A Fall Ritual – Making Grandma’s Applesauce

Grandma’s applesauce has been a part of my “cooking life” for a very long time and she always used Cortland apples to make this special treat. Some of the favorite ways we enjoyed it when I was younger was as a dip for danish or cinnamon rolls. There is nothing better than a buttered piece of toast followed with a generous layer of applesauce.

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2016 canned applesauce: 1 bushel = 18 pints and 4 quarts – I know Grandma would be pleased that I have been making her applesauce for so many years and that so many people (especially the guys for some reason) have enjoyed her simple, but delicious recipe.

The color comes from the apples’ skin and the long and slow cooking process. There are no spices and  no added sugar besides the apples’ natural sweetness. It may have the color of apple butter but typically apple butter has sugar and other spices added to it. Funny, when I made apple butter once no one cared for it.

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Nowadays, people don’t seem to spend time on canning but if you have a big garden like I use to have I don’t know how I could have preserved all those veggies having only a freezer. At one time I had an upright freezer and two small freezers in my two refrigerators and still did a lot of canning and other means of preserving my garden’s goodies.

I have been known to order Cortlands from New York (once or twice) when they were not available here in Michigan due to the weather – I never substitute not with my applesauce! Now, apple desserts are another thing as I prefer Northern Spy but you can only get them a certain time during the Fall so substitutions such as Granny Smith are always a good alternative.

Cortlands are a beautiful apple; juicy, red and big like the 9 oz. one below. It has a sweet-tart flavor and is an older American variety.  It was one of the first varieties developed from the popular McIntosh and Ben Davis apples. When there was a big demand (gifts and such) I processed 2 bushels; but for a number of years now I am down to 1 bushel which is still quite a lot. The applesauce does keep for as long as two years when it has been canned.

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Be aware though that making this special applesauce requires a couple of days; processing, cooking and finally canning in my pressure cooker. If I do not have enough to make a full load (7 quarts or  pints) I will freeze some. My kitchen is always a disaster with sticky dishes, counter tops, stove, floors and even me! I do my best to be neat but there is always a big clean up.

I use my applesauce not only just to eat alone as a side dish with pork or ham, or spread on toast, but in many recipes. As it is unsweetened and no spices added to it this applesauce is very healthy and adds great flavor and moisture. The apples are delicious eaten fresh, paired with cheese and always good in a salad. I also love to make cinnamon ornaments but I have to admit I don’t use my homemade applesauce. Search applesauce for recipes…

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See Applesauce From Scratch and Grandma’s Applesauce for more information.

I quarter and core each apple and place them in my largest saucepans. I barely submerge them with water, while pressing them down, and cook until they are soft and mushy, turning and stirring the apples occasionally so they all cook the same.

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Once they are soft I process them through my old Victoria Strainer (water and all) – this piece of equipment is essential to have. They do make a motorized version but I like the exercise LOL! The main parts are the body including clamp assembly; hopper (big white cupped thing fits into the top of the body) where the softened apples go and you use a wooden plunger to push the apples through while you are turning the handle; a spiral which fits into the screen assembly and where the apples come through; the peels one way and the yummy apple flesh another.

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I process the peels through the screen assembly, maybe 3 times to get that “pink” color from the skins. There is very little waste…

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A bushel of apples is simmering in my largest saucepans for 6+ hours, stirring frequently to prevent the bottoms from scorching.

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I am sharing my Grandma’s recipe with everyone at Fiesta Friday #143 hosted by Angie. Please stop by and say hello to Maggie @ https://spooninasaucepan.com/ who is one of the co-hosts this week as well as myself, Judi https://cookingwithauntjuju.com/2016/10/26/a-fall-ritual-making/.

