preserving is a great beginner's resource. The key is in ensuring your jars are sanitized (free from bacteria) and that the lids properly seal in place. Both are easily achievable with a couple of kitchen-helpers and properly canned food can remain in prime freshness for up to an entire year — which is worth the effort in our book!
- Large lidded pot
- Jar funnel, tongs, lid lifter + air bubble remover <----- this Ball utensil set is a great beginner set
A simple canning funnel helps quickly divide applesauce among the jars and prevent any extra from touching the jar mouth (again, this helps with proper sealing and combats any cause for contamination).
Lay the lids seal-side down over the mouths of the jars before tightening the bands around them. Lower jars in a pot of boiling water large enough to cover each by 1 inch and allow them to boil for at least 20 minutes. Using the tongs, remove and allow to cool at room temperature.
As each jar cools they will self-seal, which can be detected by a tiny (and satisfying) popping sound. You shouldn't be able to press down on any of the lids — if you can, it means the jar didn't properly seal and should be stored in the refrigerator for quicker consumption.
We typically fill as many jars as our batch of apples allow, then store the rest in an airtight container for immediate use. Over the past week we've been enjoying applesauce swirled into yogurt in the mornings and are thinking pork chops just might need to be on the dinner agenda!
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