Chunky Homemade Applesauce
My grandmother, god bless her, loved applesauce. It didn’t matter what she was eating; she liked applesauce on the side. She asked for it in fancy restaurants — totally indifferent to the odd looks she would get from waiters — and insisted it be on the table for every holiday dinner. Up until she passed away a few years ago, my mom kept a stash of applesauce jars in the pantry so we were always prepared, should she ever come for dinner. Of course, we never made it from scratch back then, but if we had, I think we all might have understood her obsession with it. Homemade applesauce is richly flavored, tart and sweet — almost like apple pie filling — and a world apart from store-bought. I still probably wouldn’t want it with every meal (although with pork tenderloin, roast chicken or latkes, definitely!), but I would have it every day for breakfast or dessert.
Homemade applesauce is easy to make; the hardest part is peeling the apples. Traditionally, it’s made on the stovetop but I prefer to bake it. With the stovetop method, you have to add water or juice to prevent sticking; with baking, you do not, which translates to more intense apple flavor. For the apples, I like to use McIntosh with a few Golden Delicious mixed in for a more nuanced flavor. Feel free to use other varieties, such as Jonathan, Fuji, Honeycrisp, Jonagold, Braeburn, Stayman Winesap, Granny Smith, etc. — just keep in mind that super-tart apples will yield a tangy applesauce, which will require more sugar to balance the flavors.
To begin, peel, core and chop the apples into 1-inch chunks. Place them in a 9×13-inch baking dish and top with brown sugar and pads of butter. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45-50 minutes, until the apples are tender.
Using a potato masher or fork, mash the apples to a chunky consistency.
Taste and add more brown sugar if necessary. Note that no two batches will taste the same — it all depends on the apples you use. Transfer to a serving dish and add a dash of cinnamon, if desired.
Chunky Homemade Applesauce
- 4 pounds apples (about 10), peeled, cored and cut into 1-inch chunks (I like a combination of McIntosh and Golden Delicious)
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch chunks
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
- Dash cinnamon, for serving (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Place the apples in a 9x13-inch baking dish. Scatter the the brown sugar and chunks of butter evenly over top. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 45-50 minutes, tossing once halfway through, until the apples are very tender.
- Mash the apples with a potato masher or fork. Taste; if the applesauce is too tart, add more brown sugar little by little until the flavors are balanced. (Note that no two batches will ever be the same; the flavor will depend on the tartness of the apples you use.)
- Per serving (8 servings)
- Serving size: 1/2 cup
- Calories: 196
- Fat: 5g
- Saturated fat: 3g
- Carbohydrates: 42g
- Sugar: 34g
- Fiber: 5g
- Protein: 1g
- Sodium: 6mg
- Cholesterol: 11mg
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