Looking for holiday gifts for the foodie in your life?
Here are a few gift guides I made to help:

Monica's favorite gear for
making Applesauce
This gets a lot of use in my kitchen. In one motion, it cores and cuts 8 perfect slices. It's a great speed tool for making a quick batch of applesauce.
This stainless steel tool extracts every drop of juice from lemons, limes, and oranges in one motion. I used it for squeezing lemon juice for the applesauce. Easy and dishwasher safe.
In the same pan where the apples cooked, I used this to quickly blend the applesauce to the perfect consistency. It's a handy gadget for blending sauces, gravy, soups, shakes and smoothies, too. This model is the #1 recommendation of Cooks Illustrated.
It's easy to use and programmable. I love the automatic warm setting. #1 pick of Cooks Illustrated.
One batch of applesauce fills eight or nine of these jars. They're a great size for gifts.
I've used this economy priced set since I first started canning. It's processed hundreds of jars of jalapenos, salsa, jam, marinara sauce, applesauce, and more.
Also available: wide mouth funnel
These premium Madagascar vanilla beans are high quality and have economical bulk pricing (much less expensive than any I've found in stores).
Also available: vanilla bean paste
This sweet blend of spices is all that's needed to flavor the Spiced Applesauce.
These full size sheets work with both laser and ink-jet printers. Print a sheet of labels, cut them apart, and adhere them to jars for a polished finishing touch. (This is a great price for sticker sheets--they cost 75% less than what I've found in stores.)
Also available: card stock for tags
This punches a perfect 2" circle. It's just the right size for cutting the applesauce gift tags & jar labels in one quick, easy motion.

Fruit and Spice Applesauce Blends--slow cooker or stove

5 easy, healthy varieties with no peeling, straining, or added sugar


Looking for holiday gifts for the foodie in your life?
Here are a few gift guides I made to help:

These beautiful applesauce blends are a healthy alternative to sugary jams and syrups. Try them mixed into yogurt, smoothies, or oatmeal. Spoon them on top of pancakes or waffles. Use them as a spread on toast, muffins, or bagels. They're versatile, easy to make, and good for you. That's what I call a winner!

In this post, I'm sharing 5 all-natural applesauce flavor blends. Well, one plain ol' applesauce recipe, plus four applesauce fruit & spice blends:

  • Spiced Applesauce
  • Blueberry Vanilla Applesauce
  • Cranberry Clove Applesauce
  • Peach Ginger Almond Applesauce

The easy method used is exactly the same for each variety. Each has a distinctive, delicious flavor and color. 

These are easier & healthier than most applesauce recipes.

  • Don't peel the apples so the nutrient- and fiber-rich skin makes the applesauce healthier. Plus, it saves time and effort if you don't peel the apples. Most applesauce recipes either call for peeling the apples or running them through a food mill after they're cooked to removed all of the solids. My recipes completely bypass those steps. And, by the way, the apple peels blend in so well that you don't even know they're there. So, why not leave them in to add nutrition and save time?
  • Stove-top or slow cooker. Either way; choose the method that suits you. The only adjustment needed is to add slightly less liquid in the slow cooker.
  • No refined sugar is added. Many applesauce recipes add sugar. I start with naturally sweet apples and avoid the tart varieties. A smidgeon of unsweetened apple cider is added to the apples as they cook. That enhances the apple flavor and adds a hint of natural sweetness. If you prefer an even sweeter applesauce, you can add some apple juice concentrate (I thawed a can of frozen organic apple juice concentrate); it enhances the apple flavor and sweetens the apple sauce with the natural sugars in apples rather than refined sugars. 
  • Refrigerate, freeze, or can. You can refrigerate these applesauce recipes up to a week. Freeze them for up to a year. Water-process can them to store in jars at room temperature for at least a year.

Sources. Thanks to these folks for tips and inspiration:

  • My sister, Nelda, a fabulous cook who makes slow cooker applesauce; she leaves the peels on the apples for nutrition and convenience and motivated me to do the same.
  • Marisa of Food in Jars, who does a thorough job of explaining how to make Homemade Applesauce that is suitable for canning.
  • Amy at Family Feedbag whose beautiful Applesauce Fruit Blends inspired me.
  • Penn State Extension for helpful information in Secrets for Canning Applesauce.

Great for gifts. I've made some labels you can add to jars of applesauce to add a finishing touch and make them ready to have on hand for gifts. Who wouldn't love a jar of homemade applesauce, especially one or more of these fruity blends? Look for my printable labels further down in the post. This recipe is suitable for water-process canning; so, you can make them ahead for gift giving.

