A few years back (before we lived in Southern California), I got extremely ill on a trip to the area. We ended up heading to a friend's house, where I was miserable and couldn't keep any food down for about a day. Once I was feeling a little better, my SO and friend headed out to a local grocery store to buy something inoffensive for me to eat; they chose some generic applesauce. They put a little bit in a bowl for me to try; it was the best-tasting food I have ever eaten. It was like someone had hand-selected the most flavorful apples ever grown, mixed them with the most delicious sugar, and then used some sort of magic to top it off.
Of course by the next day the applesauce tasted just like any regular applesauce, but I've always wanted to have that perfect applesauce again, and today I came about as close as I suspect I ever will. We had about three pounds of apples just sitting around getting old, so we decided to make some applesauce with them (based on a recipe in Joy of Cooking). After a few minutes of peeling, and about half an hour of cooking, we had a pot of absolutely delicious applesauce. Since the applesauce was so good, it's this week's end-of-the-week recipe blogging post.
3 pounds apples (cored and, optionally, peeled)
1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 to 3/4 cup apple juice or cider
1 cinnamon stick (~3" long)
Scant 1/2 cup sugar (Joy reports you can also use 6 tablespoons honey)
1. Slice the apples into 1/2"-thick slices.
2. Put the apples, lemon juice, apple juice, and cinnamon stick in a pot and bring to a simmer, covered, over medium-high heat.
3. Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes (or until the apples are soft), stirring occasionally.
4. Add the sugar and stir to mix; remove the pot from the heat once the sugar is dissolved.
5. Mash the apples to whatever consistency you desire; we stirred it with a spoon until we had a coarse applesauce, but you could also mash it with a potato masher or put it in a blender or food processor for a finer applesauce.
6. Serve warm or cool (we loved it warm).
Joy of Cooking recommends using a mix of apple varieties for the best flavor; we used all Golden Delicious and it was, well, delicious. Joy says to vary the lemon juice amount with the tartness of the apples, and the apple juice amount with the juiciness of the apples; it also suggests that you can add extra flavorings if you desire (1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon ground mace, and 1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground ginger).
See the notes of this post for more information on buying apple juice.
Rombauer, I. S., M. R. Becker, and E. Becker. 1997. Joy of Cooking. Scribner, NY.