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How to Make Applesauce and Apple Butter

With so many great-looking apples at the market this weekend, my mind has gone totally apple-centric. I can’t stop thinking about all the great apple desserts – pie, crisp, crunch, cobbler, turnovers…mmmmm. To keep myself from gaining 30 pounds on an all apple and butter diet, I decided to make apple butter this weekend. Hopefully it will help me hold off until Thanksgiving.

Applesauce is shockingly easy to make. Some of our local orchards sell their own sauce that made of just apples and citric acid (a preservative), but it’s fun to DIY. Making your own also allows you to season it however you’d like – sweet or savory.

It’s best to use a few different varieties of apples to keep your tastebuds guessing. This website has a great apple dictionary to help you pick the best types. I used Fuji, Mutsu, and Winesap.

Makes about 2 quarts (8 cups), but you can easily scale it up or down


5 pounds of apples
1 1/2 cups water (could be replaced by one of the add-ins below; if you use other than 5 pounds, use about 1/3 cup water per pound of apples)

A few good combinations of optional add-ins (pick any one):

  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup, 1-2 teaspoons cinnamon, pinch ground allspice, 1/2 to 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 4-5 sprigs of rosemary, 2-3 cinnamon sticks (pull the rosemary and cinnamon out of the sauce after cooking)
  • 1 cup sugar, 3/4 cup lemon juice, 2 inches of fresh ginger (grated), 3 whole cloves
  • 1.5 to 2 cups sugar, 9 allspice berries, 1 to 2 teaspoons ground ancho chiles (from Tigress in a Jam)
  • 1 cup honey, 1.5 cups cider, 1 tablespoon ground caradmom
  • Note: If you’re unsure, start with a small amount. You can always add more, but you can’t take it out!


  1. Peel the apples if you (a) want to or (b) don’t have a food mill.

  2. Slice the apples into quarters and remove the core. Drop the quarters into a large, preferably heavy-bottomed, pot as you go.

  3. Add the water and any optional extra ingredients.
  4. Simmer uncovered for 25-30 minutes or until the apples are very soft. Stir occasionally to prevent burning and add water by the tablespoon if things look dry or begin to stick to the bottom of the pan. The apples may hold their shape or they may totally distintegrate, depending on the type. They’re done when they’re easily mashable. If you didn’t peel the apples, you can fish out the peels now, if you want.

    I used my awesome peeler-corer-slicer machine for this batch, so the apple slices in this photo are much thinner than they would normally be.

  5. There are a few options once the apples have become sauce. You could leave it as is, you could mash it up with a fork or potato masher for a smoother consistency, or you could use a blender, immersion blender, food processor, or food mill for even smoother sauce. Finally, you could proceed to the next recipe to make apple butter, which is essentially a reduced, thicker, and sweeter version of apple sauce.
  6. This will keep for about a week in the refrigerator and freezes wonderfully.

Apple Butter
Makes 3 pints (6 cups)

1 batch of Applesauce


  1. Cool the applesauce slightly, remove any inedible herbs or spices (e.g. rosemary sprigs and cinnamon sticks), and blend it with a blender, immersion blender, food processor, or food mill. Aim for a totally smooth, but not runny, sauce. An immersion blender is my favorite tool for this, because you can blend right in the pot.

  2. Bring the sauce to a boil over medium heat and then simmer uncovered for another 25-30 minutes until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Stir often to prevent burning. It tends to spit, so a splatter guard is helpful.

  3. Like applesauce, this will keep for about a week in the refrigerator and freezes wonderfully.
  4. Eat on buttered bread or muffins. Use it to replace the oil in baked goods. Stir it into oatmeal or yogurt. Make a PBAB (peanut butter and apple butter) sandwich. Grab a spoon and dig in.

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