Apple picking is one of my favorite things to do all year, and is practically a mandate in New England. But sometimes, after you’ve eaten all you can, and you’ve made a pie, you’re still looking at a bunch of apples. Or maybe going picking with your little ones left you with some less-than-perfect specimens. It’s time to make applesauce.
In my opinion, there is no better way to make applesauce than in the crockpot. All of its usual virtues apply here: the low, constant heat that prevents scorching, the lid that keeps all the moisture in, the long, unattended cooking time work together to make delicious and easy applesauce.
Not only does making applesauce at home use up your apples, preventing you from throwing away food you already paid for (Don’t you hate that?) but it allows you to take advantage of that cheap, discounted produce wilting away in the corner of the market. Still not convinced? I’ll give you two more reasons. It’s a good solution to my from last week (homemade AND in a reusable container!) and it freezes beautifully, so you can “put up” food even if you’re terrified of canning like I am. Make a whole bunch and freeze it flat in plastic bags, or directly in individual containers for snacks. Plus, your house will smell fantastic!
I know some of you don’t like it when I don’t give exact measurements, so I’ll warn you this is going to be another one of those times. There isn’t a real recipe here, but I’ll give you some guidelines:
- Taste the apple. If your apple is very juicy, you will need very little water, if any; if it is drier, you’ll need more. If your apple is tart, you might want a little sugar; although I never add any, and I think it’s fine. Don’t stress out about it, you can always add more water and/or sugar as it cooks if you misjudged.
- The chunkiness is up to you, and is easy to control. If you want more of a hot apple side dish, serve it before it gets too mushy and don’t mash them at all. Otherwise, use a potato masher or blender for chunky or smooth sauce.
- You can follow this same process with pears, or a mix of apples and pears for a change of pace.
- If you plan to blend the applesauce, you don’t even need to peel the apples.
Apples, as many as you want (7 medium apples filled my crockpot.)
1-3 tsp lemon juice
Cinnamon and/or nutmeg, cloves, or pie spice
1-2 Tbsp brown or white sugar (optional)
Put the apples in the crockpot. Sprinkle with lemon juice and cinnamon (or other spices) and toss. Add a few tablespoons of water and any sugar you're using. Turn the crockpot to low, and cook for about 6 hours. Mash by hand or in a blender to desired consistency. Serve hot or cold.