Honeycrisp apple sauce

The best apple sauce I ever had was from a bake sale I stumbled upon. It was farmland in every direction, and I suspect those apples went straight from a backyard tree into the jar. I've wanted to try making apple sauce at home ever since. This recipe from The Pioneer Woman is a pretty good place to start. I had to modify the recipe a little because I have only one small pan at the moment and only so many apples will fit in it. It makes a delicious apple sauce, and fills the whole house with the fragrance of cinnamon-y lemons and apples. Yum!

Fits in one 24 oz wide mouth Ball jar

Three large apples, peeled, cored, and sliced into eighths
1/4 cup to 1 cup of water, depending on how things go?
Juice of one lemon
1/4 cup brown sugar
Cinnamon, to taste (maybe 1 tsp)
Splash of vanilla extract (optional)

If I had realized how expensive Honeycrisp apples are and the whole reason why, I may have bought organic apples. But I was looking for crispy, and crispy sure is what I got.

Honeycrisp apples are large. The ones I got were like thirty percent larger than the organic Red Delicious apple I got. So if you have the budget to go with organic apples or have a smaller apple variety lying around the house or something, then you may want to include a couple more apples in the recipe.

The gist of making applesauce is: breakdown the apples into eighths and cook them until soft in whatever flavorings you prefer, then blend or puree to achieve desired texture. The amount of water you need will depend on the apple variety I suppose, and how fast the water boils off relative to how long it takes the apples to soften. I started with about a quarter cup of water in the pan, but added more as it boiled off and the apples were still not soft enough. What you don't want to end up with is a pan of apples in water, so add water sparingly as needed to keep things going. If you have a lid, covering the pan or pot and letting it simmer will make things a little easier.

I put the juice of the lemon (if you don't like it tart, try the juice of just half a lemon) and the sugar and cinnamon in with the apples to cook, and threw in a quarter of lemon and cinnamon stick for good measure. Actually, I couldn't find the ground cinnamon at first so thought I'd try a cinnamon stick instead. That didn't impart enough cinnamon flavor for my liking, so I'm glad I found the ground cinnamon eventually.

The Pioneer Woman says you are looking for the apples to be "partly broken up, partly still intact, and very soft and tender". They're just getting going in the photo above. I tend to like to undercook things, and I didn't want to end up with something mushy, so I took them off the heat as soon as they were all soft and some were starting to break down.

After transferring to the blender, I added a splash of vanilla extract for good measure. I think the lemon juice brings out all the flavors.

Going forward, I'd like to try substituting the water with apple juice or cider as The Pioneer Woman's recipe originally called for, or with a good rum. I also think any pumpkin pie spice would be good here, for example, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, or ginger.

If I start making applesauce all the time, I'll want to invest in an apple corer/peeler/slicer, but it is entirely possible to do all the prep work with basic knives (a small paring one for peeling, and a larger one for removing the core and slicing into eighths). Be careful, please!

With all the leftover scraps, I tried making apple chips. The ones that got real crispy were okay. The ones that didn't, weren't that great. I just threw them in the oven and dusted them with cinnamon. I'd recommend putting them on parchment paper to prevent them from sticking to the pan, and also maybe precooking them in butter or something to make them taste better. The apple skins were really waxy; I don't think that helped anything. Next time, I'll probably just toss them.

What's your favorite way to make applesauce, or if you haven't before, will you try this fall?

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