Homemade Applesauce

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This past year and a half, I have become an avid food label reader, but there are certain products for which it never occurred to me to read the label. A perfect example of one of these products just happens to be one of my sons’ favorite treats: applesauce. Call me naive, but I just figured it would have apples and maybe a tad bit of some sort of sweetener.

I am sure you can imagine the look of surprise on my face when I read that there were 22 grams of sugar in this little 1/2-cup of applesauce … and the sweetener used? High-fructose corn syrup. A study was conducted in 2010 by Princeton University, and they found that rats fed HFCS gained fat 300 percent faster than those fed an equal (or slightly larger) serving of fruit-derived sugar. Also, consuming high-fructose corn syrup increases the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and hypertension. It also elevates triglyceride and LDL, a.k.a. bad cholesterol, levels. It has also been found to be especially destructive to your liver. But the most alarming statistic I found was that high-fructose corn syrup is often loaded with alarmingly high levels of mercury.

One study found mercury in more than 50 percent of samples tested. And if you did not know, mercury exposure can result in irreversible brain and nervous system damage.

The American Heart Association recommends that women ingest no more than 100 calories a day from added sugar from any source, and for most men, it’s no more than 150 calories a day from added sugar. That’s about six teaspoons of added sugar for women and nine teaspoons for men.

Now with that little tidbit fresh in your mind see if you can wrap your head around this: 22 grams = 5 teaspoons. That’s in a little 1/2 cup of prepackaged applesauce, y’all, and we are feeding this to our children!

If you must use a sweetener, honey, agave nectar or brown sugar are much more healthful alternatives to white sugar, sugar substitutes, and most certainly to using high-fructose corn syrup.

Here is the recipe I used to replace my sons’ store-bought applesauce.

What you’ll need:
6 pounds apples (cored, peeled, and cut into at least 8 slices)
1 cup apple juice
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup honey or agave nectar, or 1/2 cup brown sugar

Place all ingredients in large pot and cook over medium heat for about 30 minutes, making sure to stir often. Depending on the consistency you like, you can use a potato masher like I did, or you can use a food processor/blender for a smoother texture. This recipe made enough to fill eight 8-ounce mason jars, and will last inside the fridge for a while.

The completed applesauce.