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Making Things By Hand - Homemade Applesauce

Published on Monday, May 26, 2014

The other day I was making my usual grocery list, writing down the items without even thinking. Milk, coffee, creamer, cereal, bananas, veggies, meat, bread, cheese, granola bars, applesauce, and various other things.

The radio was playing in the background, and all of a sudden I hear this come across the airwaves…

“Hey, whatever happened to waitin' your turn, doing it all by hand. 'Cause when everything is handed to you...It's only worth as much as the time put in. It all just seemed so good the way we had it, back before everything became automatic.”

And before I knew it, I was thinking of times growing up when I would watch my grandparents, parents and family members make things by hand. Pies, breads, pickles, quilts, clothes, decorations, pottery, ice cream, I could go on and on.

You’ve probably guessed it by now. I don’t try to, but somehow, I always end up relating country music songs to things in my life. They come on when I least expect it and always manage to stop me in my tracks with the message or inspiration I need. This may seem silly to some, but to me, they are perfect reminders of the values this country was built on and ones I want to ensure I stick to and pass on to my family, just like they did for me.

In looking back at my grocery list, one item caught my eye and inspiration took over. I remembered talking with our very own, Glendia Beck, about more of her recipes and one she gave me recently –homemade applesauce.

Applesauce is something I enjoy eating and use when baking, but I usually just buy it from the store and don’t think anything of it.

You see what happened there? I’m not proud to admit it, because I am extremely grateful for everything we have in this country; but that’s how easy it is today to take the convenience of things for granted. As Americans, we’re so fortunate to be able to walk into a grocery store and buy just about any ingredient we want, at any time of the year. But that wouldn’t be possible without farmers and families like you.

When instances like this happen, it reminds me to slow down and take time to be thankful for not only what I have, but the skills that have been passed on to me. So I decided to put those skills to use.

A day or so later, I still went to the grocery store for my items. But instead of picking up a jar, I bought ingredients to make that homemade applesauce that Glendia shared with me.


Between both sides of my family, I’ve made a wide array of homemade recipes. But somehow, I have never made applesauce by myself before. So I was looking forward to it!

As I read the directions, I quickly realized it wasn’t going to be a fast process. But as Miranda says, 'when everything is handed to you…It's only worth as much as the time put in.’ She’s totally right. When you have that finished product, you look back on all that work and it makes it all worth it.

And let me tell you, this applesauce is definitely worth it!

To try it for yourself, here’s what you need:


• 2 large navel oranges, zested and juiced
• 1 lemon, zested and juiced
• 3lbs of Granny Smith apples (about 6-8 apples)
• 3lbs of sweet red apples (about 6-8 apples) --- Glendia suggests Fuji or Gala
• ½ cup light brown sugar, packed
• 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 2 tsp ground cinnamon
• ½ tsp ground allspice

1. In a large bowl, zest and juice the oranges and lemon.

I didn't have a true citrus zester so I used a very thin grater and it worked well for this purpose since everything will eventually be blended together. Tip: when juicing the oranges and lemon, keep the peel toward the bowl to prevent seeds from dropping into your juice mixture.

2. Then comes the apples. Peel, quarter and core the apples (reserving the peel of two of the red apples) and toss them in the juice.

3. Pour the apples, reserved apple peel and juice into a nonreactive Dutch oven or enameled iron pot.

4. Add the brown sugar, butter, cinnamon and allspice and cover the pot.

5. Bake at 350o for 1 hour and 30 minutes, or until all the apples are soft. Remove and discard the red apple peel.

6. Mix until smooth. For this, you can use a whisk, blender or an immersion hand blender.


Once smooth, the applesauce can be served warm or cold. This is one of Glendia’s favorite recipes and she said it is really good hot or cold.

As it was in the oven, I could hardly wait to taste it…especially when my whole house filled with delicious smells of apples and cinnamon!

After it cooled a little, I gave it a taste test. I had no doubt that it would be good. All of Glendia’s recipes so far have been great, and this was no exception!

With the added oranges and lemon, there is a little more of a citrus flavor than some recipes, but it makes it light and refreshing. It would be a perfect dish to serve cold and bring to family gatherings this summer. I know I’ll be bringing it to our next one!

 For a printable version of this recipe, click here.

I didn’t start making this until late in the evening, so by the time it was done, it was almost time to go to sleep (mental note = start earlier next time). But it was definitely worth the work.

Thank you to Miranda and Glendia for the reminder and inspiration to give up the automatic in my life every once in a while. I hope you will take some of this time for you and your family during this busy time of year.


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Chelsea O'Brien
Chelsea O'Brien>

Chelsea O'Brien

Beck's Hybrids marketing associate, social media specialist, southern Indiana native and advocate of agriculture.

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