This recipe is better with a variety of sweet apples. Pick your favorites. Tart apples require sugar to balance the flavor. Before canning, I measure the pH of the fruit to ensure it is below 4.3. Normally applesauce is below 4.1. If it’s not, freeze it to be on the safe side. Freezing will not destroy the flavor or texture. I use a water bath of 15-20 minutes for 4 or 8 oz canning jars in addition to checking the pH.
4 lbs sweet apples: skin, core & cut into 1″ pieces
1 stick of cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
(optional 1/4 teaspoon all spice which is a balance between nutmeg and cloves)
Bring the apples to a boil with a little water in the bottom of a large flat bottom pan and then turn down to a simmer and partially cover the top to avoid spattering of the apples. Stir frequently to keep from burning. Simmer on medium heat for about an hour. You are trying to thicken the sauce by eliminating the natural water in the apple and concentrate the flavor of the spices. Some people leave the peel and cores in the apples to add more flavor, but you need to deal with them later, so I just do it before I start and feed the compost pile.
This can be put in a slow cooker on low and just left overnight. The longer it cooks the more similar to “butter” spread it will be and the flavor will deepen. It’s all up to you how much you want to cook this recipe.
If you like chunky applesauce, use a potato masher to smash the apples when you’re finished cooking. If you like smooth applesauce, use a food processor to puree the apples.
If you want more spiced up applesauce you can add 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon powder. Be careful about adding more nutmeg and allspice. This can be canned or frozen.
If you want to make this with an apple cider reduction, then you will need to add about a cup of apple cider to the original apples in place of the water and the apple cider will reduce with the apples and concentrate the flavor. This can be canned or frozen. If you already have apple cider reduced (I make it at the beginning of the season and freeze the reduction) then you will need about 1 Tablespoon of the reduced cider to mix in at the end of the process as you process the apples into “sauce”.
If you want to make browned butter applesauce, you will need to slowly cook 2 Tablespoons of unsalted butter in a separate sauce pan until it is nutty brown in color and smell (do not burn). (Some people use up to 1/4 cup of butter and add rosemary to the butter to flavor it ). Add the browned butter to the warm apples before you finish mashing or pureeing them. This should not be canned, only frozen.