After a bit of research, I deduced that applesauce is super simple and easy. Apples, being full of pectin, require no stabilizers or additives to work simply as applesauce. Do you hear that, manufacturers? NO STABILIZERS. In fact, I used three ingredients for this sauce: apples, water, and cinnamon. Oops, wait, that's a lie. I did use some lemon juice to prevent the apples from turning color and I used half fresh cider and half water (more on that in a minute). So 14 quarts of apple sauce cost me approximately $13 to make. That's less than $4 a gallon!
Two tips if you decide to make your own applesauce. First, you need a bit of water in the bottom of your pot to start cooking the apples. They will release liquid on their own, but to jumpstart it, I used 1 cup apple cider and 1 cup water in the bottom of the pot. Secondly, I recommend using a food mill. I don’t know why I have not had one of these for years, it makes sauces much easier to strain and achieve a perfect consistency.
Makes 12-14 quarts
12-14 pounds mixed apples
1 cup water
1 cup apple cider
1 cinnamon stick
Fill sink with water and add juice from 1 lemon. Half and core apples, then chop them into rough quarters. Add apples to water to prevent browning. Once all apples are prepped, place very large stock pot (or lobster pot) on stove over medium-high heat and add water and cider. Drain apples and add to pot along with cinnamon stick. Cover.
After about 10-15 minutes, start stirring apples occasionally. They will start to cook and soften, but make sure to keep turning them to ensure even cooking. Once apples are cooked to appropriate doneness (decide from texture), place another large pot over medium heat. Using a food mill with medium disk, ladle apple mixture and mill into the clean large pot. Repeat until all apples are pureed. Season applesauce with cinnamon to taste (don't overdo it, the flavor will continue to develop over time) and bring to a boil. Let boil for 5 minutes before canning.
If canning, make sure all equipment has been sanitized in dishwasher and lids have been boiled. Transfer hot apple sauce to hot jars without touching any part of the jar that will have a seal, seal jars with boiled lids, and invert for 5-10 minutes. If the seal has properly taken the dimple will be drawn in on the lid top (and not popped out). Canned applesauce can be stored for up to 1 year. Open sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
More detailed instructions on canning can be found at http://www.pickyourown.org/jam.htm