A small amount of maple syrup is the key to a wholesome applesauce that allows the natural sweetness and flavor of the apples to truly shine.
My grandmother was always known for her amazing applesauce. She used transparent or “early” apples–the ones that appear in farmers markets here in mid-July. Their appearance never fails to surprise me, because I’m more focused on peaches at that time of year and apples feel so very fall.
Because, these first-of-the-season apples are very tart, this type of applesauce relies on a heavy dose of sugar. But it’s sooooo good. I make it most summers, and those who haven’t previously tried it are always amazed at what this kind of applesauce tastes like.
I remember the first time I strayed from those early apples. I made a crock pot version and delivered a container to my grandmother.
Her first question, asked knowingly yet without judgment, was, “Did you use the early apples?” It was mid-fall, so those apples were long gone. Yet when she tasted the applesauce, she gave it her genuine stamp of approval.
As the grandmother who lived on Fountain Avenue–the one who inspired my love of cooking and for whom this blog is named–I always felt a certain pride and validation when I received her stamp of approval.
My latest rendition foregoes sugar altogether, opting for a small amount of maple syrup instead. The maple syrup is a lovely complement to the apples, although I’ve included a sugar option for those who may not have pure maple syrup on hand.
Also included, below the recipe card, is a handy guide to a variety of apples as well as helpful equivalents.
- 10-12 large apples (see notes for good options)
- ½ cup apple cider (may substitute apple juice)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ cup pure maple syrup (or to taste; see notes for sugar option)
Peel, core, and quarter the apples. To prevent browning while you are peeling, place the peeled apples in a sink or bowlful of cool water.
Place the apples, cider, cinnamon, and salt in the insert of a 5 to 7-quart slow cooker. If your slow cooker is smaller, consider making half or three-quarters of the full recipe so as not to overfill your cooker.
Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6-7 hours, or until the apples are very soft.
For chunky applesauce, mash the apples with a potato masher. For a smooth consistency, puree the apples in a blender or with an immersion blender.
While the sauce is still warm, add the maple syrup. Taste and add more maple syrup to achieve your preferred level of sweetness.
Enjoy warm or chilled. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to one week. This recipe freezes well, too.
- This time, I used a mix of Fuji, Jonagold, Rome, and Golden Delicious. These are all sweeter varieties that allowed me to use a mere quarter cup of maple syrup to achieve desired sweetness. An advantage to using maple syrup is that it can be added at the end, after the apples are mashed or pureed. This way, you can truly add to taste. Sugar is best added earlier so the granules fully dissolve. My previous way of preparing was to use a mix of sweet and tart apples, adding ¾ cup sugar at the beginning. Feel free to use this method if you prefer, as it is equally delicious.
- Other good naturally sweet sauce apples include Cameo, Cortland, Gala, and Honey Crisp.
Apple Equivalents, Measures, and Substitutions
• 1 pound apples = 2 large apples
• 1 pound apples = 3 medium apples
• 1 pound apples = 2-3/4 cups cored, sliced or chopped apples
• 1 pound apples = 1-1/3 cups applesauce
• 1 medium apple = 1 cup cored, sliced apples
• 1 medium apple = 3/4 cup cored, chopped apples
• 1 medium apple = 1/2 cup mashed apples
• 4 pounds fresh apples = 4 cups applesauce
• 4 pounds fresh apples = 1 pound dried apples
• 2 pounds fresh apples = filling for one 9-inch pie
• 1 pound dried apples = 4-1/3 cups
• 1 pound dried apples = 8 cups cooked apples