Our Food Project CSA includes a fruit share in the fall. The first week's share included gorgeous Paula Red apples, which look like Macs, but have a slightly firmer texture and a slightly less sweet taste. Perfect, in other words, for the season's first applesauce.
Homemade applesauce is one of those things that sounds like it's going to be a lot of trouble, and then once you've done it, you realize two very important things:
1) It's really easy to make; and
2) It's almost impossible to screw it up.
All you need to do is wash, core and cut up the apples, toss them into a big pot over medium-high heat, add a splash of lemon juice, a sprinkle of sugar, and perhaps a bit of water, and then let them get mushy. I don't peel the apples, because I like a pinkish tint to my applesauce, and also because I'm really pretty lazy. If you want yellow applesauce, you'll have to be industrious and get to peeling. You go ahead and have fun with that; I, for one, just can't be bothered.*
Here are my lovely little Paula Reds, on their way to becoming applesauce. These are small apples, and so I cut most of them in half, quartering a few of the larger ones. I'm telling you, it's quick business.
After you've got everything into the pot, pop in some freshly squeezed lemon juice (half a lemon's worth ought to do it). As for the sugar, I like to be stingy with it, because I want my applesauce to taste like apples. I put in maybe a teaspoon to a tablespoon of sugar for every 8-12 apples, none at all if the apples are sweet enough to begin with. I've seen recipes that suggest up to 1/2 cup of sugar *faint*, so play with it and see what you like. I also sometimes add a cinnamon stick or two at this point, but I think that does more for fragrance than for flavor. Then heat the fruit for 20-30 minutes, until it's nice and soft.
At this point, you can just mash everything with a potato masher for nice chunky sauce, but then you've got to fish the peels out with a fork, and that's too much trouble for me. I put it all through a food mill. Once the apples are smushed, however it's done, I like to add a teaspoon of vanilla, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and (ssh) a generous pat of butter, and stir everything in while it's still warm.
After that, you can just go ahead and continue to dump cinnamon in there to your heart's content. See? Wasn't that easy?
Homemade applesauce freezes nicely, if you can get to that point. Ours usually doesn't hang around long enough to make it to the freezer. I've tried making applesauce and canning it, but haven't come up with anything that withstands the additional heating time in the canner well enough for me to prefer it to freezing.
*If you have one of these fun apple corer/peeler/slicer gizmos, go for it. My kids love to use ours, but I usually save that for apple pie projects.