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Which Apples Make for the Best Applesauce?
People love to throw the phrase "comfort food" all the time these days. It seems half the things on the Food Network are "comfort food". But if this is something that really qualifies as comfort food it has to be applesauce. And applesauce is never been than when it is homemade. Now you could just grab any apple off the produce bin and make sauce out of it. But it's the combining of different varieites of apples that makes a truly good sauce. Each apple variety has different characteristics - sweet, tart, juicy, flavorful, aromatic, etc. Below you will find a guide to select apples to make the perfect sauce. One goal that I always keep in mind when making homemade applesauce is trying to get a good balance of sweet and tart with enough sweetness to not need to add any sugar.
This variety you probably will only be able to find at your farmer's market and for a limited time. It is a very tart apple with a nice flavor, so it's a good apple to use in balance with sweet apples.
2. Golden Delicious
This easy to find apple is a way to add some sweetness to your sauce. The apple is pretty soft too, so it will break down quickly, which means your sauce will be done that much sooner. As for flavor I think there are better apples out there. If you can find Prime Gold or Grimes Golden, these are more flavorful sweet, yellow skinned apples.
3. Jonared (or Jonathan)
Jonared is a particular sport variety of Jonathan, which means it's another version of a Jonathan, but not different enough to be it's own variety. The unique thing about this apple is that the red color of the skin bleeds through into the inner part of the apple. That creates a beautiful, red-tinted sauce. If you can't get Jonared, a regular Jonathan is still good for adding flavor and acidity.
I use this apple in a lot of my sauces as a filler, because it turns to mush quickly, has a decent flavor, with some sweet and tart notes, with more of the latter. Another easy apple to find. Also look for Spartan apples. They are similar to McIntosh, but I think the taste better.
5. Paula Red
These apples are available early in the apple season, so they are a good one to combine with summer fruit like peaches in making a fruit-flavored applesauce. Like McIntosh, they quickly turn to mush, especially as they age. They have a good flavor, too!
This a very sweet apple, too sweet for some taste buds. the perfect choice to offset some of the tart apples previously mentioned.
7. Winter Banana
This apple is widely used in cider making as it adds a floral aromatic flavor to the sauce. I think that is a characteristic that would be good in sauce making as well.
Another sweet apple that has great flavor and is available later into the season. It's one of the most beautiful apples, so it's fun just to have them sitting out in a bowl in your kitchen.
9. Swiss Gourmet (Arlet)
Not the prettiest of apples, but it has a unique flavor that would add dimension to your sauce.
10. Fuji and Braeburn
Using this apple in a 1 to 1 ratio would be a good idea for your sauce. Each have both sweet and tart elements with Fuji being sweeter and Braeburn being more tart.
When it comes to making your own applesauce, play around. Try different combination of apples. Add some other fruits to mix. Or sweeten it yourself. When you do it yourself, the sky is the limit!