Easy No-Waste Applesauce, Skins On and Unsweetened

A potato masher is mashing cooked apple chunks down into chunky applesauce
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If you find yourself with more apples on your hands than you can eat before they head south, make this disappearing applesauce to ensure no fruit goes to waste. You’ll save money, keep food out of landfill where it emits planet-heating methane and you’ll eat something tasty!

I made the batch pictured in this post with discounted, not-so-pretty, local apples from the farmers’ market that cost 60 percent less than their “pretty” counterparts. Sometimes I can’t tell the difference between the two. Subjectively pretty or not, they all taste amazing.

I didn’t sweeten this and, except for one rough-skinned apple, didn’t peel the apples. After cooking, I puréed in the skins with an immersion blender. But peel the apples if you prefer. Had I bought non-organic or shiny waxed apples typically found in grocery stores (the FDA says this edible wax is safe), I’d have peeled them and composted the skins.

Apples, a halved lemon and a cinnamon stick sit on a light wooden cutting board
Applesauce ingredients

Good apple varieties for applesauce

Contenders include:

  • Fuji (sweet)
  • Gala (sweet)
  • Golden Delicious (sweet)
  • Cameo (sweet-tart)
  • MacIntosh (sweet-tart)
  • Honeycrisp (sweet-tart)
  • Winecrisp (sweet-tart)
  • Gravenstein (sweet-tart)
  • Pink Lady (sweet-tart)
  • Mutsu (sweet-tart)
  • Braeburn (tart)
  • Newtown Pippin (tart)
  • Granny Smith (tart)

I used a combination of sweet and sweet-tart apples. If you use tart only, you may prefer to sweeten this applesauce.

Avoid mealy, flavorless varieties such as store-bought Red Delicious apples. Industrial agriculture has bred the flavor out of these in favor of a more profitable, thick-skinned apple that can withstand shipping over long distances. The farmer we buy apples from grows an old-fashioned, actually delicious, Red Delicious apple.

Chopped apples and a cinnamon stick sit in a 3 quart stainless steel pot
Ready to cook
Two jars of applesauce sit on a wooden table, surrounded by fresh fall produce
This yielded six cups but by the time I took a picture of it stored in jars, we had eaten two cups

Applesauce serving ideas

  • Make fruit-bottom yogurt: Fill a small bowl with applesauce and top it with yogurt.
  • Applesauce can replace oil, butter or eggs when baking (depending on the recipe). After I made this batch, I baked a sourdough discard vegan chocolate cake and substituted half of the olive oil called for in the recipe (I’m running low) for this applesauce. My taste tester didn’t notice any difference from how I usually make the cake and ate a few pieces while it was still warm.
  • Bake applesauce cake. I haven’t tried this recipe but it has good reviews.
  • Serve it on the side of latkes.
  • And of course, you can eat it on its own as a snack.
A small chocolate cake cools in a glass pan sitting on a silver cooling rack, sitting on a wooden cutting board. The cutting board sits on top of a dark wooden table.
Sourdough discard vegan chocolate cake with applesauce substituted in for half of the oil

Make vinegar with the apple cores (and peels if you peeled)

I stashed the cores and the peel of that one apple had I peeled in the freezer. Once I have amassed a large enough pile of apple scraps, I’ll ferment a batch of apple scrap vinegar. The microbes necessary for the fermentation survive their stint on ice. This vinegar differs from apple cider vinegar and isn’t as strong but it is good stuff and essentially free. Go here for more info and the instructions.

A half-filled bottle and a large jar of apple scrap vinegar sit on a wooden table
A strong batch of apple scrap vinegar made with apple peels and cores
A potato masher is mashing cooked apple chunks down into chunky applesauce
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Easy, Quick, Unsweetened Applesauce

Prep Time20 mins
Course: Snack


  • 10 cups bite-size pieces of apples about 10 or 11 medium apples, peeled if desired
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • ½ cup water


  • Combine the apples pieces, lemon juice, water and cinnamon stick in a medium-size pot. Bring to a boil and turn down to medium-low heat. Simmer until fork tender, 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the apple variety. Stir occasionally during cooking.
  • Remove the cinnamon stick and mash the apples with a potato masher. If you left the skins on, purée the sauce to incorporate the peels or run it through a food mill to remove them.
  • Store the applesauce in clean jars in the refrigerator. It will keep for up to a week. Or freeze for longer-term storage.

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5 Replies to “Easy No-Waste Applesauce, Skins On and Unsweetened”

  1. I do the same except I use a food mill. I love the pink colour when you leave the skin on.

    1. It is such a pretty color 🙂

  2. Very good! I rarely sweeten my applesauce either. Sometimes I add a bit of vanilla, because my mom did.

    1. Oh I love that idea. I’ll do that with my next batch. Thanks for the tip!

      1. The vanilla in applesauce and her apple pies was always one of her secret ingredients!

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