Set up an “applesauce bar” for breakfast,
dessert or snacking. Photo courtesy U.S.
Mom always made applesauce from scratch. Her apple of choice was the McIntosh, and she cooked them with the peel. It generated a pretty pink color when strained through a food mill.
When we first had commercial applesauce from a jar (that would be you, Mott’s) at a friend’s house, we couldn’t believe the difference in flavor and texture. That is to say, Mom’s was the winner by far.
For breakfast, lunch or a healthful dessert or snack, set up an apple sauce bar with custom toppings.
We share our Mom’s stove top recipe—so easy!—as well as a slow cooker recipe from the U.S. Apple Association.
If you’re avoiding refined sugar, you can cook the apples without sugar and sweeten the cooled applesauce with a noncaloric sweetener, agave, honey, etc.
Fruit: fresh berries; dried blueberries, cranberries, cherries, raisins
Nuts, raw or toasted: almonds, walnuts
Seeds: chia, flax seeds, hemp seeds, sesame seeds
Spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice
Sweeteners: agave, honey, maple syrup
RECIPE: JOAN HOCHMAN’S APPLESAUCE
This applesauce is delicious in its natural state, but if you like to experiment you can try adding spices or lemon zest. Test your preference by seasoning half the batch after you remove it from the heat.
We easily devoured the two quarts of applesauce in a week; but if it’s too much for you, rather than reduce the recipe, stick it in the freezer. It freezes beautifully.
Ingredients For 2 Quarts
4 pounds McIntosh apples
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup sugar (add another 1/4 cup if the apples aren’t sweet enough)
Optional: 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon, nutmeg or lemon zest, or a combination
1. QUARTER and seed the apples; don’t peel. Add to a pot of boiling water that covers the apples, top the pot with the lid, reduce the heat to simmer and cook slowly, until the apples are mushy, about 15 minutes.
2. TASTE and adjust the sugar if needed. If the texture is too thick for you, add water, a tablespoon at a time, until the desired thickness is reached. After adjusting either, re-boil for a second or two to blend.
3. LET cool. Process through a food mill. (If you remove the peel before cooking, you can pulse in a food processor). Serve at room temperature and refrigerate the extra.
RECIPE: SLOW COOKER VANILLA APPLESAUCE
Ingredients For 3-3/4 Cups
3 pounds apples, peeled and cut in chunks
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 pinch salt
1. PLACE the peeled apple chunks in the slow cooker and sprinkle with sugar, lemon, vanilla and salt. Stir to mix. Cover the cooker and cook on low for 4 hours.
2. UNCOVER the cooker and use a potato masher to coarsely mash the apples. For a really smooth sauce, you can purée in a food processor or blender, or use a food mill. Be careful when handling the hot apples and juice, cover the lid of the processor or blender with a folded towel and hold it closed as you turn on the machine.
3. TRANSFER the applesauce to sterilized jars and let cool. Cover and refrigerate for up to two weeks.
McIntosh apples, Mom’s favorites for applesauce. Photo courtesy Baldor Food.
The U.S. Apple Association tells us that the United States has approximately 7,500 apple producers who grow nearly 200 varieties of apples, on approximately 328,000 acres. Nearly 100 varieties are in commercial production; the remainder are heirloom varieties grown in backyards and small-scale farming, generally sold at farmers’ markets.
The 2013 crop was estimated at 248.6 million bushels, with a wholesale value of the U.S. apple crop is more than $2.7 billion. Sixty-seven percent of the crop is grown for fresh consumption and 33% goes for processing (applesauce, pie filling, juice, fresh slices, etc.).
Apples are grown commercially in 32 states. The top ten apple producing states are, in order of size of crop:
Cripps Pink (Pink Lady)
The Top 10 apple varieties grown in the U.S. are, in order of crop size: