The secret to delicious applesauce simply starts with good apples. Macintosh are a New England favorite. Gravenstein are a West Coast choice, which is what I used for this recipe from a beautiful orchard tucked away in Anderson Valley, California where the air is so crisp and fresh this time of year.
I make a large batch of applesauce at a time and use the classic recipe from my cousin, who lives in Vermont and has been making applesauce for decades on a dairy farm where good food makes the world go round. You just need apples, water, a large pot, and a food mill. The food mill is well worth having in your pantry as it does all the work for you–you don't even have to peel the apples. The peel is what gives this rustic sauce the natural pink color, and the pectin in the peel lends the velvety texture. I got my food mill from the local hardware store, and I also use it to make creamy mashed potatoes.
Here is Mary's provincial recipe shared from a real Vermont farm kitchen. And, if you are a Vermonter, you know that everything happens in the kitchen.
Mary's Homemade Applesauce
- loads of fresh apples, washed and preferably Macintosh, Cortland, or Gravenstein
- water, just enough (about a cup and more if needed)
- sugar to taste, only if needed at the end
- ground cinnamon to taste (that's my addition but not necessary in Mary's opinion)
1. Cut apples into quarters and core out seeds.
2. Plop apples into a pot large enough to hold the apples and add about a cup of water, just to help things along.
3. Bring to a simmer and cook uncovered until soft and mushy, stirring occasionally. Keep an eye on the apples as they cook down because you may need to add a bit more water. This is where practice makes perfect. The consistency of the sauce depends on the apples, and each year's crop is different.
4. Working in batches, put the apples through the food mill.
5. Taste and add sugar only if applesauce is too tart. Add a tad of cinnamon if you wish.
6. Store in zip bags in your freezer.
I love to heat up some applesauce on a cold January morning or served next to "George's Pork Chops" (recipe to come soon).