Why It Works
- The mellow sweetness of toasted sugar adds complexity.
- Apple cider vinegar helps brighten cooked fruit.
- Using skin-on fruit improves both flavor and color in the finished product.
- Aromatics like cinnamon, orange peel, and rose water intensify the flavor of the apples.
When you want an applesauce that's more than just a fruit purée, apple cider vinegar, plus a few aromatics like cinnamon and orange peel, will elevate the apple flavor without getting in the way. Apples belong to the same botanical family as roses, so a few drops of rose water will go a long way toward restoring a sense of freshness to the aroma of cooked fruit.
- 4 pounds mixed apples (about 12 medium apples; 1.8kg)
- 3 1/2 ounces plain or toasted sugar (about 1/2 cup; 100g)
- 1/2 teaspoon (2g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use about half as much by volume or the same weight
- 1 ounce apple cider vinegar (about 2 tablespoons; 30g)
- 1 (3-inch) strip orange peel
- 1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
- Apple cider, to adjust consistency
- 1/4 teaspoon rose water (optional)
Core apples without peeling, then slice and roughly chop into 1/2- to 1/4-inch pieces. This will yield approximately 3 1/2 pounds prepared fruit (16 cups; 1.5kg). Transfer to a 5-quart Dutch oven, along with sugar, salt, apple cider vinegar, orange peel, and cinnamon stick. Stir to combine, then cover and place over medium heat until apples have wilted and begun to bubble in their own juices, about 15 minutes. If this process seems to be moving slowly, simply turn up the heat.
Continue cooking, stirring from time to time, until apples are fall-apart tender, about 10 minutes more. Remove orange peel and cinnamon stick, then purée to your desired consistency with an immersion blender or food processor (see note). If desired, thin as needed with apple cider to adjust consistency. For a more intense apple flavor, season with 1/4 teaspoon rose water.
Transfer applesauce to glass jars and refrigerate up to 3 weeks. If freezing, make certain not to overfill the containers, as the applesauce will expand once frozen.
The texture of the finished applesauce depends entirely on how it's blended; for best results, use a high-powered immersion blender. I've had excellent results using the All-Clad stainless steel immersion blender.