I learned how to make stovetop applesauce by accident, while I was trying to make these apple jelly candies. (They didn’t turn out very well and I found myself wishing I’d quit when I just had applesauce.) You can make any amount of applesauce you want. I normally just buy a three-pound bag of Granny Smiths on sale and make that much, but in theory, there’s no reason you couldn’t make one apple’s worth. This time, I wanted a great big batch of applesauce because I was tired of running out and then wanting more the next day, so I bought two bags of apples.
I don’t peel my apples before I cook them, because the repetitive motion of peeling makes my hand hurt. The peels will separate when the apples cook and you can pick them out later. Whether you find this more tedious than peeling the apples in the first place depends on your own preferences. At any rate, cut all of your apples into quarters and carve out the cores. Dump in some water – you don’t need a lot; I usually use a cup or a cup and a half per three-pound bag of apples. Put a lid on the pot. And turn up the heat. Don’t forget to take off the lid and give it a stir occasionally: apples can and will burn, and this doesn’t taste terribly pleasant.
After a while – how long will depend on how many apples you’re dealing with and how frequently you stir – you will get a pot full of goop like this. Turn off the heat. It will still be piping hot, so if you didn’t peel your apples, you have two choices: let it sit around and cool enough for you to wash your hands and pick them out manually, or get whatever utensils work best for you and fish out your peels carefully that way. I’ve tried just pressing the applesauce through a colander and it didn’t work very well. Since I like my applesauce served hot, I usually go for the utensils route.
The peels often have some perfectly good apple stuck to them. You can coax this off pretty easily with a spoon – I usually have a plate next to my pot on which I rest peels to scrape them free of their desireable contents.
After you have gotten all of the peels out of your applesauce, or decided that peels aren’t that horrible to eat and you can really put up with them or just eat around them if only it meant you wouldn’t ever need to sift through any more goop to find them to remove, it’s time to finish up. If your applesauce has lumps in it, turn the heat back on and cook it for a while longer, stirring frequently; this will sort of melt the lumps. (I find that they add character and make it taste deliciously homemade, but that’s me.) Add as much or as little sugar as you like. I find one cup per three-pound bag of apples quite sufficient, but then, I like my applesauce awfully sweet; you probably want to start with less. Add cinnamon to taste – you could add other sweet spices, like ground cloves, if they strike your fancy. Stir it all up until it’s uniform. Serve hot, or chill and serve cold.