This homemade applesauce boasts an unusual ingredient in place of traditional sugar - pureed dates! Dates give it a warm, almost caramelly sweetness that I'm completely in love with. You can use any apple, but I recommend honeycrisps. They make a delicious applesauce.
Yield: 10cups applesauce
8poundsapplespeeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch chunks (about 15 medium apples) (I use mostly honeycrisps)
43-inch cinnamon sticks
Peels from one lemoncut with a vegetable peeler and as much pith removed as possible (about 5 strips)
Another 1/2 - 3/4 cups water
Add peeled, cored, and chopped apples to a large pot (I use a 7-1/4 quart Dutch oven) along with the cinnamon sticks and lemon peel. Add 1 1/2 cups water.
Place on the stove over medium-high heat, bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook until the apples are tender, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, place the pitted dates and 1/2 cup water in the pitcher of a high-speed blender. Puree until completely smooth, adding additional water if needed to keep things going.
If, after the 20 minutes, the apples are tender enough to mash with a potato masher, go ahead and mash them as much as possible. Otherwise, cover them back up and give them a bit more time to cook.
Once the apples are mashed and stirrable, add the pureed dates. Stir until combined. Taste and add more sweetener if desired (see notes). Continue simmering until applesauce is the thickness you'd like. I cook it for just a few more minutes and it's usually perfect.
Remove the lemon peel and cinnamon sticks and discard.
If you want completely smooth applesauce, let it cool and then puree in batches in the blender.
Store in airtight jars in the refrigerator. With a batch this big, I usually like to freeze some in jars or freezer bags to enjoy later on.