Okay, your apples don’t have to be stolen. But mine were so here we go:
Take a walk on a late summer/early fall day. Pull your stroller, shopping cart, colander, or reusable grocery bag up to an apple tree. Alternatively, go to the store or farmers market. Look for 10-12 large apples. They should be firm and heavy. If they have fallen from the tree it’s likely they are ripe, but they are probably worms. And there will be one or two bruised spots. Both are okay, but look for apples that have smaller affected areas or look like they maybe fell sooner and are therefore less rotten. All those flaws can simply be cut out and put in the chicken food.
If you’re buying the apples, it can be nice to have a couple different varieties in the mix. And unlike apple pie, I prefer to use the sweeter, mealier types. Golden/red Delicious, Honeycrisp, Gala, Gravenstein, Thompson King. They fall apart and don’t leave big chunks in the final product. If you like it chunky, use a couple Granny Smith or Jonagolds.
Using a small paring knife (or a vegetable peeler), peel and core the apples. I wash mine once they are all cut up. They are going to be a little messy from worm trails and blossom bits so there isn’t a big advantage to washing ahead of time. And I usually use a paring knife so I can just cut those grody bruised part and worm holes right out. It’s like cutting mold off cheese: any part that isn’t moldy/wormy/squishy is just fine. Take all those pieces of peel and core and either put them in your compost pile, feed them to the birds, OR put them in a ziploc bag in your freezer so you can simmer them with a cinnamon stick on the back burner next time you have guests!
I’ve heard you can leave the skins on a few red apples and it will make pink applesauce. I haven’t done it myself, and I don’t put my sauce through a blender so I think it might do bad things for the texture, but you could certainly give it a try!
You can slice the apples or cut them into chunks. I like chunks because I feel like it’s harder for the apple pieces to stick to the bottom of the pan and burn. And they will burn if you aren’t careful. Please refer to the postscript.
Add 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup of sugar to a medium saucepan. Rinse your apples and add them to the pan as well. Bring your stove up to medium high heat and let it come to a boil. Turn the heat to low and let it spit and sputter for about 20 minutes. STIR OFTEN. If it looks like it’s getting too dry toward the end, be sure to add some more water – just a little at a time.
When all the chunks and/or slices have started to fall apart… taste it! Is it sweet enough? Is it smooth enough? Add more sugar if you like it sweeter. If you don’t care about the color, add some light brown sugar for a more caramely flavor. I like to add a teaspoon or so of ground cinnamon at this point as well. At this point my stolen applesauce is done! I portion it into small ziploc containers and throw them in the freezer (my kids like to eat it frozen like ice cream). It’s semi sweet, it’s a little chunky, and it’s a terrible brownish swirly color – and it tastes WONDERFUL!
You can whir it up in the blender or dehydrate it into fruit leather, or serve it along side a perfectly cooked pork loin. There is a lot of room for interpretation here and it isn’t at all difficult. The only thing that can go wrong is that you’ll over sweeten OR you’re sauce will burn to the bottom of the pan. It doesn’t take a lot of apples to make enough sauce to enjoy for weeks.
This isn’t a picture of my applesauce pan. But it looks identical to the pan I used for my last batch of “found applesauce”. I went outside to plant some herbs in the yard, stayed out there 10 minutes too long and came into a sight like this. It’s sad and it might even cost you your pan.