Saucin' on you.
Credit: Sara Tane

Every now and again, making and feeding yourself something that looks eerily similar to a spoonful of baby food is good for the soul, right? That’s why there’s no time like the present to take that big basket of apples that you picked over the weekend and turn them into absolute mush, which we’ve appropriately named applesauce. Aside from the fact that it makes your entire home smell like the center of a Thanksgiving pie, the process itself is incredibly simply. If store-bought applesauce is your thing, try making it from scratch just once—you’ll likely be surprised by the ease and ability to customize.

Picking Your Apples

The beauty of making a homemade applesauce is that it’s a great way to use up a plethora of apples, because let’s face it—there’s only so many apples that you can snack on throughout the week before you start to feel like an actual horse. The other benefit of making it from scratch is that applesauce truly doesn’t discriminate; use whichever apples you like (or don’t like—you’re about to cook them down so their flavors will be less distinguishable) or have on hand. If you’re up for it, you can peel them, but you don’t have to. Personally, I can get down with some soft skins dispersed throughout my applesauce, but I also happen to be a person who is freakishly fascinated by consuming copious amounts of fiber. Do what feels right. If you’ve got a picky eater on board, you’re probably better off peeling them. As long as you cut out the core and halve them, you’ll be good to go.

Add Some Flavor

You can get as carried away as you want when it comes to mix-ins, or you can keep it simple. One cinnamon stick goes a long way, and if you’re feeling extra warm and festive, whole cloves or fresh ginger can also add a nice kick of flavor. An acidic component, like fresh lemon juice, will brighten the sauce, and a splash of vanilla extract will also drive a smooth, rich flavor, as well. If you want to add sugar, granulated or brown will do. However, if you want to leave it unsweetened and let people sweeten theirs to taste when it’s done, that’s also perfectly legitimate, too.

Just Add Water

Once you’ve got your apples and flavor options nailed down, all you need is a little water for the apples to cook in. Don’t get too caught up in measurements here—it’s not rocket science. For every pound of apples you cook, you’ll only need about a tablespoon or two of water (or apple juice for an extra sweet kick). You’re definitely not going to want to submerge your apples in water. We’re making sauce, not pasta. Combine all your ingredients in a large pot or dutch oven, cover said vessel, and cook over medium-low heat for about 45-55 minutes, depending on how many apples you’re cooking. Stir it every now and again to make sure that no apples are burning on the bottom. Once everything is soft, use a masher or a food mill (or the palms of your hands and a little bit of grit) to get your applesauce consistency of choice. It’s like peanut butter—we can debate whether creamy or chunky is better all day long.

What to Do With It

Now that you’re the proud owner of a big ol’ pot of sauce, the possibilities are truly endless. Eat it straight up like the adult-size infant that you are, smear it over a piece of toast in the morning, mix it into oatmeal, scoop it over a bowl of ice cream, or serve it alongside a hearty protein, like beef or pork. Congratulations, chief boss with ALL the sauce.

By Sara Tane and Sara Tane