There were two kinds of applesauce in my life when I was young…
And because my grandparents lived in the middle of California’s premiere apple-growing territory, there was never actually a shortage of either type. The most abundant form of applesauce was, well, cooked apples run through a food mill. It was great. It tasted like…applesauce. Both my mom and my grandma made and canned quarts of it every year.
But then there was this other kind…
When she had extra time on her hands my grandma would forgo the quick and simple applesauce for something far more luxurious. It was chunky. It was spicy. It reminded me of apple pie, but in a bowl. As far as I know, she never canned this kind. Just made small batches of it, and then served it fresh and warm. I vowed that when I grew up, this was the only applesauce I would make.
Eventually, I did grow up and began making applesauce for my own family, and then I understood why food-mill applesauce was the mainstay. Food-mill applesauce is so EASY!
You wash and quarter your apples and toss them in your biggest sauce pot. Take out the bad spots but don’t bother with cores or peels or anything else. Add a couple cups of water (to help prevent scorching) and the juice of two lemons. I also like to add a couple tablespoons of pickling spice and a cinnamon stick. Then cook, covered, on low for about an hour, until very soft.
At this point, the apples will be really hot, so proceed with caution.
Transfer the cooked apples and juice to a food mill, (this is the one we use: Deluxe Food Strainer and Sauce Maker by VICTORIO VKP250) and run them all through. Magically, sauce pours out one side and all the skin, cores, and spices pop out the other. The sauce may then be canned or frozen, or kept in the fridge for about a week. (Don’t throw away the left-over cores and peels either. Chickens go crazy for them, or you can toss them on the compost or in the worm bin.)
Chunky Applesauce though….
Chunky is still my favorite. But there is much more to the process. For chunky applesauce, you must peel and core your apples before they go in the pot. I realize that peeling and coring apples really doesn’t qualify me for any kind of medal, but we make loads of applesauce and peeling and coring that many apples really does feel like an act of valor. Once again, chickens, worms, and compost all love apple peels and cores so don’t send them to the landfill. (My small-size people also love peels and run around yelling “I’m eating worms!” when I give them the long strips.)
Once peeled, quartered, and cored, you toss the apples in the pot…
This time, along with the water and the juice of two lemons, you add some ground cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves. If you wanna go really crazy, also add half of a vanilla bean sliced in half. Simmer 30-60 minutes or until very soft. If you are super impatient, you can also pop them in the instant pot for ten minutes on manual. Stir the applesauce just enough to gently to break up the apples and can, freeze, or just eat it all~preferably before it gets cold.
But eventually I wondered: Could I have the best of both Applesauce worlds?..
Thus my hybrid kinda-chunky-spiced-just-right-applesauce was born. (I know, it’s a ridiculous name. If you have suggestions, let me know in the comments.) For each 20 lb box of apples I quarter 15 lbs and proceed as for food-mill applesauce. Then I take the remaining 5 lbs. and make chunky applesauce. Once the big batch is run through the food mill, I stir in the apple chunks and can it up. Like magic, I have quick and easy apple-pie-in-a-bowl. Two 20 lb batches get our family of six through the winter and early spring until we have fresh fruit again.
Until next time!
- 6 lbs Apples Mixed Varieties
- 3 tsp Lemon Juice
- 1 tsp Cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp Cloves
- 1/2 tsp Allspice
- 1/2 tsp Ginger~freshly grated
- 2 1/2 cups Water
Peel, quarter and core 2 pounds of apples ~ do not discard peels.
Place apples in small saucepan and add 1/2 cup of water, 1 tsp lemon juice, and the spices.
Simmer on low heat about 30 minutes or until tender and beginning to fall apart.
Quarter remaining 4 pounds of apples.
Place in a stockpot with the peels from the first batch of apples, 2 tsp lemon juice, and 2 cups of water.
Cover and simmer on low heat until tender and beginning to fall apart ~ about 1 hour.
Run the second batch through the food mill **the applesauce is very hot, use caution**
Stir the apples from the first batch into the second and eat it while it's still warm ~ or keep in the refrigerator for about a week or you can freeze or can it.
I work in 20 lb batches and get about 7 or 8 quarts per batch. To make a large batch peel, core and quarter 5 pounds and increase lemon juice to 1 1/2 t, and spices to 1 1/2 t each. Quarter remaining 15 pounds, increase lemon juice to 1T and proceed as above. Cooking time may increase slightly.
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