My brother and sister-in-law currently live on the farm where I grew up. I miss many things about the farm…
- the south-facing window in the house, which provides the best spot to take a nap in the sun
- the grove to the north that provided many adventurous walks and “treasure” hunts
- the towering maple trees that were perfect for climbing
- and probably the greatest apple tree ever
The apples were not the kind you just wanted to pick and eat on the spot. These apples reigned as the primary ingredient for apple crisp, apple cake, apple pie and fresh applesauce.
Luckily, this tree still stands and every year my mom labors to make and freeze as much pure applesauce as possible. Her great-grandchildren now benefit from her hard work. Okay … so they aren’t the only ones. My family and I raid her freezer whenever we are there as well. It’s SOOOOOO good!
It’s not hard to make applesauce, if you are using perfect apples. The reason hers is so incredible is that she uses the worst apples … those that have fallen to the ground and been bruised and need more cleaning than those picked directly off the tree. She has always been a champion for the underdog. These apples require no sugar (she may add a little if she feels it might be too tart). I have made it with her enough times to make a reasonable replica of hers. I am not quite to her level … I am not as industrious as she is. But there is always next year.
All you need to make your own is:
- A Crock-Pot
- Apples (any kind)
- Fresh Lemon Juice (optional)
- Pinch of Salt
Almost-Mom’s Homemade Applesauce
Wash, quarter and core 3 pounds of Jonathan apples (no need to peel, the red peel gives the applesauce a beautiful pink color). Pour 1/2 cup water in the bottom of a crock-pot and add apples. Squeeze half a lemon over apples and sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon of salt. Stir. Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours. Applesauce is done when the apple peel comes off the wedges and the apple smashes easily with a wooden spoon. Discard the pieces of peel that remain. Press the mixture through a sieve for an extra-smooth texture.
This recipe makes one quart of applesauce. For reference, a snack pack of applesauce is typically 4 oz., so this recipe will make eight 1/2-cup servings.
Any apples will work in this recipe but different apples will produce different textures and flavors. Granny Smiths will be more tart and will probably have to be cooked longer as they are a firmer apple. A mixture of apple types will work too. After all, most of us do not have that awesome apple tree in our backyard and sometimes it’s the middle of winter and you just want a really good bowl of applesauce.
Cook’s Note: When I made the applesauce above, I strayed from my mom’s process (yep … dumb idea). I decided not to remove the peels and, instead, blend them into the sauce. I grabbed my immersion blender and pureed it until smooth. Or, at least, until I thought it was smooth. It wasn’t. The flavor was great but the texture was off. That one little step … lesson learned.
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