Old-fashioned applesauce

Time-honoured technique a great way to preserve apples!

I grew up eating pink-hued applesauce and admit I was perplexed the first time I saw beige applesauce in a jar. I quickly learned that my mother always made it the ‘old-fashioned’ way, using unpeeled apples. The rosy colour seeps from the skins into the apple pulp, turning it a gorgeous shade of pink; the redder the apple, the pinker the sauce. It’s important to use an apple that softens completely while cooking so it can absorb the colour. I love Empire apples for this purpose. I’m still partial to the pink stuff and make batches often – I eat it on granola, with pork roast and even by itself. I suspect applesauce made this way is also more nutritious; I know it’s more flavourful.


  • 6 apples (I prefer a red-skinned variety that softens well when cooked)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons white sugar or honey (or to taste)

Optional equipment: a food mill, ricer or sturdy sieve


  • If using a food mill, ricer or sieve to puree the apples, there is no need to core them – simply cut unpeeled apples in quarters and remove the stem and blossom end.
  • If mashing the cooked apples by hand, it’s best to core them, plus remove stem and blossom end of unpeeled, quartered apples.
  • Place the apple pieces in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan. If you like pink-hued sauce, put some of the apple peels in as well. Add water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat then cover pot and reduce heat to medium-low.

  • Cook until the apples are very soft, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add another tablespoon or two of water if the apples begin to stick.
  • Pass the apples and any remaining liquid through the food mill, ricer or sieve placed over a bowl to catch the puree. The skins will remain in the sieve.
If you like chunkier applesauce then there's no need to pass it through a sieve.
If you like chunkier applesauce then there’s no need to pass it through a sieve.
  • If you don’t have a mill, etc. then dump the apple mixture from the pot into a bowl. Use tongs to remove and discard the bits of peel which will come off the apples during cooking. Mash apples with a fork to make a puree as smooth as you like.
  • Add sugar or honey to taste; you can also add a bit of cinnamon if you like.

Makes approximately 1 1/2 cups, depending upon the size of your apples. Freezes well.

Author: Paula Roy

Welcome to my kitchen! I love simple dishes prepared with passion and am always seeking to find new methods to make food as fun and flavourful as possible. If you enjoy this space be sure to check out my Rogers TV Ottawa cooking show, Paula Roy's Favourite Foods, available on local cable, streaming and a dedicated playlist on Rogers TV's YouTube channel.

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