Homemade applesauce too bitter
November 9, 2012 11:14 AM   Subscribe

How to fix bitter taste in homemade applesauce?

I made a large batch of applesauce last night, something I do on a fairly regular basis. To my great dismay it's quite bitter. I added more brown sugar to counteract the bitterness, but it hasn't helped. I'm wondering if there's anything else I can do to fix the bitter--not sour, but BITTER--taste.

I used a really good recipe (http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/applesauce/) I have used several times, which includes several strips of lemon peel along with the juice of a lemon. In last night's batch, because I had about a pound more of apples than usual, I upped the lemon peel a little. The recipe also calls for whole cinnamon sticks, brown sugar and white sugar (small amounts), water, and a pinch of salt.

When I was cooking it last night, the apples weren't softening as they should, so I decided to use a potato masher to break them up a little so they would cook down more. The recipe includes this step--after the apples are completely cooked down and softened--but it's supposed to be AFTER you remove the lemon peels and cinnamon sticks. I forgot this and mashed the sauce a little with the peels in there even though it still needed a little more cooking. Is this what accounts for the strong bitter taste, that I mashed the peels and maybe extracted some of their bitter quality more than if they just gently cooked in the sauce, unmolested? Again, the sauce is not too sour, but bitter.

So is there anything I can do to fix this? I know there might be a sort of chemical fix (like adding salt?) or more of a taste fix (more sugar? I hate it to be too sweet). Butter? I made about a gallon of applesauce and I hate to lose it all! Help! And thank you.
posted by primate moon to Food & Drink (10 answers total)
Try a little cinnamon on a test batch and see if that helps.
posted by txmon at 11:17 AM on November 9, 2012

If you are using the same apples and recipe that you have been (and you say you have), then it must be the peels. I don't think there's anything that you can do or add to get rid of the bitterness... perhaps refrigerating and eating it cold might blunt the bitter taste a bit.
posted by ditto75 at 11:37 AM on November 9, 2012

Definitely sounds like the lemon peels. Whilst the yellow zest on the outside of a lemon isn't bitter, the white pithe (is that the right word?) underneath certainly is and would likely make your applesauce taste bitter if you mashed whole peel into it.

I don't know how you'd fix it though, I hope someone else does. I had something similar happen with orange peel and had to throw the result awa
posted by stillnocturnal at 11:54 AM on November 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

Did the peels have any pith on them?
posted by rhizome at 11:59 AM on November 9, 2012

Okay this is going to seem crazy to you, but the way to counteract bitterness is to add salt.

So try salting a test batch, a teeny tiny bit at a time, and see what happens.
posted by Mizu at 12:20 PM on November 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

My first thought was did you use a reactive pan? Apples vary in acidity but if you cooked in copper or aluminum or cast iron (unless it was enameled) that might be contributing. It might be the lemon peels, too, if there was any pith on them. Salt is the fix for bitter in savory cooking, so take a cup of your sauce, add a hearty pinch of salt and see if that works. Good luck!

On preview: agree w/ Mizu. Try salt!
posted by hungrybruno at 12:21 PM on November 9, 2012

You can also counter the bitterness with more sour so adding more lemon juice may be helpful.

I agree with Mizu (and others) that salt can help, too and that it makes sense to try it out with a small test batch.
posted by mountmccabe at 12:45 PM on November 9, 2012

If you add more spices, heat them gently in an oil or butter first--raw spices need a fat or a liquid to release their real fragrance and flavor.
posted by Ideefixe at 1:15 PM on November 9, 2012

Do you have any applesauce left from a prior batch? If so test a 50/50 mix of old and new sauce and see if the bitterness is still noticeable. If this works just make another batch and then combine the two!

In the future I would just use the zest rather than the intact peel with the pith.
posted by cat_link at 2:41 PM on November 9, 2012

Thanks, all, for your responses. I used just the zest--should not have said peel, when I meant zest. I will try the salt treatment and let you know. Thanks!
posted by primate moon at 2:51 PM on November 9, 2012

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