In our household, September is apple month. Although apples are available in supermarkets year round, it’s not until the late summer months that they are seasonal. Most years, we visit a local farm and pick our own apples (or pick up windfall apples for a super-cheap deal); this year, we harvested apples from an elderly neighbor’s tree; she didn’t want them, and wished to avoid the mess of rotting apples on her lawn. We eat many of the apples fresh (some varieties last for months if kept in a cool location in a single layer), use some for recipes like apple pie or apple pancakes, dry a good quantity and freeze and can the rest.
Making applesauce (to can or freeze) is my favorite way to preserve apples. That’s because applesauce is so versatile and handy to have around. We eat it “as is,” add it to oatmeal, and use it to bake cookies, cakes, muffins, and quick breads. Because, yes, applesauce is a healthy alternative to using oil in baking.
To learn how to make applesauce, check out my 2011 post on the topic. But one word of caution: Applesauce is best made in bulk. If you try to make just enough for an evening’s dessert, you’ll likely find it more trouble than it’s worth.
Using Applesauce as a Replacement for Fat
Applesauce is an easy substitute for oil when baking. Unsweetened or lightly sweetened applesauce is best for this purpose, or you may end up with an end product that’s too sweet. Use it in a 1:1 ratio. So, if a recipe calls for ¼ cup of oil, use ¼ cup applesauce instead. Be sure to use a liquid measuring cup. The texture will be slightly different, and there may be a slight apple-y taste.
Some people prefer to use half oil and half applesauce, instead. (For example, if the recipe calls for ½ cup oil, use ¼ cup oil and ¼ cup applesauce.) In most cakes and brownies, this isn’t necessary, but in some other recipes, substituting all the oil for applesauce could result in baked goods that taste more like apples than you might like. So use your best judgment, depending upon the end flavor you desire.
NOTE: When using applesauce as a substitute for oil, it’s especially important to add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients at the last minute, and to stir gently by hand until the ingredients are just incorporated.
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