A Fresh Take on Apple Sauce

No matter where you look . . . whether in old cookbooks, or modern farm catalogues, or random pockets of the Internet … descriptions of apple varieties seem to always assign them to the same main categories: fresh eating, cider, pie, and sauce. Of these, sauce is the most overlooked. Apple sauce is often relegated to the kids’ section of the fridge, or reserved for a once-a-year fall cooking project.

But it shouldn’t be!

We’re here to tell you that apple sauce has the potential to be so much more than its watered down grocery store version, not just because some of the most delicious apple varieties are designated “sauce” apples, but also because you can use apple sauce as an ingredient in so many other baked goods! If you manage to make enough apple sauce between August and October, you’ll be able to enjoy effortless muffins, cakes, breads, and even brownies long after apple season ends (provided you either freeze or can the sauce).

Classic sauce varieties like Yellow Transparent, McIntosh, and Golden Delicious earned their reputations because of how easily their soft interiors break down when cooked. This is also why those varieties are NOT recommended for baking pie! Using these varieties will result in a traditional, velvety smooth apple sauce every time, using nothing but an inch of water, a pinch of salt, and a little patience.

Summer Rambo apples

If you’re up for trying something a little different, we have three varieties picking at the moment that would create a wonderful sauce: Marshall McIntosh, Wealthy, and Rambo.

Marshall McIntosh brings the tartness, Wealthy the sweetness. Rambo, more a “pie” than a “sauce” apple, joins the party to make this a chunky sauce (but you can omit them if you’d prefer a totally smooth sauce). I love a chunky apple sauce as a snack, and I especially love it as a baking ingredient because you get the moisture you need AND little pops of apple flavor in your baked good.

Here’s how easy it is:

  • Peel, core, and quarter the Marshall McIntosh and Wealthy apples (use about 3 of each). Place these in a pot with an inch of water at the bottom. Add a pinch of salt and a generous pinch of cinnamon powder. Turn the heat to medium-high with the lid on, and take the lid off when the water starts to boil.
  • Let the apples simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, and adding more water if necessary to prevent apples from burning to the bottom of the pan (but don’t add too much water, just enough to keep from burning).
  • At this point the apples should be soft enough to mash with a potato masher. Or, you could use a food mill if you have one and then return the sauce to the pot.
  • Dice 3 Rambo apples into 1/4 inch cubes (leave the skin on for maximum nutrition!) Add these to the pot, stir, and let cook for an additional 10-15 minutes until they’re soft but not falling apart.
  • Enjoy a little while it’s warm, and put the rest in jars to have on hand.