We all have different ideas of what is comforting: familiar movies, certain songs, a big bed piled high with blankets.
When I’m lonely, comfort might come through a friend dropping by. When I’m tired, it’s an afternoon nap. But when I’m feeling overwhelmed or discouraged, or like I miss someone very much, just point me to the kitchen.
Cooking is such a gift, you know? You can walk into the kitchen with a million things on your mind – the client you lost at work, the list of things you have to finish by Monday, the way that long phone call just ended – and grab something off the counter.
Say it’s five apples, crisp and tart and beautifully tangible, something you can hold in your hand in a way that ideas and anxieties and conversations can’t be held.
You can peel them, one long and curly strip after another, watching their bright skins fall into the trash even as your shoulders relax, and focus on your paring knife slicing the exposed flesh rather than focusing on whatever was on your mind a few minutes ago.
I find this type of repetition can be wonderfully soothing: pour the ingredients into a pan, stir the fruit with aromatic warming spices, take a minute or so to blend everything into a sauce.
I add extra cinnamon, and my mind shifts from conflict to the things that bring peace to our lives.
Applesauce in particular is a kind of kitchen comfort. Not only is it simple to make, with few steps and easy-to-find ingredients, it’s delicious as well, like apple pie filling or a more mashed version of Passover charoset.
Warm and fragrant, this version exemplifies a simple concept, that sometimes an hour in the kitchen serves as the very definition of comfort.
I find this to be particularly true when it ends with something good to eat, made with steps that you can follow almost mindlessly – freeing you up to think, pray, sing, meditate, or do nothing else at all, while your hands lead your mind in the very important task of mixing together something sweet and spiced, to be savored spoonful after spoonful.Print
Skip the sugary jarred stuff. Whip up a comforting bowl of rustic, homemade cinnamon-scented applesauce that comes together in no time.
- 5 medium-sized slightly sweet apples (like Honeycrisp or Fuji)
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Pinch ground cloves
- Pinch kosher salt
- Peel and core the apples, and then dice them into small chunks.
- In a medium saucepan over low heat, add the apples, sugar, water, lemon juice, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Stirring occasionally, cook until the apples have softened, about 30-40 minutes.
- Using a blender, food processor, or potato masher, break down the apples, making sure to keep the consistency somewhat chunky. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 7-10 days.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 35 minutes
- Category: Snack
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Fruit
Keywords: applesauce, cinnamon, snack, fruit
Cooking by the Numbers…
Step 1 – Peel and Chop
Peel the apples with a vegetable peeler to easily remove the skin.
If you don’t have an apple corer, use a sharp knife to slice each fruit in half vertically, and then cut each half in two vertically again. Holding each piece in place on your cutting board, slice the core off at an angle.
Chop the peeled fruit into 1-inch cubes.
Step 2 – Combine Ingredients in a Saucepot
Stirring occasionally, cook until the fruit has softened and turned golden.
Step 3 – Mash
If you use a blender or food processor, pulse the mixture gradually so you don’t overmix it and end up with a smooth puree.
This sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 7-10 days.
Homemade Snacking Is a Snap
By the time you wrestle the lid off of the store-bought stuff, this chunky, spiced applesauce will have already been cooked and made your day.
Well, just about. Either way, you’ll certainly be grateful for that mindful 45 minutes or so to hang out in the kitchen, relax, and reflect.
You can even experiment with adding it to some of your favorite cookies to replace the butter. We love this recipe in our Harvest Spice Breakfast Cookies!
- Apple Streusel Cream Cheese Pie
- Homemade Caramel Apple Cider
- Apple Maple Walnut Cake
- Apple Tart Cake
- Citrus Caramel Roasted Apples and Pears
How do you put your applesauce to good use? Over yogurt? On top of latkes? Solo? Tell your finest applesauce tales in the comments below! And don’t forget to give this recipe a five-star rating if you loved it.
Photos by Fanny Slater, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on October 5, 2010. Last updated: October 29, 2020 at 7:02 am. With additional writing and editing by Fanny Slater and Allison Sidhu.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Shanna Mallon
Shanna Mallon is a freelance writer who holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including The Kitchn, Better Homes & Gardens, Taste of Home, Houzz.com, Foodista, Entrepreneur, and Ragan PR. In 2014, she co-authored The Einkorn Cookbook with her husband, Tim. Today, you can find her digging into food topics and celebrating the everyday grace of eating on her blog, Go Eat Your Bread with Joy. Shanna lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with Tim and their two small kids.