Jars filled with Chunky Homemade Applesauce from my parents’ kitchen are the objects of our girls’ desire. As soon as a lid is popped off, the jar is emptied. It’s so good!!
When my parents stayed with us for a few days last fall, I asked them to teach us their method for making applesauce. Mom and Dad don’t follow a recipe, so I wanted to make the applesauce right alongside them and take notes. So now I can pass it down to our girls. And YOU!
I think this is the perfect applesauce because it’s sweet and tart and CHUNKY. I do not like applesauce that is completely smooth – it makes me feel like I should be sitting in a highchair with my bib on! I want to feel the apples in my mouth.
One of the secrets to a chunky applesauce is to use firm apples that hold their shape when cooked or baked. Apples that turn to mush are a no-no here. My all-time favorite apple is the Haralson, a product of the University of Minnesota. It is tart and crisp and juicy. The perfect apple for baking with and making applesauce!
I took our girls and one of their friends to a local orchard to pick Haralsons a couple weeks ago. I was giddy. There’s just something about picking your own apples off the tree. It’s so much more satisfying than plucking them from the bin at the grocery store.
And this is the reward for helpful and cheerful apple pickers. Fresh pressed apple cider and tender apple donuts covered in cinnamon and sugar are waiting for them when their work is done!
If you’ve never made your own applesauce, or even tasted the extreme goodness of homemade applesauce, you’ve truly been missing out. Aren’t you glad I took notes for you, so you can now enjoy a warm bowl of cinnamon-y apple goodness, too?! C’mon, give it a try!
- 10 lbs. apples of your choice – use 2 to 3 varieties to add flavor depth, and make sure that at least half of the apples are a variety that is very firm and hold their shape well when cooked. This will allow for the chunks in the sauce. My favorite applesauce apple is the crisp tart Haralson, developed right here in Minnesota.
- juice of half a lemon
- 2 to 3 c. sugar, or to taste
- cinnamon, to taste
*Please note: This is not a difficult recipe. But it does take time. Make sure you have a few hours blocked out to do this. And when you enlist some helpers to peel and cut the apples, it really shortens up the project time!
Fill a large pot or stock pot half-full with cold water. Stir in lemon juice. Peel, quarter, and core the apples. (I use this gadget that cores and cuts - we use it ALOT all year long - it saves so much time!) Then slice the quarters cross-wise, into ¼” to ½” thick slices, depending on how chunky you like your sauce. Thicker slices will allow for more chunks. Add apple slices to water and lemon juice mixture. When all the apples are in the pot, the water should reach about half-way up the apples in your pot. If there is too much water, pour some off. Too little? Then add some water. Don't worry about exactness. This is more a method than a recipe!
Place the pot of apples on the stovetop over medium-high heat. Add sugar and cinnamon to your liking. Start out with less sugar than you think you might want, you can always add more later in the process. My mom likes it sweet, my dad likes it tart. The sweetness is all up to YOU!
Stir the apples occasionally, making sure they aren’t scorching on the bottom of your pot. If they are scorching, turn the heat down a bit. If the mixture is lacking moisture, but the sauce isn't soft and broken down to your liking yet, add some more water. When the sauce is starting to get to your desired consistency, which will take an hour or two, take a sampling out and let it cool a bit. Taste it for sweetness and add more sugar and cinnamon if desired. When the applesauce is to your liking in both texture and flavor, remove the pot from the heat.
Store the applesauce in a large covered bowl or in jars, and refrigerate. It will keep well in the refrigerator for a few weeks. You can also freeze it in freezer-safe containers.
Or do a simple water bath canning process: Turn canning jars upside down in a wide pan with 1” of water in it and bring to a medium boil. Let the jars get hot and steamy and sanitized for 10 minutes in the boiling water. In a small pan over medium-high heat, add 1/2'' of water and the jar lids. Bring to a medium boil and sanitize for 10 minutes. Working with 1 jar at a time, fill with apple sauce, leaving 1” head space. Wipe off the rims of the jars with a clean dry towel, top with a hot lid, and screw on a ring, just finger-tight. Process in a boiling water bath, with water covering jars by 1'', for 20 minutes. Remove jars from boiling water and let them cool on a towel on the counter overnight, undisturbed. After they have been sitting for awhile, you will start hearing the jars "pop". Such a fun sound! The following day, check that the jars have sealed by pressing down in the center of the lids. If the lid pops up and down, the jar hasn’t sealed and should be placed in the refrigerator to eat within a few weeks. If the lid is sucked down and does not move, it has sealed, and can be stored for a year or so in the pantry.
To double this recipe (what I do): You will need at least an 8-quart stock pot or 2 smaller stock pots. Double all ingredients. The cooking time will increase to 2 to 2-1/2 hours if using one large (8-quart or larger) stock pot. Because you will be using more jars, you will need to sterilize your jars in batches. It's really not that much more work for double the amount of applesauce!
recipe/method handed down from my mom and dad