Have you ever purchased applesauce in the store?
Did you read the ingredient list? If you did you may have seen sugar or high fructose corn syrup as added ingredients.
Have you ever made your own applesauce? Does the recipe call for a ¼ cup of sugar? Is adding sugar to applesauce really necessary? Can you have sauce that satisfies the sweet tooth without having to dump in additional ingredients?
Yes you can! It all comes down to the apples you select.
If you pick the right apples or right combinations of apples, the natural sugars in the apple will be enough so that no additional sugar is required.
Below you will find a list of apples that are options for no sugar added applesauce. Not only will you not need sugar, these are the best apples for making applesauce, in terms of flavor as well.
I have three lists, one of commonly found varieties, one of less commonly found varieties, and the last one is hard to find varieties but if you can find them they are worth the effort.
For the sake of this post I am assuming that you are making a smooth, not chunky applesauce. I will save any talk about chunky applesauce for another post.
The most popular varieties in stores today don't necesarrily lead to the best applesauce making. Nowadays everyone wants a sweet, juicy, and crisp apple. The trouble with a crisp apple is that they take longer to break down into sauce and if they really juicy the process takes longer as well. But that doesn't mean you can't do it.
This is the easiest way to add sweetness to your applesauce. Mix a few Galas in and your good to go.
Fuji will add sweetness as well but I think Galas do have a bit more flavor so if both options are available I would stick with Galas.
Honeycrisp bring enough sweetness to the party, but their crisp texture isn't doing you any favors. The more expensive price would also leave me to just enjoy these out of hand.
Red & Golden Delicious
America's once delicious apples have fallen on hard times in the eyes of apple fans. Toss either Red or Golden Delicious into your sauce is a cheap way to save you on the sugar.
When these are first available they will be more on the tart side, but if you end up with some older Macs that have gone mushy they can be used in applesauce. They do get sweeter with age but I still don't think they become sweet enough for no sugar added sauce.
A later season apple that definitely packs the punch in the sweetness category.
An apple gaining popularity depsite it's inconsistency in flavor. Is on the sweeter side, but if Galas are available they still would be a better option.
Less Common Varieties
These are varieties that either may be common in certain area of the country, available in some stores but not all, or ones that are reality new to the market place. With a bit of searching you should be able to find these. All of these apples are not available year round.
An early season apple that is very popular here in Michigan. A bit more tart than a Golden Delicious. Use for sauce when they are a nice yellow color, with no green.
Like the McIntosh, Paulas start out on the tart side. But wait a couple weeks and they will soften and get signficantly sweeter. I made an entire batch of applesauce from just Paula Reds and I didn't feel the need to add any sugar.
Sweetie (super sweet, no flavor)
This is a new apple that is start to pop up at more and more stores. It is super sweet and lacks any acid whatsoever. I also think it lacks flavor. I can see adding them to a more tart, flavorful apple in a batch of sauce.
A Kiku is a sport variety of a Fuji. It's a natural mutation of a Fuji tree, that I find to taste better than Fujis in most cases.
This apple is available around New Year's Day and into the winter months. It has a tropical like taste and it sweet enough - more on the crisp side.
Another winter variety gaining in popularity. It's a yellow apple that is more sweet than tart.
A yellow fleshed apple that is available before Golden Delicious.
Zestar! - a University of Minnesota developed apple, like the applecrisp, is available early in the season. It has a brown sugar like flavor that would do wonders in applesauce. They tend to go soft in a couple weeks, so if you have some hanging around your fridge, they would be perfect to toss into your sauce.
A super sweet option that I would use in addition to more flavorful apples.
Same as Sonya, although slightly better in flavor when you get a good one.
Hard to Find, But Good Varieties
These apples are hard to extremely hard to find. They are either heirloom varieties or new ones that have limited availability. If you are able to find any of these, they all would make for excellent applesauce with no added sugar!
Just discovered this one this month. It's super sweet, with no acidity whatsoever. I do not enjoy it for out of hand eating. It is guaranteed to sweeten up my next batch of applesauce.
For super sweet apples, these have more flavor. Would work well mixed with a more tart apple.
Had these for the first time in 2013. They are sweet with a floral like flavor that was really refreshing. Ate them up to fast to try them in sauce. Sure they would make for a good addition.
Hudson's Golden Gem
This is a Russett variety that has a brown skin with a golden color underlying. Sweet and flavorful.
Candy Crisp Apples
A more recent developed variety that is just like it's name says, sweet as candy, more flavorful than the Sweetie or Pink Sugar I mentioned earlier.
Aurora (Golden Gala) Apples
An offspring of the ever popular Gala, the Aurora has the sweetness you need with middle of the road flavor.
Westfield’s Seek-No-Further Apples
I have only had one bite of this variety, but it was memorable enough to still make the blog. Great sweet flavor.
One of the earliest sweet apples around - Pristine is the perfect companion for all the tart apples found at the start of apple season.
Sweet with a very mild pear like flavor.