Applesauce: Buy It vs. Make It
When my friend Debbie had her first child, we all (us single Carrie Bradshaw-types, her motley collection of degenerate single friends) would crowd into her Lower East Side apartment to view the baby-thing. It was cute! And we eyed Debbie with suspicion. How did she suddenly know how to do mom-stuff? When the baby started eating solids, I watched in fascination as Debbie made applesauce.
“It takes two seconds,” she said. “I have to rescue these apples before they go bad anyway.” Zhoop, zhoop, zhoop. She sliced them, she put them in a pot, and by the time we were done dissecting the latest Melrose Place, there was applesauce. How. Did she do that. It was as if I were in the kitchen with David Blaine.
Of course, now that I’m a mom myself, many mysteries have been solved. And with two toddlers, I am something of an applesauce connoisseur. So you’d assume I make the stuff all the time, right? Ha-wrong. Despite being given a schmantzy baby-food maker upon the birth of Child #1, I ordered organic jarred food by the case from Amazon and saved my energy for Melrose reruns.
And I’m pretty sure I’ve been wasting a decent amount of money. Let’s try it and see.
With not one, not two, but three solid applesauce recipes on site, I had my pick of options. Did I want to make it super-fast, in the microwave? Super-slow, in the crock pot? Or super … uh … stove-toppy?
I also decided to go stovetop. I’m kind of meh on the microwave in general. Great for reheating, but I don’t like it for steaming (too slow), defrosting (too gross), or any kind of actual cooking of raw things (not brown enough). As for the crock pot, I will next time, but wanted to see how fast I could perform this feat.
I chopped my apples, then realized most normal people would peel them. You need to know this about me: I am lazy. Though I can denude an entire apple without breaking the peel, thanks to Girl Scouts and dried apple dolls, I can’t be bothered. My mashed potatoes have peel. My carrot sticks have peel. My eggplant keeps half its peel when I put it in a sauce. It’s one of the reasons I eat organic — just so I don’t have to peel stuff. So peel-y applesauce is how I roll, and it’s also chunky, because I can’t be bothered to wash the food processor just for one dish.
Naughty me, I used sherry instead of water, sprinkled in about half the recommended brown sugar, and threw in a cinnamon stick, then wandered away to oversee a bath. When the kids were dry, there was warm applesauce. What!
So it’s easy. And it’s definitely tasty. But is it cheaper? And is it as convenient?
Honestly, it’s barely cheaper. The little pre-packed Motts containers come out to 14 cents an ounce. A big jar comes out to 11 cents an ounce, and I never get through one before it goes bad. The Safeway organic house brand, O Organics, is actually pretty cheap, coming in at 7 cents an ounce.
Compare that to these recipes, which use about 4 pounds of apples to yield about 56 ounces of sauce. My local grocery has prepacked organic Gala apples for $1.63/lb, which comes out to 11 cents an ounce. Cheaper apples? I know. My farmer’s market always has cosmetically challenged ones for like a dollar a pound, but even then, it comes out to 7 cents an ounce. So what! Where’s the big savings? There isn’t one!
Unless you are paying for jarred baby-food applesauce. Don’t do that. 20 to 30 cents an ounce, and it’s the same stuff. Cut it out.
Possibly the easiest buy it/make it challenge I’ve ever had. And I was kinda thinking “oh, but the little individual containers are so convenient, ” and then I realized I could just freeze the applesauce in ice-cube trays and put them in the little Munchkin containers, so that’s that.
The stuff I made is better. I can add ginger, lemon, cinnamon; I can use sherry instead of water or make it half-pear if I’m feeling totally kooky. Peels-on and pureed makes for a deep color and crisper, apple-y-er taste.
Buy it, if that’s how you roll. It’s not costing you extra. But making it almost as easy as buying and yields fantastic results.
What’s the verdict? Check out all our Buy It vs. Make It!