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION for 1/2 cup serving: 63 calories, 0g. fat, 2 mg sodium, 16.6g carbs, 2.7g fiber, 12.6g sugars, 0g protein; Weight Watchers PointsPlus: 1

 

Step-by-step photos for making
Fruit & Spice Applesauce Blends

First I'll show you how to make basic applesauce and then share recipes and tips for making 4 blended flavor varieties. They all use the exact same cooking procedure.

RECIPE LINKS. To skip the photo tutorial and go straight to the recipes, click on these links:

 

HOW TO MAKE BASIC APPLESAUCE

 

Step 1. Assemble the ingredients for basic applesauce (all of the flavor varieties begin with these ingredients):

  • naturally sweet apples -- So you don't need to add sugar to the applesauce, avoid tart apples and choose the sweeter varieties like Fuji, Gala, Golden Delicious, Honey Crisp, and Pink Lady. You can use all one kind or a combination. Organic apples are recommended, especially since the apple peels are not removed in this recipe. For a complete list of apple types suitable for cooking, see my post: Comparing Apples to Apples.
  • fresh lemon juice -- This brightens the flavor of the applesauce. The juice from one lemon is enough for a batch of applesauce. I use a handheld citrus press to juice a lemon half in one easy motion.
  • unsweetened apple cider -- A small amount is added to boost the apple flavor and provide additional sweetness.
  • frozen apple juice concentrate -- Thaw this and use it instead of apple cider, if you prefer a sweeter applesauce. It doesn't take much, since it is concentrated. It enhances the apple flavor along with providing natural sweetness. (I found organic frozen apple juice concentrate at Whole Foods.)

view on Amazon:  citrus press juicer (It's fast and easy to juice a lemon in one quick squeeze with this handheld gizmo.)

ingredients for Fruit & Spice Applesauce Blends

These are the ingredients used in the fruit & spice applesauce blends.

  • sweet spices
  • extracts & natural flavors-- I used vanilla beans (or vanilla paste or vanilla extract) and almond extract

spices & extracts for Fruit & Spice Applesauce Blends

  • fresh or frozen fruit. If you're using out of season fruit, often frozen fruit is the sweeter, more flavorful choice since it is picked at its peak of ripeness. I used blueberries, cranberries, and peaches in my applesauce blends.

fresh and frozen fruit for Fruit & Spice Applesauce Blends

Step 2. Wash the apples thoroughly. Then core and slice them, leaving the skins on. I use this handy tool that cores and slices an apple in one stroke.

view on Amazon:  apple corer/slicer

easy sliced apples for Fruit & Spice Applesauce Blends

STOVE TOP METHOD

Step 3. In a large pan add lemon juice and apple cider (or concentrate) to the apple slices, toss them, put on the lid and cook for 45-60 minutes, until the apples and skins are soft. Stir it every 15 minutes as it cooks.

Stove Stop Fruit & Spice Applesauce Blends

Step 4. Use an immersion blender to puree the apples. You can do this right in the pan--no need to dirty a bowl. Move the stick blender around the pan and keep blending until it's the consistency you like. It's up to you: smooth or chunky. If you don't have an immersion blender, you can also transfer the cooked apples (with any liquid in the pan) to a blender or food processor for blending.

view on Amazon:  immersion blender (rated #1 by Cooks Illustrated)

blending Fruit & Spice Applesauce Blends

SLOW COOKER METHOD

Step 3. Add ingredients to a slow cooker, cover, and cook on low for 5 hours or on high for 3 hours. (Slow cookers vary, so these times are approximate.)
Step 4. As with the stove top method, blend the cooked apples using an immersion blender, food processor, or blender.

view on Amazon: my favorite slow cooker (rated #1 by Cooks Illustrated)

slow cooker Fruit & Spice Applesauce Blends

Here's how to make the four blended applesauce flavors. Same procedure as above with a few additional ingredients.

1. Spiced Applesauce

 

click to view/print Spiced Applesauce recipe

Use the basic apple sauce ingredients plus pumpkin pie spice. Give it a stir, cook it, and blend it. You can use a store bought spice mix or make your own. Here's my recipe for pumpkin pie spice.

Spiced Applesauce

2. Peach Ginger Almond Applesauce

 

click to view/print Peach Ginger Applesauce recipe 

Use the basic apple sauce ingredients plus fresh or frozen peaches, powdered ginger, and almond extract. Give it a stir, cook it, and blend it. 

Peach Ginger Almond Applesauce

3. Blueberry Vanilla Applesauce

 

click to view/print Blueberry Vanilla recipe 

Use the basic apple sauce ingredients plus fresh or frozen blueberries. Add a vanilla bean (split it lengthwise down the center to release the tiny beans inside), vanilla bean paste, or vanilla extract. Give it a stir, cook it, remove the vanilla bean, and blend it. (My recommendation: use a vanilla bean, if available, for the best flavor.)

