We were recently shopping for applesauce and gave it up in disgust when even the "natural" types were discovered to contain high fructose corn syrup. Plain applesauce without unnecessary sweeteners can be found, but it's so easy just to make your own.
Our preferred applesauce is homestyle and chunky, full of the flavor of dark brown sugar and lots and lots of cinnamon. This is great served warm or cold, or spooned over ice cream.
Use winter apples that have perhaps grown a little softer, a little sweeter, and you can reduce the sugar called for here. In fact, feel free to leave it out completely. The only essential parts of this recipe are the apples, lemon juice, and water.
about 4 cups
5 large apples (about 3 pounds)
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon brandy (optional)
Peel, core and cut up the apples. Put them in a large, heavy pan with the other ingredients and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cover tightly. Let simmer for about 30 minutes or until soft. If it's too watery, leave the lid off for a few minutes to let it reduce.
Remove the cinnamon sticks. If you want smooth applesauce, puree in a food processor or with an immersion blender. Otherwise, just mash with a fork.