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Core and quarter apples. In an 8- to 10-quart heavy pot, combine apples, water and, if desired, stick cinnamon. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 25 to 35 minutes or until apples are very tender, stirring often.
Remove and discard cinnamon, if used. Press apples through a food mill or sieve. Return pulp to pot. Stir in enough of the sugar to sweeten as desired. If necessary, stir in an additional 1/2 to 1 cup water to reach desired consistency. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
Ladle hot applesauce into hot, sterilized pint or quart canning jars, leaving a 1/2-inch headspace. Wipe jar rims; adjust lids.
Process filled jars in a boiling-water canner for 15 minutes for pints or 20 minutes for quarts (start timing when water returns to boiling). Remove jars from canner; cool on wire racks.