A bowl of warm (or cold) applesauce for breakfast probably sounds like punishment to some people. But to me, this is a dream come true. Lovers of mushy food, put your hands up, because homemade applesauce is the holy grail of soft breakfasts. Unlike packaged applesauce—which tends to be overly sweet or tart, joyless gloop—homemade applesauce is more like a creamy fruit pudding. If that term weirds you out, feel free to @ me with a more appetizing suggestion. Despite its rap, homemade applesauce doesn’t taste like baby food—although you could definitely serve it to an actual baby if you peel all the apples or puree the skin into the applesauce after it’s done cooking.
This applesauce is unsweetened but for some people, pure fruit alone may not satisfy a sweet tooth. And that’s OK—simply add 1 or 2 tablespoons of brown sugar or honey to the pot along with the apples and spices.
Wash 6 large (or 8-10 small) apples and peel about half of them. Slice the apples into chunks, discarding seeds and stems.
Toss the apples into a large stockpot or Dutch oven along with 2 cups water, ½ tablespoon cinnamon, ½ teaspoon allspice, and a pinch of kosher salt. Squeeze in the juice of half a lemon (about 1 tablespoon) and give the mixture a stir.
Bring the mixture to a boil over medium high heat, then reduce to low. Continue to cook the applesauce over low heat for 25-30 minutes, stirring every few minutes and adding more water by the ¼ cupful as needed.
After 25 minutes, you can begin to start giving the apples help breaking down by smushing them with the back of your spoon or spatula, but I think this step is best achieved using a potato masher.
At this point, taste the applesauce and add more spices, lemon juice, or sweetener if using. If you prefer your applesauce really smooth, run it through a food mill. Otherwise, transfer it to a container with a lid and store in the fridge for about a week, plopping spoonfuls onto pancakes or waffles, hash browns, or quick breads.