As I detailed in my apple chips post, I find apples and five-spice powder to be a match made in heaven. It works as a mysterious, subtle spice in applesauce also but feel free to substitute cinnamon, nutmeg, etc.
I love the deluxe addition of the French apple brandy, Calvados. It imparts a richness without any overt alcohol flavor. Calvados is so good in so many things: pork dishes, whipped cream, brushed onto an apple tart, and so on. It's on the spendy side but I find that I use it sparingly so my bottle has lasted for quite a while.
If you don't want to go through the trouble of canning the applesauce, it can be portioned out into freezer bags or containers and frozen, for up to 6 months.
For about 5 pints:
- 8 pounds apples (I used a combination of Haralson, Gala and Prairie Spy)
- 1 cup water
- 1 - 1½ cups sugar
- 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon five-spice powder
- Pinch of sea salt
- 1/3 cup Calvados
Peel and cut the apples into 2-inch chunks and add them to a large pot. Zest and juice the lemon over the apples.
Over medium-high heat, add the water and one cup of the sugar to the pot with the apples. Stir frequently until the apples are soft, about 20 minutes. Turn the heat down to low and mash the apples with a potato masher until the desired consistency is reached. Stir in the five-spice powder, sea salt, and Calvados. Taste, and add up to a half cup more sugar depending on the desired level of sweetness. Stirring frequently to prevent scorching, raise the heat to medium-high and bring the sauce to a boil. Allow it to boil for one minute, stirring constantly, and then remove from the heat.
Have five sterilized pint canning jars ready. Fill the jars, leaving a 1/2-inch headspace. Run a plastic knife down the center of the jar and around the inside to remove any air bubbles. Process the jars in a lightly boiling water bath canner (about 200 degrees) for 20 minutes. Remove the jars from the water and set aside to cool for 24 hours before storing in a cool, dark location for up to a year.
For complete sterilization and canning procedures, click here.