Cooking 101, Mom’s ApplesauceCooking 101, Mom’s Applesauce

Leland is away this weekend and has left me holding the fort, blog-wise, with instructions not to “bail on him”. He may be sensing that my enthusiasm for the blog is beginning to wane, or should I say that interest in my real life is beginning to supersede interest in keeping up with posting on the blog. I so admire you folks who have been posting interesting and unique entries for years!

Tonight I’m writing about something I make several times a week during apple season – my own applesauce. For those of you to whom this is child’s play, I apologize, but I thought there might be a few readers who have never made it themselves. I even wonder if there are a few readers who have never eaten homemade applesauce, and may even think they don’t like applesauce and aren’t interested in learning how to make it for that reason.

One of the first times I ever cooked for my husband to be, I made pork and sauerkraut, with mashed potatoes and applesauce. He said “No, thank you” to the applesauce and I just looked at him, in consternation and disbelief. He went on to explain that he didn’t like it, and then I laughed and persuaded him to try some anyway. Well, readers, the rest is history as they say. He is now an applesauce pig, and in fact has quite a discriminating palate, able to identify sauce made with different varieties of apples.

My theory, and I could be wrong but it makes sense to me, is that the reason the canned and jarred grocery applesauce is so tasteless and horrible is that the same companies who produce it also produce apple juice, and first they squeeze all the juice out of the apples and sell it as juice, then the resulting tasteless pulp is reconstituted with sugar water and sold as applesauce. That’s why it tastes like sugary, watery, sawdust. I would say it belongs in the nursery and should stay there, but I’m a firm believer in the adage that you should never feed your children food that you wouldn’t eat yourself, so I don’t think store-bought applesauce even belongs in the nursery.

Making the applesauce couldn’t be easier. What you do is wash some apples, a nice mix is some Macintosh, Golden Delicious, and Galas mixed together, quarter them and put them in a heavy, non-reactive pot with a lid. Add a small amount of water or apple juice or cider, about 1/4 cup, and turn the stove on and bring the pot to a simmer. Cover and simmer on low heat, stirring from time to time, until all the apples are very soft and have basically turned to mush. Uncover and let the pot cool down a bit.

For the next part you need a food mill. I use a Foley food mill just like the one my mother always used when I was growing up, except mine is stainless steel. You can still find them in most kitchenware stores and they are not too expensive. Place the food mill over a large bowl, one that will hold it steady. Spoon the apple mush into the mill and turn it, pushing the pulp through the mill as you turn, once in awhile giving the crank a backward spin. Keep turning the mill until you really get all the pulp out of the apple skins and they look dry in the bottom of the mill; that’s what makes your sauce thick. You may need to scrape the sides of the food mill once or twice with a rubber spatula, and scrape the underneath part off at the very end. Taste the applesauce and put a little sugar in it if you think it’s not sweet enough; it may not need any. I always add a couple of shakes of cinnamon as well.

That paragraph of explanation took longer to type than it took me to actually make the applesauce, and sounds harder than it is. It didn’t even take me five minutes to make almost two quarts of delicious sauce tonight, and now I have it sitting in my refrigerator ready to accompany pork, or pancakes, pierogies, sausages, potato pancakes, or to make applesauce cake or muffins with; the list goes on and on!


Mmm. Your apple sauce looks devine. I, too, made homemade apple sauce the other day, but mine is far more rustic.

I don’t have a food mill, so I just mash mine with a potato masher with the skins on. I add a small bit of butter, cinnamon, and sugar. Mmm. When I’m feeling rich, I top with creme fraiche.

Maybe it’s that my mom always made chunky apple sauce with skins or maybe I’m just too cheap to buy a food mill, but I love my chunky apple sauce, and it really is incredibly easy.

(and keep posting. I’d miss you if you left)

Homemade applesauce is the best, for sure. My friend Ilene tipped me off on a little addition- a very tiny squirt of lime juice. You don’t taste it per se, it just sort of gives a little flavor lift. Not necessary, but now I always do it if there’s a lime in the house.

I’m with you Kathryn. I love chunky applesauce as well as lumpy mashed potatoes. Lime sounds like an interesting addition.

I look forward to making applesauce in the privacy of my own kitchen. Today it was quite an experience making applesauce with PK students…..bless all PK teachers, especially my daughter’s PK teacher!!!! She’s got the patience of a saint. The kids had fun using the food mills though it was quite a workout since some of the apples weren’t cooked enough.

I again agree with Kathryn. Keep posting. Your columns are very interesting reads!

I agree with Kathryn and Leonora: Keep posting!

Applesauce is something I never eat and I never even consider making and I have no idea why because I really like it. I am going to pick up apples for this the next time I go to the farmer’s market. And a lime!

Kathryn and Leonora, I think folks really tend to like what they were raised on. My mother always put hers through the food mill, but my cousin makes the chunky kind, sometimes leaving the skin on, the way her mother made it. I have to confess that when I eat it I am bothered on an elemental level! I also think it’s more work because you have to do more preparation of the apples before cooking them, at least coring them, if not peeling them, whereas my way the food mill does all that for you.

Lindy, the lime does sound intriguing – I wonder how it would go with cinnamon, or don’t you use cinnamon?

Julie, just remember, no Yorks!

I’m so glad you posted about this. A lot of food bloggers, yours truly included, don’t think to post about simple things like this. And I’ve never made homemade applesauce! Can you believe? I’m inspired. I’m going to Broadway Panhandler and buying a food mill today.

For the record I was raised on applesauce made in the blender! So the whole deal turns a velvety smooth mauve. We liked to eat it hot.

" ‘When a man is served before a woman, that also means you’re welcome to leave before paying.’

I think that’s really funny, but I know some women who would be quite offended by it."

Because the very best use of feminism is the reorganization of table manners. ;>

whoops. that comment went with nello’s.

zp, are you saying that the skins were blended right along with the apples and that’s why it was mauve? I find that just cooking the apples with the peels on, even though the skin is removed by the food mill, gives the sauce a nice pinkish tinge if you use enough red apples. My mother used to add a drop of red food color to enhance the pink.

I like it warm myself but my son won’t even touch it if it’s not cold. I have to make sure I make it early enough so it gets a chance to chill before serving.

Despite the fact that I refuse to eat cold soup, such as gazpacho, because it makes my throat close up, I can only enjoy applesauce when it’s cold. That’s not true—I can only enjoy Mom’s applesauce cold. When other people make applesauce, I don’t care one way or the other what the temperature of it is, because my mind isn’t even registering it as applesauce. It’s more like apple compote, which is how most other people make it anyway.

I’ll declare right here and now that Mom’s is the best. I bought a Foley food mill on eBay today, and I’ll make an attempt to duplicate her sauce this weekend.

Yup, skins in the sauce.

Gosh, Leland, maybe you and Anne should get together this weekend and share the food mill! Good luck to both of you and let me know how the applesauce turns out. Just remember to keep cranking the mill even though it looks like you have gotten all the pulp out; there’s usually at least 1/4 cup left in there and it’s the thickest part.

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