Coincidentally, our very own apple tree is laden with apples that are finally turning red. Though I've been cooking with them for a few months, they haven't really been ready until the last few weeks. In fact, the first batch of applesauce I made would've benefited from some sugar, which never occurred to me because I've never sweetened applesauce with sugar.
Instead, we have a favorite secret ingredient from my mom's friend Wendi:
Red hots! They add a little sweetness and a hint of cinnamon flavor... and they turn the applesauce pink! (VERY pink, if you use a lot!)
This is approximately the easiest recipe in the world:
1. Peel and core the apples and cut them into chunks. I usually use 6-8 big apples and a decent-sized pasta pot, which yields about two quarts (a really rough estimate).
2. Place the apples in the pot and pour in some orange juice. You don't need to cover the apples; maybe fill it half the height of the apples.
3. Start the heat on high, until it boils, and then reduce the heat until it's still boiling, but not boiling over.
4. Let it do its thing for 20 minutes or so, and then start poking at the apples with a potato masher to see if they're getting soft.
5. When they're soft enough to mash, turn off the heat and mash the apples to the consistency you like. Toss in some red hots and stir around until they melt. If you want it pinker, add more red hots. Best to do this while the applesauce is still hot.
6. If you have kids who are texture-sensitive, pull off some of the applesauce and puree it. I like it both ways: pureed and chunky.
7. Rustle up a pork chop (or just a spoon) and enjoy!
Note: applesauce freezes well! If you make a whole bunch and can't eat it quickly enough, just freeze up a portion of it for enjoyment later in the season.