Great for Babies & Big Kids of All Ages: Easy Homemade Applesauce
While it may take more than just an apple a day to keep the doctor away, these sweet, crispy, kid-friendly delights are indeed loaded with nutrition that is vital to good health—and that makes us feel saucy. Applesaucy!
Let’s begin with a little bio for our key ingredient: A great source of vitamin C and polyphenols (disease-fighting antioxidants, hooray!), apples also pack a hefty fiber punch. We’re talking digestion-aiding insoluble fiber (babies and toddlers get backed up, too, you know) plus pectin, a soluble fiber that reduces overall cholesterol levels and the risk of heart disease. That’s a boon for growing and grown bodies alike.
Much of an apple’s nutrition is contained in the skin, which makes cooking up your own sauce using unpeeled apples a smart choice. You can also cut the sugar and preservatives you might find in store-bought versions, and jazz it up with spices and other fruits or berries. Even more perks: Homemade applesauce makes a meal great for everyone in your family, from your baby who is just starting solids, to your preschooler, to you, too, parents—plus, the recipe is super simple and cheap!
Here’s how to get started:
EASY HOMEMADE APPLESAUCE
- 3 pounds of apples*
- 1½ cups water—intensify the flavor by using apple juice or cider instead.
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Optional: 2–3 tablespoons of lemon juice, plus 3 strips of lemon zest (use a vegetable peeler). These additions are mostly just for maintaining color and balanced flavor, so feel free to skip or add to taste.
- Optional: Sugar, brown sugar, honey, or maple syrup—add to taste if desired.
* Mixing a tart apple variety (like Granny Smiths) and a sweet one (like Braeburns) is your best bet for achieving applesauce with complex, layered flavor. Have a chat with your grocer if you need suggestions. Bonus points for hitting up your local U-Pick or scavenging from overloaded trees in your neighborhood!
- Wash and core the apples, and then cut them into approximately 1-inch cubes. Leaving the skins on can yield a rosy hue in the finished product.
- Transfer the cubed apples to a large pot, top with the rest of the ingredients, and give it all a stir. If you’re adding a sweetener, start with a little now and add more later if needed.
- Bring the apple mixture to a boil on high heat, and then reduce to low heat and cover. Let the mixture simmer for 20–30 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking (add more liquid as necessary). The mixture is ready when the apples are cooked through and quite soft.
- Remove the pot from the heat and, if used, remove the lemon peel. Use a potato masher to smash the cooked apples into a chunky applesauce. For a smoother snack, run the cooked apples through a food mill or purée them in a blender in small batches—you don’t want a tornado of hot apples in your face.
- Serve the applesauce warm. Transfer any extra sauce to jars and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
Get gourmet by adding other tasty fruits (blueberries, apricots, peaches, pears, cranberries, etc.) at the same time that you add the apples, or play around with spices like cardamom, ginger, or allspice.
6 WAYS TO SAUCE UP YOUR COOKING!
Homemade applesauce is delish by itself, but we also love these kid-friendly ideas for using applesauce to augment another dish:
- Serve it with a dollop of sour cream alongside Weelicious’ mashed-potato pancakes or Andrew Zimmern’s killer potato latkes for Food & Wine.
- Devour it with sour cream and maple syrup or more applesauce via Martha Stewart’s applesauce pancakes.
- Use applesauce instead of oil in many baked goods, from muffins to cakes.
- Mix a cup into homemade mac & cheese—seriously, it’s fantastic! You can also add sausage if your kid’s a fan.
- If you’re feeling ambitious, use it to make crunch-tastic granola from Two Peas & Their Pod.
- For a super special treat, serve warmed applesauce atop vanilla or salted caramel ice cream with a sprinkle of cinnamon. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm….