Appelmoes, basically meaning ‘apple mush’ in Dutch, is a popular (side) dish made with, well, you probably guessed it: apples. It must be one of the very first things anyone ever learns to ‘cook’ as a 5 or 6-year-old in elementary school – at least it was for me – as it’s very easy to make. The basic recipe is made by cooking apples with sugar, a squeeze of lemon juice and a splash of water until very soft after which the mixture can be passed through a food mill or processed with an immersion blender to make a smooth sauce. This final step can even be skipped and the mixture can be left soft but slightly chunky to make what is actually called appelcompote (which I actually prefer).
What are the best apples for applesauce?
Traditionally, in The Netherlands, goudreinet (‘golden rennet’, also called goudreinette or Belle de Boskoop) apples are used to make appelmoes, since their tart flavour, firm texture and dry and rough peel make them unpopular as an eating apple. Jonagold and elstar are also commonly used, but in reality, almost any cooking apple or otherwise tart and slightly sweet apple can be used to make this sauce. Despite what you might think, while soft or mealy and sweet eating apple varieties might cook down easier, they are actually less nice to be used in this recipe.
What can you eat with apple sauce?
While I always thought appelmoes to be Dutch, various types of pureed apple and apple sauces are eaten all over the world. While most recipes are actually pretty much the same, the biggest difference is what apple sauce is most commonly eaten with.
In the Netherlands and Belgium, we like to eat ‘appelmoes met kip en patat/frieten’, applesauce with (usually roasted) chicken and potato fries. In neighbouring countries such as Germany, The UK and France, you may find it more commonly served with pork fillet, (blood)sausages and perhaps even roasted goose. For non-meat combinations, I’ve also seen apple sauce served with cheesy pasta (such as Swiss älplermagronen) and perhaps most famously with potato latkes and other similar pan-fried potato pancakes.
While the former combinations are all in the ‘sweet-and-savoury’ category, apple sauce can of course just be eaten plain as a sweet dessert or snack and it is also very good on pancakes, overnight oats, fresh waffles, on vanilla- or cinnamon ice cream and it can be used in many baked goods to substitute eggs.
Appelmoes / Easy Dutch Apple Sauce for Meat and Sweets
- 1.2kg apples (preferably Goudreinet, or other tart and slightly sweet apples)
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- water, about 80ml (but depends slightly on juiciness of the apples)
- 100 - 125g white crystallised sugar*
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 - 3 star anise
- *sugar can be substituted with brown sugar or other sweeteners and amount can be adjusted to preference and according to the sweetness of the apples
- Peel the apples, remove the core and roughly chop into cubes.
- To a pot over low heat, add the apples, lemon juice, water, sugar and spices (if using).
- Leave apples to cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the apples start falling apart, or cook for about 20 minutes and use an immersion blender to make a smooth sauce. Technically, the sauce is ready by this point, but If you want a thicker sauce continue cooking until it’s reached your preferred consistency.
- Serve warm or allow to cool before serving.