If applesauce makes you think of grandma, gingham and baby food, think again. Most groceries carry a variety of apples and each one makes a slightly differently flavored sauce. Bring a global imagination of seasonings to apples, and you’ve got a sophisticated side dish or a sauce for pork, beef or chicken. First, make your own applesauce with pounds of apples, peeled and cored (or just cored if you like chewy bits of peel.) Cook with a strip of lemon zest, 1/2 cup of sugar (or start with less if the apples are sweet), a pinch of salt and about a cup of water until soft. Let cool slightly, then blend with an immersion blender to the smoothness or chunkiness you prefer.

Fresh Ideas

Classic applesauce is a forever fall favorite, but this year, let’s give it a twist.

Spicy Applesauce

Add 1/2 tsp. cayenne to applesauce. Or, add a tablespoon of fresh-grated ginger, a pinch of turmeric and maybe even some golden raisins.

Cranapple Sauce

Cook 1 1/2 cups of fresh cranberries with the apples.

Apple Pie Sauce

Stir in 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon, a pinch of cloves and a pinch of allspice to your finished applesauce. Let it rest awhile before serving to let flavors mellow.

Pear Applesauce

Use fresh pears instead of apples.

Caramel Applesauce

Cook 1/3 cup brown sugar with 1/2 cup water until it looks like maple syrup. Then add the apples—no more sugar—and cook until tender.

Rhubarb Applesauce

Cut rhubarb into 1-inch pieces and cook with the apples.

Yours for the Picking

With 7,500 varieties of apples in the world, and 2,500 of them grown in the U.S., you have a lot options. Shop for the flavor and color you crave. 

Kiku are the sweetest variety, determined by the measurement of brix (like wine grapes). Most apple varieties have a brix of 12–14%; Kiku apples measure at about 16–17%. 

Granny Smith is one of the tartest apples on the market. 

Honeycrisp is a fall harvest loved for its crispness.

Gala is creamy yellow with pink striping and has a sweet flavor.

Red Delicious is a classic with a sweet but very mild flavor and juicy flesh.

Fuji tend to be the biggest apples and are firm, crispy and juicy.

Winesap hold their shape in cooking and have a distinctive complex flavor, not just tart or sweet.

Gala tend to hold their color after cutting without browning, making them great for salads. 

Empire and Cortland are especially good for applesauce. 

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