Every autumn I end up with way more homegrown heirloom apples than I can eat. One of my favourite ways to preserve some of those delicious apples is making applesauce. In this article I will show you a really simple, foolproof recipe for a healthy homemade applesauce.
It only requires one ingredient – apples. It is free from any added sugar (there is no need; apples are already sweet), so it is for sure a healthier option compared to the traditional applesauce.
How to make sugar-free applesauce at home
Making this tasty and healthy applesauce will be as easy as this:
- chop the apples
- blend them into a smooth purée
- cook them
- transfer the applesauce to clean sealable jars.
Which apple varieties to use?
Honestly, any apples will do! That is what I love about this recipe – whichever apples you have in abundance this year, feel free to use them. Naturally, sweeter varieties will give you a sweeter result, so that is the only thing to keep in mind.
Since I get many homegrown apples every year from my friends who have orchards, I usually end up mixing at least four or five different sorts.
They are all heirloom varieties that grow in the continental part of Croatia. Usually someone’s grandparents planted them many years ago, and a lot of times we don’t even know which exact apple varieties we have.
Homemade applesauce is already easy, but let’s make it completely hassle-free with a couple of useful tips.
Blending the apples
Not the biggest fan of chopping, peeling and removing seeds from the middle? Me neither; I usually have things I would rather do.
That is why I got this genius idea that is a real time saver – it is particularly useful when you have a ton of apples ready to go bad by tomorrow morning.
Applesauce will need to be mashed anyway, so why not just blend the apples before cooking?
I use a high-speed blender or a strong food processor to blend the apples together with their seeds and peels. That way you won’t need to throw anything away. And besides, peels and seeds are packed with naturally occurring pectin, which will thicken the sauce when you cook it.
Cooking in a closed pot
One thing that used to annoy me a bit was the mess that a huge pot of boiling applesauce can make (such big quantities love to splash around as the sauce boils), as well as the constant need for stirring it to prevent it from sticking to the pot.
Once I started to cook the applesauce in a closed pot over the lowest possible heat, all my troubles disappeared.
I literally take the biggest pot that I have around, fill it with blended apples, cover with a lid and put it on my stove over that tiny fire that I normally only use to make a single-portion turkish coffee.
Let the applesauce boil super slowly in a closed pot, and you won’t have to worry about sticking or splashing. You can stir it every ten minutes or so, but you can be relaxed about it. When cooked like this, It normally takes an hour to cook (even longer for a bigger batch).
You will know that the applesauce is cooked when it starts looking really creamy and smooth, with a homogeneous consistency (no juice separating from fibre).
Using lemon juice
If I had some sweeter apples this year, I would have also used some lemon juice. It is good to prevent oxidation (keeps the apples from turning too dark in colour), but it also helps pectins do their thickening magic.
It is not absolutely necessary, but it is good to know in case you need it. I have to admit that a lot of times I just skip the lemon juice and just cook the blended apples as they are. The thing is, when you blend raw apples, they already change colour really quickly, so it is not that big of a difference.
Adding some similar fruits
This year I actually added a couple of quinces and pears to my batch too, because they were also in the basket that my friend brought from her orchard. I love how pears and quinces add some extra flavour to the applesauce.
How to use applesauce?
There are many ways to use homemade applesauce. It can be eaten just as it is, combined with many sweet or savoury dishes, added to sandwiches instead of a dip… Since this one is made without any added sweeteners, kids can enjoy it too!
Here are some recipe ideas that include homemade applesauce:
- Make this juicy chocolate cake with spelt flour (applesauce is one of its main ingredients);
- Put some applesauce in your chia breakfast bowl;
- Enjoy on a slice of homemade bread instead of jam, together with some homemade hazelnut butter;
- Combine it with some naturally fermented coconut yoghurt, granola and cinnamon;
- Have it with these fluffy oatmeal pancakes;
- Spread it on these delicious spelt flour crepes.
- 3 kg apples
- Juice of 3 lemons (optional)
- A couple of pears and quinces (optional; they will enrich the flavour)
- Cut the apples into medium-sized cubes. You don’t need to remove any skins or seeds.
- Put the apple cubes into a blender or a food processor. If you are using lemon juice, you can squeeze it in.
- Blend until you get a smooth purée. It took me three or four times to blend all the apples in my blender (it is better to do it like that than to overload your blender).
- Transfer the apple purée to a large pot.
- Cover the pot with a lid and put it over the lowest heat you have.
- Stir the apple purée occasionally to help it get to the boiling point more evenly.
- Now let it simmer in the covered pot for about an hour over the lowest heat.
- Stir the applesauce occasionally (every ten minutes or so) to prevent any apple purée from sticking to the bottom. If your heat is a bit higher, you’ll probably want to stir it more frequently. After about an hour you can start checking the consistency of the applesauce to see if it’s done.
- After an hour or two (depending on how wide your pot is and how much heat you used), your applesauce should look smooth and creamy, with no liquid separating from the apple fibre. If it looks like this, it is done.
- You can remove it from the heat and transfer into clean glass jars.
- Once cooled down, store the sealed jars in the fridge.
- This time I used a couple quinces and pears together with apples; they gave the applesauce a really nice aroma. I didn’t use any lemon, because many of the apples were already sour.
- Blending the fruits will work the best if you have a high-speed blender, as it will completely grind the seeds and everything will turn really smooth. It should also work in some regular blenders; you may need to add a little bit of water in that case. The added water may make the cooking time a bit longer.
- In this post I described how to sterilise glass jars and lids to save your fruit preserves.
- Homemade applesauce should last for at least a week or two in the fridge in sealed jars (probably even longer, but I haven’t tried it yet since I usually use it up and give it away to friends pretty quickly). An opened jar should probably be spent within four or five days (you will be able to see, taste or smell if the flavour or texture have changed).
- Enjoy your homemade applesauce straight from a jar, or combined with some sweet or savoury dishes.