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Smashing the Apples

Chunky Spiced Applesauce

This recipe is reprinted with permission from Naturally Sweet Food in Jars © 2016 by Marisa McClellan, Running Press, a member of the Perseus Book Group.
Servings 4 Pints


  • 5 pounds/2.3 kg apples
  • 1/2 cup/118 ml apple juice or cider
  • 2 pieces star anise
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 cup/118 ml apple juice concentrate


  1. Prepare a boiling water bath and 4 pint/500 ml jars.

  2. Peel and chop the apples. Put them into a large, non-reactive pot with the apple cider, star anise, and cinnamon sticks and cover. Set the pot on the stove over medium-high heat and bring to a low simmer. Let the apples cook for approximately 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the fruit is soft enough to crush with the back of a wooden spoon.
  3. Remove the star anise pieces and the cinnamon sticks. Using a potato masher, work the cooked apples into a chunky puree (if you prefer a smoother sauce, feel free to use an immersion blender instead). Add the nutmeg and cloves and mash some more. Taste and add the apple cider concentrate a few tablespoons at a time, until the sauce has reached your preferred level of sweetness.
  4. Spoon the applesauce into the prepared jars, leaving 1/2 inch/12 mm of headspace. Use a chopstick to ease out any trapped air pockets and add more sauce to return the headspace to the proper levels, if necessary. Wipe the rims, apply the lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath canner for 15 minutes.

Recipe Notes

If you have a tea ball, or a small swatch of cheese cloth, I’d recommend putting your star anise in it to contain those little seeds if they get dislodged at some point. It’s much easier to simply pull that and your cinnamon stick out that way instead of fishing around for pieces.