From Tree to Table ~ Homemade Applesauce

From Tree to Table ~ Homemade Applesauce

My friends and I are having an Around the Harvest Table blog party, with each of us contributing a dish to the fall-themed dinner, and you’re invited! At the end of this post are links to the other dishes, making it easy to visit each of them.

The Challenge

I had a hard time deciding what to contribute. Not only did my dish need to be something I grew, it needed to go with everyone else’s dishes, too. I finally settled on homemade applesauce. Applesauce goes well with many other foods, it’s good for you, and children usually love it.

Join us Around the Harvest Table!

If you know me, then you know that I get a kick out of cooking and serving what I grow. At mealtimes I often proudly tell my family which dishes came from our little homestead, and if they all did, then that’s especially exciting!

In City Girl, Country Woman, I shared a painting that I bought while visiting Seattle many years ago. It has always hung where I could look at it, usually by our dining table. The painting contained elements I loved, including an apple tree. When we moved to our homestead ten years ago, I couldn’t wait to start an orchard.

Among the first trees we planted were our apple trees.

City Girl, Country Woman ~ Living the Homesteading Dream

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A Lesson in Patience

Planting fruit trees is just the beginning. They take many years before they start producing, so it’s a lesson in patience. Fall is the perfect time to plant trees, so if you’d like to make your own applesauce, apple butter, apple cider, apple pies, etc, you can get started now.

Beautiful Apple Blossoms

Those first beautiful blossoms are so exciting! Our trees started producing several years ago. All summer long I watched the fruit grow and anticipated the harvest.

We have three different varieties: Arkansas Black, Enterprise, and Royal Gala. We purchased them from Stark Bros and have been very happy with them.

Tip: Apple trees need to pollinate each other. Stark Bros explains all of that and gives recommendations to help you choose. That’s why I would recommend buying from them, versus picking up a few from a garden center.

The apples’ progress at thinning time.

The Joy of the Harvest

I can tell you that there’s nothing like harvesting your own fruit! I found it a bit of a relief, too, because I didn’t have to worry about the raccoons getting it before I did. I wanted the apples to be as perfectly ripe as possible. Finally, when I could smell the apples, and they released easily when I gently tipped them, I knew it was time.

I loved the way those sun-warmed apples felt in my cupped hands!

This is a rather simple and humble recipe. If you’ve never made your own applesauce, you’ll be surprised at how simple it is. In fact, it’s more of a guide than a recipe, because it’s highly customizable.

Let’s Make Applesauce

Start with some apples. Homegrown are best, but you can also buy them at a farmers market, a you-pick orchard, or your favorite grocery store. You can make as much applesauce as you want, but I’d start with at least one large apple per person. If the apples are small, then you might double that.

Fresh-picked Arkansas Black apples

To get ready, I put some water in a bowl. Maybe about 1/4 cup per four apples. Then I add about a teaspoon of lemon juice to help slow browning.

To prepare the apples, you have options. You can use an apple peeler like this Johnny Apple Peeler, or an apple corer/slicer. I often enjoy peeling by hand. It seems to be therapeutic. It just depends on how many I have to do.

I quarter the apples, cut out the core, peel and chop coarsely and toss in the bowl. Occasionally I stir the chopped apples to distribute the lemon water.

Chopped apples, tossed in lemon water.

When the apples are all chopped, I put them into a saucepan over medium-high heat until it gets going, then reduce it to medium. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking and burning.

From Tree to Table ~ Homemade Applesauce
Simmer chopped apples over medium heat for approximately 30 minutes.

How long it takes will depend on the variety of apple, and how finely they’re chopped. After 20-30 minutes or so, they’ll start to break down as you stir them. I use my spoon to mash them further, but you could use a fork or a potato masher. If they’re still too firm, then just let them cook a little longer.

From Tree to Table ~ Homemade Applesauce
Apples will break down and be easy to mash after about 20-30 minutes.

Once the apples have cooked down, taste them and decide if you want to add some sweetener such as sugar or stevia.

Then add any other flavorings that you’d like:

  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract.
  • a sliver of butter.
  • a sprinkling of ground cinnamon to taste.

Fine or lumpy?

I like the homemade feel of lumpy applesauce, but if you prefer a smoother texture, or are making baby food, then you might want to put it through a food mill or food processor.

Hot or cold?

Do you prefer your applesauce hot or cold?

It’s easy to get it started and let it simmer while you’re making the rest of the meal. When it’s finished, I just turn off the burner and let it sit until I’m ready to put it on the table. By then it’s lukewarm.

If you want it cold then you’ll need to make it well ahead of time to allow for chilling

Put your fresh, homemade applesauce in a pretty serving bowl, and it’s ready for your table.

 

From Tree to Table ~ Homemade Applesauce

Ingredients

  • 4 apples
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • Sugar or stevia to taste (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

Instructions

  • In a bowl or saucepan, put 1/4 cup of water, and 1 tsp of lemon juice.
  • Peel, core, and coarsely chop the apples.
  • As you chop them, put them in the water/lemon juice mixture and stir to coat to prevent browning.
  • Put the saucepan over medium-high heat to start boiling, then reduce heat to medium.
  • Simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until apples start to break down and mash easily.
  • For a smoother texture, run through a food mill or food processor. (Optional)
  • Add sweetener, cinnamon, and/or vanilla, as desired.
  • Serve immediately, or chill to serve later.
  • Enjoy!
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This post is part of “Around the Harvest Table,” a fall-themed dinner by a group of homesteading bloggers. We’ve put together a farm-to-table meal using the harvest from our homesteads. I hope you’ll visit all the posts listed below where each of my friends is sharing a recipe utilizing their harvest.

Happy fall, y’all!


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Comments

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  1. Spring Lake Homestead

    I used to dislike lumpy applesauce, but now I enjoy it… if it’s warm. Otherwise it’s gotta be fine. I love the story you shared!

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  2. Kathi

    We bought our apple trees from Stark Bros too. I love applesauce but haven’t made it in several years, and the apples are just about ripe so I think it’s time I make some. It was fun putting this #AroundTheHarvestTable project together, wasn’t it?!

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  3. Vickie

    Lumpy applesauce with just a touch of lemon zest and fruity honey! Yummm! We just picked our first three apples from our “teenage” apple tree. They weren’t completely ripe, but a bird had already pecked into one of them, so we went ahead and picked. Those were our Grannys. Our Honeycrisp hasn’t had any apples yet, but we are patiently waiting!

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  4. apronstringsotherthings

    there is something so very satisfying about fresh, warm applesauce (not to mention the homey aroma that fills your home while cooking!) Seeing this reminds me I do not have to make large batches for canning or freezing – thank you for sharing your tips! We are off to do some applepicking tomorrow so I imaging we’ll have a pot simmering soon.

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      Michelle Curren

      Oh, you’re right about the aroma! I really haven’t canned it yet. So far I prefer freezing the apples so I can use them for different things. There’s just something about the idea of fresh applesauce (or apple-whatever).

I'd love to hear what you have to say!