As promised, here's Smitten Kitchen's simple recipe for yummy, homemade applesauce. Appropriately named, this was my first applesauce - ever - and without her delicious cake recipe, I'd continue being a lifelong Tree Top fan club member. And now, I might never go back.
First Applesauce from Smitten Kitchen
Yield: A lot. Guessing about 3 quarts.
4 pounds apples, peeled and cored (I used a mix of Gala and Granny Smith - see note below)
4 strips of lemon peel
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon or 1 cinnamon stick
1 cup water
Peel, core and chop your apples in into large chunks, about 8-ish pieces per apple. Put all of the ingredients in a large pot, stir and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce it to a simmer and cover the pot. Cook for approximately 20-30 minutes, or until apples are soft and you can squish them with the back of a fork. Remove lemon peels (and whole cinnamon stick, if used), and let cool.
Mash or puree in a food processor, blender or food mill and freeze in small portions. To control texture and chunk'age, I used a pastry cutter to mash the entire pot, and then scooped about half into the food processor and blended to thin. I then returned the thinned sauce to the chunkier pot, stirred and canned in pint-sized mason jars. (FYI: I read that applesauce will keep in a cold freezer, sealed tightly, for up to a year.)
+ When baking with apples, I use this to core (and start the chopping process) after peeling with this (only because it's what I had handy when I attempted my first apple pie, and the system works for me).