Once you make your own homemade applesauce, you’ll wonder why more folks don’t do the same. It’s way better than anything store bought and barely takes any effort at all. Plus, you’ll have lots of applesauce to use throughout the year for snacks and side dishes. Pull out a jar and serve as an accompaniment to your roasted chicken. Cook it atop your pork chops. Add a spoonful, warmed to vanilla ice cream. Or use it as a healthy baking substitute when recipes call for oil.

You probably have apples piling up in your fridge drawer. A Honeycrisp here, a Granny Smith there. Maybe even a few you’re not sure of — those are all great for applesauce! There is no right or wrong combination of apples. Some folks like to stick with a few favorites, but I think applesauce is a great time to clear out whatever you have on hand. Why make an unfussy recipe fussy?

The first thing you’ll need to do is wash, core and peel about 12-14 apples. This can be done with an apple peeler or by hand. You’re looking to save as much flesh as possible, so do whatever works for you. Chop those apples roughly and add to the crock pot.

Next you’re going to add 5 teaspoons of brown sugar. You can use regular white sugar, but I like the color the brown sugar adds. Maple syrup is also a good substitute here. Cut a nice thick strip of lemon peel (about 2 inches long and an inch wide) and add to crock pot. Then squeeze the juice of the lemon over top the apples. Toss in 2 cinnamon sticks and about 3 teaspoons of ground cinnamon, and set crock pot to high for three hours.

You can get creative with your applesauce. Add nutmeg, allspice or ground cloves if you like it with some spice. If you want it to taste like pure apple, don’t add anything.

Stir the apples occasionally and notice them start to breakdown.

After three hours, remove the cinnamon sticks.

Finally, you can take two different approached depending on your preferences. If you like it chunky, use a potato masher, a fork, or even a whisk, to break up the apples by hand. If you prefer smooth applesauce, place an immersion blender directly into the crock pot and beat purée until smooth. You can also transfer the cooked apples in small batches to a food processor to achieve a silky texture.

If you want to continue on and can the applesauce, keep it hot in the crock pot while you prepare the jars. Put them in a pot of boiling water for a few minutes to warm them. Remove and funnel in hot applesauce. Wipe the seal, twist on the lid, and place back in boiling water. The air will escape in the jar in the boiling process causing the lid to suction down tightly creating an airtight seal.

Your jars will be ready for storage after cooling.

Crockpot applesauce 

Makes about 2.5 quarts

Ingredients

  • 12-14 apples, peeled and cored and chopped
  • 1 strip lemon peel
  • juice of 1 small lemon
  • 5 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 cinnamon sticks

What you’ll need

  • 3 gallon crock pot
  • Large canning pot or 12 quart pot
  • canning jars with 2-piece lids
  • a ladle
  • canning funnel
  • timer
  • tongs/ jar lifter
  • spatula
  • clean, moist towel
  • cooling rack

Directions

1. Put all ingredients in crock pot and set to high for 3 hours.

2. Stir the apples occasionally.

3. Remove cinnamon stick after 3 hours.

4. Using an immersion blender for a smooth texture, purée. For a chunkier texture, mash with a whisk.

Canning Directions

6. Fill a 12 quart pot with about 7.5 quarts of water and bring to a boil.

7. Gently place clean glass canning jars in boiling water to warm them for about 5 minutes.

8. Remove jars from water using tongs, and remove lids.

9. Using a funnel, fill jars with hot applesauce, leaving about 1/2 inch of space at the top.

10. Wipe the rim of the jar with a damp towel to remove any food stuck that could prevent a proper seal. Secure lids on each jar.

11. Place filled jars in boiling water bath for about 20 minutes. You may be able to hear the lids pop during this time — that means they’ve sealed properly. If you don’t hear the pop, the jars could still be okay. Just make sure the top of the lid doesn’t have any give to it.

12. Place on a rack to cool before storing.