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The way Mom makes it; something so basic I hardly think of it as a recipe.  It works well whether you make it with a handful of apples, to eat in one to two days, or with 10 pounds to make lots for canning.

Tart, flavorful apples, as many as you like and can fit into your chosen pot
  (I love pippins or gravensteins, but in Missouri I these are hard to come by so I use Jonathans)

Lemons, about 1 per dozen apples



Set a large enough pot on the stove with a bit of water to wet the bottom (maybe 1/8 of an inch).  Set to low heat.

Rinse the apples.  Do not peel or core.  Slice coarsely 1/4-1/2 inch thick.  Drop into the waiting pot as you slice each apple.  The first ones should be breaking down and releasing liquid before the tiny bit of water you added evaporates; add a little more water or turn down the heat if the pot dries out at any point before they break down. 

Rinse and slice the lemons 1/8 inch thick, and stir into the pot.  Cover and cook over low heat  until the apples are all soft, which may take 10 minutes to an hour depending on the size of your pot, the number of apples, and the hardness of the apples.  As long as it does not scorch, you should be fine.

Put the mixture through a food mill.  Do not use a blender or food processor; you want the food mill to do the work of straining out the seeds and peels, and the slightly coarse texture that results.

Sweeten and spice to taste.  Start slowly with the cinnamon--it's easy to overdo it.  If you're grating the nutmeg fresh, it is hard to overdo.  Vary the spices as you like--freshly ground mace and cardamom make a fruitier applesauce; cinnamon and cloves a darker, spicier mix. 

Raisins added while the unsweetened sauce is still hot will help thicken and sweeten it without added sugar.  Another nice variation, but a lot more work, is to core the apples before cutting into bite-sized chunks, then cooking them with raisins but without lemons--resulting in a chunkier, less tart version.

And I always like to keep some on hand, unsweetened and unspiced, for use in recipes like Cocoa Muffins and Apple Pepper Cheddar Bread.

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