Cooking with Kids: Applesauce & Apple Butter

The weather is finally cooling off and we are soaking up that autumn sunshine!  We love apples anytime, but especially in the fall, so to celebrate, we’d like to share our favorite super easy recipes for applesauce and apple butter.  While the hot parts do require adult supervision, these recipes are kid-friendly, all natural, and absolutely delicious!

Easy Applesauce Recipe

Step One: You need some apples.  That is really all you need.  We don’t add any sugar or preservatives — just the natural awesomeness of apples.  The Schweitzer boys picked about a bushel and a half (or about 48 pounds), which yielded 11 quarts of applesauce for us.  Fresh homemade applesauce can be preserved through canning or freezing without any additives, so we happily make big ol’ batches to last us through the winter.

We used a combination of Rome and McIntosh apples, but any variety will work.  Generally, softer varieties of apple will cook down faster, which will save you some time and energy.  Other popular varieties to consider include Fuji, Braeburn, Winesap, Ida Red, Jonathan, and Jonagold.

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Step Two: Scrub ’em up!  Clean your apples as you would for eating.  Nate scrubbed ours in a water bath with a splash of vinegar, and Levi gave them a rinse.

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Step Three: Chop ’em and Cook ’em!  Young kids can help with the chopping if you have a kid-friendly knife!  We quarter our apples and toss them in a big stock pot to cook down — skins, seeds, and all.  If you have a kitchen strainer, cooking the apples with skins and seeds intact produces a beautiful, rich color and a better flavor in the end.  However, if you don’t have a strainer, you need to peel and core your apples before cooking them.

Cooking time will depend on your apple variety, but place them in a large pot, covered, over medium heat until the apples are soft enough to pierce easily with a fork.  If you have a crazy ton of apples like us, you’ll have to do several batches.  (I’d tell you how many, but I lost count.)

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Step Four: Sauce ’em!  When our apples were thoroughly cooked, the kids cranked them through my mom’s vintage Victorio strainer to remove the skins and seeds.  My mom has been making applesauce with this strainer for longer than I can remember, so if you’re at all interested in making and preserving your own foods, you won’t find a better, more durable option.  Here’s a great little review of what exactly this strainer is, how it works, and why you need one right now:

If you’re still trying to make do without a strainer, you can turn your cooked apples saucey by mashing them with a fork or potato masher or using an immersion blender, depending on how smooth a texture you prefer.

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We used classic Ball Mason jars to can seven quarts of our applesauce, and we used the remaining four quarts to make this simple and delicious apple butter!

Easy Apple Butter

We used:

  • 4 quarts applesauce
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • patience

Truly.  Transforming applesauce into the scrumptious, spreadable autumn of apple butter is as easy as adding some sugar and spice and then letting it simmer, uncovered, until it reaches the consistency that you want.  Stir frequently to avoid scorching. Our four quarts cooked down into four and a half pints, and we spent all day patiently stirring.

Now we just have to figure out how to convince a four-year-old to try the amazingly delicious treat he spent two days making before his little brother scarfs it all down!

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