I’ve never been a fan of cranberry sauce. Watching the jelly-like substance slip out of the can onto a serving dish always creeped me out as a kid (of course, I had to watch every year), and the flavor was simply too tart for the likes of my taste buds. Even after my sister took on the role of cooking cranberry sauce from scratch a few years ago, I still could not be swayed. Cranberry sauce is one of the few dishes at the Thanksgiving table that I pass to the person next to me without taking a serving myself. On the other hand, if someone passed me homemade applesauce instead, the serving would take up 1/3 of my plate.
When my sister (yes, the cranberry sauce sister) was still in college in New Hampshire, my mom and I paid a visit one Fall to celebrate the coming of autumn the right way–picking apples. And not just a bag or two, but 25 glorious pounds. One of the fruits of our labor was fresh applesauce. I was immediately sold on the made-from-scratch version’s chunky thickness and surprising lemony brightness, which was balanced by a hint of cinnamon. I make it every Fall after picking an astonishing amount of apples…and I’m hoping to convince my mom to serve it as an alternative to cranberry sauce on Thursday. We’ll see. Apples are still in season in upstate New York, right?
4 lbs of a variety of all-purpose/baking apples (such as Fuji, Granny Smith, Gala, and Braeburn), peeled, cored, and sliced
1/2 cup apple cider
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 stick cinnamon
3 strips of lemon peel
1. In a large pot, combine the ingredients together. Cover and bring to a boil.
2. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until apples can be pierced with a fork. (This can take up to an hour depending on the ripeness of the apples).
3. Remove pot from heat and let cool slightly. Remove cinnamon stick and lemon peel.
4. Place pot on a sturdy surface, and smash apples with a potato masher until no large chunks remain.
5. Serve warm, or refrigerate and serve cold.