Apple sauce, for me, falls into a food category where depending on your time, energy, interests and values, it is debatable whether or not it is worth making at home. Sure, purchasing the ingredients and making it from scratch may be cost effective sometimes, and you may feel some pride in knowing that you made it yourself, but you may also want to invest your time and energy elsewhere. There are many brands available now that feature just pureed apples and other fruit, and nothing else. Personally, I would usually prefer to spend the energy assembling, preparing and cleaning up various ingredients and appliances to make something I feel will be of better quality if I make it myself.
Having said all that, there are also lots of reasons homemade apple sauce comes in handy. We tend to purchase apples in bulk, and it is an easy way to use up those that are getting past their prime. If you like the convenience of store-bought apple sauce but dislike going through so much packaging in the form of pots and pouches, making your own might be worth the time. And finally, making your own allows you to put your personal spin on it, which is the primary reason I like to make anything.
Whatever your reasons are, if you are inclined to try it for yourself, it could not be easier: peel apples and cut into chunks, add whatever flavors you like, add water, simmer and puree. Here are a few variations that are popular at our house.
Basic Apple Cinnamon
Peel five apples of your favorite type (I like Royal Gala), core and chop into large chunks. Add to a medium sauce pan along with one cinnamon stick and a couple of splashes of water (about 1/4 a cup). Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook for about 10 minutes. The apples are ready when they are soft enough to be speared with a fork.
Remove cinnamon stick. Transfer the cooled apples to a blender or food processor and puree to your desired consistency. If you like chunkier apple sauce, you could also pulse the mixture with an immersion blender or simply mash with a fork or potato masher.
This recipe yields about 1 and 1/2 to 2 cups of sauce.
Okay, so this one might not sound like the most appealing option. But I tend to think that prunes get a bit of a bad rep, as they are delicious in cakes in other baked goods, and they add a delicious sour tang to this apple sauce. And well…maybe you’re interested in getting some into your toddler or preschooler.
Using the above method for basic apple sauce, add about 20 dried pitted prunes to the sauce pan along with the apples and about 1/2 a cup of water. Simmer until the apples are soft and the prunes have plumped up, about 10 minutes. Let cool and puree using preferred method.
Note: It is a good idea to remove the cooked prunes and lightly mash with a fork before pureeing to ensure there are no residual pits still lurking inside.
Using the basic method, add about two cups of fresh or frozen cherries to the sauce pan with a 1/4 cup water. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes, covered, until the fruit is softened (if using frozen cherries, this might take a few extra minutes. Let cool and puree using preferred method.
This version is particularly good with meat like pork or simply mixed with some plain Greek yogurt.
Using the basic method, add about a cup of fresh or frozen sliced peaches (peeled) to the sauce pan with a 1/4 cup water. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes, covered, until the fruit is softened (if using frozen peaches, this might take a few extra minutes. Let cool and puree using preferred method.
- As per usual, ingredient amounts are subject to your own preferences and can easily be tweaked.
- Amounts of water will vary, as the apples and other fruit will release a lot of their own as they cook. It is best to start with a small amount of water, keep an eye on the fruit for a few minutes, and add more water if the mixture looks too dry. Especially with frozen fruit, you will likely find in most cases there is more than enough water being released and you do not need to add more.
- If the fruit has finished cooking and you are concerned about the amount of water, drain some before pureeing.
- I like smoother apple sauce , so I tend to puree it in a regular blender. However, an immersion blender works well right in the pot and will result in less cleanup.
- Store apple sauce in a Mason jar or airtight container in the refrigerator up to a week.
- Apple sauce also freezes very well. Place in a freezer-safe container and when ready to use, thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Alternatively, pour into ice cube trays and freeze for several hours, then pop out the cubes and store in a freezer-safe bag or container. The small cubes of apple sauce can be thawed as needed in the microwave for about 30 seconds at a time.