Wash, dry, and peel the apples. Discard the peel and core. Roughly chop into 1-inch pieces.
Add to a medium pot with 1½ cups water.
Set over medium heat and bring to a simmer and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes, or until the apples are breaking down and soft. (If the mixture is rapidly boiling, turn the heat down to medium-low.)
Stir in the cinnamon and lemon juice if using. Turn off heat.
Mash with a potato masher or with the back of a wooden spoon. Or, let cool slightly and puree with an immersion blender or transfer to a blender to blend very smooth. (If using a regular blender, allow some steam to escape as you blend to avoid an explosion.)
Serve or store.
Cinnamon Applesauce: Add 1 teaspoon cinnamon to the applesauce.
Strawberry Applesauce: Replace 1 cup of apples with 1 cup of strawberries and prepare the recipe as directed.
Peach Applesauce: Replace 1 cup of apples with 1 cup of peaches and prepare the recipe as directed.
Vanilla Applesauce: Add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract to the finished applesauce.
Maple Applesauce: Add 2-4 tablespoons maple syrup to the finished applesauce.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks or in the freezer, once fully cooled, in a freezer-safe container or in an ice cube tray or reusable pouches. Let thaw in the fridge before serving.
Use apples that taste good fresh for the best flavor.
Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice for brighter flavor.
You can mix apple types, just know they may not cook at exactly the same rate. (So you may need to cook a little longer.)
Stir a few times during cooking to help the apples cook evenly.
If the applesauce is boiling rapidly when the pot is covered, turn down the heat slightly. You want it to simmer to avoid it cooking too quickly or burning.