Thursday, April 4, 2013

Homemade Sugar Free Applesauce

I started making applesauce for my son because I didn't trust commercial applesauces to actually be healthy and sugar free, and those little jars of baby food are way overpriced for just applesauce.  And then my husband tried it, you know, just licking off the spoon while feeding the baby.  Or something.  And now I am not ALLOWED to buy the store stuff haha.  Admittedly, I sometimes add a little brown sugar to get the apples to release their juices faster and add that caramel flavor, but its really not needed and I love the taste without.  This is a rough recipe because I usually make it "till it looks right" but I absolutely hate it when people say that in recipes, so I have done my best to measure things and time things at least generally.  Feel free to tweak where needed! :-)

Homemade Applesauce

4 Lbs of Apples - a mix of varieties is fine, and even recommended as long as they cook at roughly the same speed.  Choose a bagged bulk apple to save money.  Avoid using flavorless or overly tart apples like red delicious and granny smiths.  Try McIntosh, Pink Lady, Gala, Golden Delicious, or another tasty, firm fleshed variety.
2 t cinnamon
1/2 c raisins
Paring knife or peeler
chef's knife/santoku
Large stockpot or saucepan with a lid
food processor, blender, or potato masher
containers for storage

That's it!

1) Peel your apples using a paring knife or a vegetable peeler.  I prefer a knife because I think it actually goes faster while doing a better job and giving me more control, but I do tend to waste a little more apple.  If using a knife, make sure it is good and sharp to avoid slipping and cutting yourself!  Sharp knives are WAY less dangerous!

2) Once all your apples are peeled, use your chef knife to cut them into thin slices.  Rather than coring them the traditional way (cut into fourths and cut out the core with a paring knife, then slice into tiny wedges) which makes it hard to get even slices, try my way.  Put the apple on the board and place your knife about 1/4-1/2" away from the core.  Slice away that piece.

Put the apple cut side down on the cutting board and slice the same 1/4-1/2" away from the core on each side.

Turn to one side and cut out the last chunk.
I cut into the core which leaves hard pieces in the applesauce. Ick...
Hopefully you will have cleared the core!  If not try out a little farther on the next apple.  Slice each piece into thin slices (about 1/8" or so).  Try to keep your slices even.  If you have to, it is better to cut larger slices than to have uneven slices, because they will all cook at the same rate.  If you are very unsure of slices, cube them up.  Cubes work fine, but takes a little longer to cook.
Had to show off my good slicing!
3) Preheat your saucepan/stockpot on medium.  After all the apples are sliced, toss them in the pan.  They should sizzle just a tiny bit.  Cover the pot.  Stir them every 5 minutes or so, but try to keep them covered to keep in the moisture.  If the apples are sticking to the bottom, add a small amount of water (a Tablespoon or so) to loosen them up.  You may need to add more water if you have less juicy apples, but you would be surprised at how much water the apples release, and you are just diluting flavor when you add water, so hold off unless its absolutely necessary to keep them from burning!

If you don't see any steam, add a little water to the pot.
4) Cook about 15 minutes until the apples are starting to break down.  Add cinnamon and raisins to the pot. Cover and cook another 10-15 minutes until the apples are nicely broken down and the raisins are plump.

5) Dump the apples into a food processor or blender, or leave them in the pan and use a potato masher to smash them up (they may need to be a little more tender for the potato masher... use your judgement.  This is part of that "cook it till it looks right" thing haha).  Blend or process until the apples are in small pieces or completely blended if you want to use as a first food for babies.  I leave it chunky now because my 15 month old can handle it, but when he was first starting solids I added a little water or 100% juice and pureed the heck out of it!  It is delicious warm, or you can refrigerate 5 days or so, or freeze it in portions and thaw when you want it.  Makes roughly 5-6 cups. (10-12 jars of baby food)

Just add spoon.

If you like, you can add other dried fruit, add ginger or nutmeg with the cinnamon, or add some sugar.  Play with it and make it your own!  Hope you like it!