With a pile of apples that big, you had to know it was coming. This recipe for applesauce almost isn’t a recipe at all, since it only has three ingredients, one of which is water. But I really really like its simplicity, as well as the taste of the final product.
For this batch, I used honeycrisps because that’s what’s available here right now in large quantities, but a mix of apples (such as Empire or Jonagold, with a Granny Smith or two thrown in for tartness) would also work. I made a very large quantity, but you can make it with 6-8 apples in a regular saucepot, or 25-30 apples in a huge stockpot. I also leave the skins on, which I like, but you may prefer to core and skin them before cooking (see recipe for photos of an easy way to core without an apple-corer).
As always, there are a few other things you could throw in if you choose. In the past, I have enjoyed the addition of a few twists of fresh black pepper and/or a spring of rosemary or thyme. Neither of these additions, nor the salt in the recipe below, make the sauce taste savory, but they do enhance its natural flavors, and make it more versatile. Such as if you want to eat it with a pork loin or something along those lines.
I also recommend striking up a conversation with a grower at your local farmers market, and asking if he or she would sell you seconds (perfectly good apples that aren’t quite pretty enough to sell for full price from having a few bruises or dark spots). This will make your applesauce endeavor vastly more affordable.
Apples, cored and diced*
Water, enough to cover the apples once they are chopped and in the pot
*Quantity notes: the sky (and your pot capacity) are the limits, but 6-8 large apples is the minimum you’ll want to use, so they can simmer and get saucy. For the salt, for a small sauce pan with 6-8 apples, start with a scant 1/4 tablespoon or a few pinches. With a big stock pot, start with a 1/2 teaspoon, and add more to taste.
Core and dice the apples and put them in your saucepan or stockpot. Turn your stove on medium-high heat, and add enough water to cover the apples. This can be a little tricky since the apples float a bit, but be sure to leave at least an inch of room at the top of the pot.
Bring pot to a low boil, and reduce heat to medium or medium-low. Let the apples simmer, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften, then breakdown a bit, and finally begin to turn a light golden brown. This could take 30 minutes for a small pot, or 90 minutes for a large pot. Add the salt when the apples have softened, but before they begin to darken in color.
At this point, you could process the applesauce in a foodmill, or smash it with a potato masher to make it smoother.
Optional step: Reserve 2-4 apples at the beginning. About halfway through the simmering process, core and dice these additional apples and add to the pot. Adding them later in the cooking process will mean they will cook a little bit less, adding more of a chunky quality to your sauce.