It’s true. McIntosh apples are the best apples for applesauce. They’re sweet, tangy and their distinctive flavor translates beautifully to applesauce. Plus they don’t require a lot of extras — just a few tablespoons of brown sugar and a bit of citric acid will do. During McIntosh apple season (September), you’ll want to stock up and make this homemade applesauce. Whether you like smooth or chunky applesauce, this quick and easy recipe let’s you customize it to your tastes.
This post has been updated for content since it’s original publication in 2015.
I first tried McIntosh apples when I was 15 and visiting Manhattan with my parents. My architect father had taken us to an annual architecture and design event known as Designer’s Saturday. Armed with a map of participating studios, we walked around the city from one exhibit or showroom to another, looking at modern, eclectic and contemporary designs. Aside from being a great way to spend a Saturday, each exhibit had some sampling of treats and specialties — one featured McIntosh apples.
Best Apples For Applesauce
Other exhibits plied us with warm chocolate chip cookies or hot spiced cider, however for me, those apples were a “wow” moment. They still are and I’ve found that they really shine in a good homemade applesauce. Granny Smith are a bit too tart and require more sugar than I like to use. Honeycrisp are a little too watery. Red Delicious — excuse me, but what are Red Delicious good for? Galas are good. Jonagolds are too. Pink lady, not for applesauce. No, for me, hands down, it’s McIntosh apples.
Steps For Making Homemade Applesauce with McIntosh Apples
- Peel, seed and roughy chop the apples.
- Add brown sugar, lime juice and water.
- Stir together and heat to boiling.
- Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally until the apples are softened.
- Transfer to a blender (or food mill) and pulse several times until you have the consistency you like.
- Can be eaten warm or refrigerated.
How To Make Chunky Applesauce
Chunky Applesauce is really a matter of how long you cook the apples and how much processing you do. If you like chunky applesauce, cook the apples so their tender, but not falling apart and only briefly pulse them in the food processor (2-3 pulses should do it). Note: If you’re using a food mill to puree the applesauce, and still want chunks, reserve a bit of the cooked apples and stir them into the pureed apples.
For Smoother Homemade Applesauce
Cook the apples a little longer, until you see them just starting to break down. Transfer to the food processor or food mill and puree until smooth.
Can You Can Applesauce?
The simple answer is “yes”. Both my mother and my grandmother used to can big vats of homemade applesauce. I don’t do it because we generally don’t get a large enough crop here in South Florida to make it worth our while. Instead, I make fresh batches whenever I spy the McIntoshes in the markets.
Many people like to embellish their applesauce with cinnamon, nutmeg and the like. I can see why you’d want to do that with other varieties of apple, but not for the McIntosh. Trust me on this one. McIntosh has a flavor that’s so unique, it absolutely can stand on its own, without the frou-frou add-ins that you’d normally reach for. Trust me, try this homemade applesauce once on its own WITHOUT the extras — then if you still need them, add as you like.
What To Serve With McIntosh Applesauce Recipe
- Pork Chops with Pan Gravy
- Brined Grilled Pork Chops
- Crunchy Breaded Pork Cutlets
- Grilled Veal Chops with Garlic Herb Crust
- Dry Rubbed Pork Tenderloin
- Grilled Chicken Thighs with Herb Spice Rub
Recipes That Use Homemade Applesauce
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- 4-5 McIntosh apples peeled, seeded and cut into 1" dice
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 lime juiced
- 2 tablespoons water
- Into a medium saucepan, add the apples, brown sugar, lime juice and water. Cover the pot tightly and heat to boiling. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 5-8 minutes, until apples are tender. Transfer to a blender or food processor and pulse 3-4 times to desired consistency. If you like it chunky, process it less -- or for uber-smooth -- pulse a few more times. Serve chilled or at room temperature.
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