56 thoughts on “A Fall Ritual – Making Grandma’s Applesauce

    • Thanks so much Ronit – hard to believe I have been making it for 40? years 🙂 As it cooks for a number of hours the flavor is intensified and really brings out the natural sweetness of the apples. It is most definitely a labor of love for my Grandma and my family 🙂

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    • Grandma canned this a lot differently and I have been lucky to have some modern conveniences like the pressure cooker and strainer. She was a terrific cook and even sold a number of things she made to help her family financially. I still can picture her in the old-fashioned kitchen… ❤

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    • Thanks Lynne – this is one special memory I will always have of my grandma. She was quite the cook and enjoyed cooking like I do. I wish I would have saved her old vintage bluish canning jars with the zinc lids. I only used them for storage and when we moved (and downsized) I donated them.

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  1. Pingback: Fiesta Friday 143: Warm Spicy Butternut Squash Couscous Salad with Pistachios | Spoon in a Saucepan

  2. I love fresh, homemade apple sauce. The stuff from the shop always has added sugar and spices, which obscure the taste of the apple. I do love the look of this, as it looks so much like the stuff my mum makes every fall!

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    • Me too Matt as there is no comparison between the stuff stores sell and what I make. I’m glad your mom makes something similar as homemade really brings out the apples’ flavor without additional sugar or spices!

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  3. I love homemade applesauce and that this recipe isn’t loaded with sugar. I’ve never used Cortland apples since we don’t seem to get them here. Have you taught a family member to make this applesauce so the tradition continues? I used to can but I know my children would never even consider it. Thank you for co-hosting this week. There are some yummy recipes.

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    • I’ve never had this applesauce any where else – it’s special! Unfortunately, no one is interested in canning right now. The recipe and procedures will be around in the family should any one want to carry on this tradition. I’m a little late to the party because of a big college football game yesterday. We won by the way – GO BLUE!

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  4. Best post, ever, Judi! My Grandma made applesauce, too, from their own trees, but I don’t know if she ever did much canning. At least not while we were children. I loved watching the process and helping out!

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  5. Your apple basket reminded me of my trip to an apple orchard in Cedar Rapids!!! Had so much fun picking them fresh off the tree. All the jars of applesauce look so tasty!!

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  6. WOW! Judi this sounds amazing and how lovely of you to share this with us. I’ve never done any canning myself, and it sounds like a process, but you make it sound like a lot of sticky fun! This applesauce sounds divine and so versatile. I love that it’s pretty much pure apple 🙂

    It’s fun co-hosting with you! I hope you are recovered from your tailgating party and are ready for Hallowe’en?

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    • Thanks Maggie – as the applesauce cooks down it splatters everywhere and then when it goes through the strainer it squirts out everywhere. My applesauce is all apples nothing else! Lots of good posts this week and yes I am looking forward to all the Trick or Treaters tonight 🙂

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      • Haha! You are really good at describing what happens and gave me a nice giggle 🙂

        Hope you got lots of trick or treaters – we got one – an all-time low!

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      • WOAH! That’s a huge number! We’ve never had that many! Last year we got around 15-20 but our average is around 10. It’s still disappointing when they don’t turn up though – and one of our regulars never came so that makes it even more disappointing!

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  7. The apple sauce looks amazing! I love canning and thank you for sharing this with us! I was just thinking of apple sauce this morning! being late to the party I just picked this up! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I love hand me down recipes. Your grandmother sure passed down a winner in this applesauce. It makes it all the more appealing as it is cooked in its natural juices and sweetness. I hope you’re enjoying a beautiful Fall in Michigan. It has been pretty late for us, but we have something to look forward to I guess. Yesterday’s temps were in the high 80’s. Go figure!

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    • Thanks so much Loretta – I have a few special recipes from my Grandma and the applesauce is the best. I remember her vintage bluish canning jars with the screw on zinc lids (I donated them unfortunately when we moved 12 years ago). Wish I would have kept a few… The weather has been crazy here too – 50’s today and I think they said low 70’s tomorrow.

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  9. Such a wonderful way to make authentic and pure applesauce! I did not know about the strainer, thanks for providing a picture of one. I wish I had the energy to follow traditions such as this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much – this recipe can be done in stages which makes it a lot easier. I usually take a day break between cooking and canning it. The victorio strainer is a real work horse and when the apples are soft it works wonders 🙂

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