4 apples (about 2 pounds)
2-4 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 cup apple juice or water
a 3-inch strip of lemon zest
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter (optional)
Wash, core, and cut the apples in chunks as for mashed potatoes. (If you’re not using a food mill or strainer, you may want to peel the apples With a vegetable peeler, peel a large strip of the yellow skin (“zest”) from a washed, preferably organic, lemon. In a large, heavy bottomed saucepan cook everything except cinnamon and butter over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the apples are very soft, 15-20 minutes. Fish out the zest. Mash with a fork or run through a food mill. Stir in the cinnamon and butter. Serve the applesauce warm or chilled.
Butter is traditionally added to applesauce to make it richer. You can leave it out if you like.