Blueberry Vanilla Applesauce

4. Cranberry Clove Applesauce

 

click to view/print Cranberry Clove recipe 

Use the basic apple sauce ingredients plus fresh or frozen cranberries and ground cloves. Give it a stir, cook it, and blend it. (Hint: I recommend adding apple juice concentrate for extra sweetness to balance the tartness of cranberries.)

Cranberry Clove Applesauce

Make apple butter. It's easy. Use the exact same ingredients, but cook them longer. The apples will continue to cook down and will caramelize and darken. When blended, the sauce is smoother with a more intense flavor. The slow cooker method is particularly good for making apple butter, since it cooks slow and low. Try cooking the ingredients for 9-12 hours on low in the slow cooker for a delicious batch of apple butter in any of the flavor varieties.

Storage tips. Here are the options.

  • Keep the applesauce in the fridge for up to 1 week.
  • Freeze the applesauce. In a good freezer, it will keep indefinitely--at least 1 year.
  • Can it using water process canning (explained below). Jars of applesauce can be stored in a cool, dark area in your house for up to 1 year. (The plain applesauce and 4 fruit blends in this post are all suitable for canning.)

 

CANNING APPLESAUCE

  • Adhere to canning safety guidelines. It's important to follow the jar preparation and processing recommended by the USDA. If you want more detailed canning information, I recommend the Ball website. They are the ultimate authority, and their site is loaded with detailed information and recipes suited for canning. 
  • For general canning tips, see my previous post,

Step-By-Step Canning Tips

Canning tips

 

1. Sterilize the jars and keep them hot. I used a combination of pint and half-pint jars.  Use a canning funnel to fill each hot jar with hot applesauce, leaving 1/2" headspace. 

Canning applesauce

2. Insert a bubble remover down the side of the jar and pull toward the center to release any bubbles (you can use any long, thin object like a chopstick).

3. Clean jar rims thoroughly with a wet paper towel. If the rims are dirty the jars won't seal.

Canning applesauce steps

4. Add a lid to each jar. Screw on a ring until it is "finger tight".

Canning applesauce--attaching the lids

5. Use a jar lifter to insert each jar vertically into the boiling water. There should be at least 1" of water over the tops of the jars.  Cover and return water to a rolling boil. Process jars for 15 minutes. Turn off heat and remove lid; leave jars in hot water for 5 more minutes. 

water process canning applesauce

6. Use a jar lifter to remove each jar vertically and set on a towel. Leave undisturbed for 12-24 hours. Within 30 minutes after the jars are removed from the water, you know they've safely sealed if the center of the jar is slightly indented (it shouldn't give when you press it); sometimes you'll hear a popping noise when they seal. If any of your jars don't seal, store them in the fridge and use them within a week.

Fruit & Spice Applesauce Blends in jars

Store your sealed, processed jars in a cool, dark place (a cabinet or pantry is fine as long as it doesn't get too hot); a basement is ideal. 

For a finishing touch, I like to label my jars. That way they're ready for gift giving, too. Applesauce is universally loved, and these flavor varieties are particularly unique and fun to share. Give one or several in a gift basket.

Fruit & Spice Applesauce Blends with gift labels

Download printable jar labels/tags. 

  • Print these on card stock, cut them out, punch a hole in the corner, and hang them from the jar neck with a ribbon, string, or rubber band. 
  • Print them on sticker paper and stick them to the jar or lid. Or, print them on regular paper and stick them on with tape.

If you don't have a printer or specialty papers, you can have a store with printing services download and print them for you (Kinkos, Office Depot, Staples, etc.)

You can cut the round tags out carefully with scissors, or use a circle punch to make the task easier.

  • view on Amazon:  2" circle punch (cuts these tags into perfect, smooth circles in one quick, easy motion)

Click on the image of your choice to download & print a full sheet of labels/tags. I've included a blank label for you to customize as you wish, or use it as a "TO and FROM" tag.

blank applesauce label    plain applesauce label    spiced applesauce label

blueberry vanilla applesauce label    peach ginger almond applesauce label    applesauce

 

If you prefer to freeze your applesauce, these plastic freezer jars come in the same sizes as mason jars. 

applesauce in freezer jars

Look at the beautiful colors of these applesauce blends! Those are some gorgeous jars, don't you think? They taste as good as they look. My favorite way to use them is as a spread on toast, muffins, or bagels. They taste amazing and are a healthy alternative to sugary jams.

Fruit & Spice Applesauce Blends on toast

Make it a Yummy day!

Monica

 

RECIPE LINKS. Here are the recipes links for each of the applesauce blends in this post:

 

Want more applesauce ideas? Check out these yummy applesauce blends from other blogs:

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Posted on Thursday, November 7th, 2013

Looking for holiday gifts for the foodie in your life?
Here are a few gift guides I made to help:








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