Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Rustic Applesauce

Bowl Full of Freshly-made Applesauce
Rustic Applesauce with Windfall Apples

Recipe by Robin

September heralds the apple season in many places. If you’re in the US and have an apple tree, chances are you’ve either been harvesting or wishing that you had more time to harvest. In addition, early apples often fall before they’re quite ripe, and can be full of bugs. If you’re thrifty like my family is, you don’t want to waste these less than perfect apples.

My husband tried gathering them up and cutting out the cores and bad spots (and a variety of insects), added a squeeze of lemon juice, and left them in the fridge for us to snack on. But less than ripe apples seemed to have limited a-peel (so to speak). So, with the next load of windfall apples, the volume of which required both of us to cut out insects and core, I made a rustic applesauce. This is unlike my Mom’s applesauce (recipe to come) because it contains apple skins, and is not run through a food mill, so is chunky rather than smooth.

I didn’t record the weight of the apples, but we had filled a total of 2 ½ one-gallon Tupperware containers. In practice, you can core and de-bug as many apples as fit into a large pot, add a few cinnamon sticks and 1/3 to ½ cup water and cook it down. Note that different apple varieties contain different amounts of water. Apples will also vary in “mealiness,” which will affect the texture of the applesauce. Less water is needed, obviously, for the more watery varieties. You will get to know your own apples throughout the season, and I encourage you to make your own adjustments to your ideal amount of water, cinnamon, and sugar. You could choose to skip the cinnamon sticks and add a dash or two of cinnamon at the end instead, or eliminate it entirely.

One note about burning: do not! You need to check in with the applesauce every half hour or so, stir it around, and possibly adjust the heat. You might want to check more frequently in the beginning, to be sure the water doesn’t boil off before the apples start getting soft, and towards the end, when the applesauce is getting very thick. A benefit of this is enjoying the aroma of the cooking apples at every stage of the process. Your kitchen will smell great too.

Some people make quicker cooking applesauce, but IMHO longer cooking improves both flavor and texture.

Rustic “Windfall” Applesauce
makes 10 cups

2 ½ gallons cut up apples, cores and bad spots removed
fresh lemon juice
1/3 - ½ cup water
4 cinnamon sticks
~4 tsp. sugar, optional
1-2 dashes apple pie spice, optional

Once you’ve cut the bad parts and cores out of the apples, most of your work is done. Squeeze fresh lemon over surfaces to keep apples from turning brown, especially if you can't make the applesauce right away.  Leave the peels on. Allow 2 ½ - 3 hours cooking time total. Use an 8 quart pot for 2 ½ gallons of apples. Put apples in pot and add water and cinnamon sticks, pushing cinnamon sticks below the top of the apples.

Turn heat to high till you hear water boil. This will only take a minute or two. Turn heat down immediately to medium low. Cover pot.

Every half hour or so, stir cooked apples up from the bottom and let uncooked apples fall lower into the pot. Smash the apples with the wooden spoon (once they start cooking and are soft). Stir it around and check to see it is gently cooking, NOT boiling vigorously.

Lower heat as applesauce gets thicker. Bear in mind that different apples behave differently when cooked. The mealier types will get thick quicker than the more watery types, and are less forgiving in terms of burning with too high heat. Better too little heat than too much. You’ll get to know your apples as the season progresses.

Stop cooking when it looks thick enough and apples are soft and broken up to your liking, about 2 1/2 - 3 hours total. Stir in sugar and apple pie spice to taste.

Cool before refrigerating. Enjoy hot or cold!


  1. much better than the commercial stuff, especially if you have an apple tree offering you free fruit.