Vanilla Chai-Spiced Chunky Applesauce (Naturally Sweetened)

Vanilla Chai Spice Applesauce

Vanilla_Chai_Spice_Applesauce

I know it seems kind of silly now, but for a while I was a little embarrassed to admit how much I like applesauce. I would “buy it for my kids” or make it from scratch on occasion, but it was always “for my kids.” Then it dawned on me that it was really a ridiculous notion. Applesauce is just plain good and I should enjoy it out in the open like a normal person. So, that’s precisely what I’ve done. No shame. :) A few days ago I decided it had been far too long since I had made homemade applesauce. We hit up the farmer’s market and came home with several dozen apples of various varieties. I wanted to use a mix of different apples both for flavor and texture, and I liked the idea of infusing the applesauce with spices as it cooked. In about an hour we were spooning up warm Vanilla Chai-Spiced Chunky Applesauce into our bowls.

Vanilla_Chai-Spiced_Applesauce
Some apples are better suited to eating raw and others are better cooked, but most apples it seems are pretty great cooked or raw. They lend their unique flavors and textures. I just kind of sliced up a few of each variety – some were peeled, others I didn’t peel. Cores were removed. And then I added a vanilla bean and a spice packet to the pot along with some raw apple cider. I didn’t want to water down the flavor at all. It worked brilliantly. Usually I use my slow cooker, but I was too excited to wait all day for that. It only took about an hour on the stove with periodic stirring.

Vanilla_Chai_Spice_Applesauce-4Vanilla_Chai_Spice_Applesauce
I’ve found that the best way to physically break down the apples is with a potato masher. Some of them start to break down on their own as they cook, but mashing finishes the job. We like ours with a lot of texture. If you’re not a fan, by all means puree it with a traditional or stick blender, or a food processor. The apple peels didn’t bother us and it helped give the sauce a nice color, but that’s personal preference.

Vanilla Chai Spice Applesauce
This recipe makes about 5 cups of applesauce, which was one serving for each of us in our family. It can easily be scaled up or down. I haven’t tried canning it, but I assume it would be fine if a pressure canner was used. (Apples aren’t acidic enough on their own.)

SERVING SUGGESTIONS

Stir into oatmeal
Serve with latkes (potato pancakes) or pork
Eat with cheese
Layer in a trifle
Use as a sandwich spread (hello, grilled cheese sandwich!)
Mix with yogurt or cashew cream for a fruit dip
Use in baking – muffins, cookies, cakes, waffles, pancakes
Serve it on top of pancakes, waffles, or Dutch Baby
Ice cream topping
Top with crunchy granola
Stir into plain yogurt to naturally sweeten it

What other ways do you use applesauce?

 

Vanilla Chai-Spiced Chunky Applesauce (Naturally Sweetened)
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Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 5
 
A naturally sweet chunky applesauce that is infused with vanilla and chai spices. Perfect for breakfast, snacks, or even dessert.
Ingredients
  • 5 pounds assorted apples, peeled, cored and roughly chopped or sliced (see note)
  • 1 cup apple cider or juice
  • 1 vanilla bean, cut in half
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 3-4 slices fresh ginger
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 4 green cardamom pods
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 1 nutmeg (or ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg)
Instructions
  1. Place apples and apple cider into a Dutch oven or large pot. Tie the spices, except for the vanilla bean, into a neat little packet using cheesecloth and tuck into the pot. Bring just to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring so the bottom doesn't burn. Lower the heat so the pot is barely simmering. Cover and cook for 45-60 minutes. Stir every so often to make sure the bottom isn't burning. If it is, lower the heat a little more.
  2. When the apples have softened, remove the vanilla bean and spice packet. (I carefully squeeze the cheesecloth to get any excess juices out.) Use your fingers to squeeze the vanilla seeds from the bean and into the apples. Mash the apples with a potato masher to make a chunky sauce. For a smoother sauce, use a traditional or immersion blender, or food processor to puree the apples to the desired texture.
  3. Yield: 5 cups
Notes
Notes:
-One pound of apples should yield about 1 cup of applesauce. The recipe can be scaled up or down accordingly.
-I used 2 of each of these varieties: Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, McIntosh, Jonathan, Honeycrisp, and Gala.
-Dry, ground spices can be used in place of the whole spices - no cheesecloth packet needed.

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