04 August 2013

Maggie's Crockpot Applesauce

I have two food "problems." One is popcorn. I LOVE popcorn. At any one point, I have at least four varieties of popcorn in my cupboards and two different devices designed for making popcorn. But that's a different blog post. My second food "problem" is apples. I LOVE apples. I love the way they look, taste, smell, feel, and sound (yes, sound, more on that below). I love them raw and I love them cooked. I love them green, yellow, red, or any combination thereof. I love them sweet and tart and crunchy and juicy (although I do not love them mealy and soft). I have my favorite store-bought varieties (in no particular order): Pink Lady, Honeycrsip, Braeburn, and Jazz - but I know how to pick the best of the available varieties in any store. I make it a point to try new apple varieties when I find them. I've spent far too much time at this website. See? I have a problem.

So, this afternoon, when I opened an email from a colleague about coming to pick some apples off of her overflowing apple tree, I basically read something like this: "OMG APPLES IN YOUR FACE OM NOM NOM NOM!" I'm sure her email was ever so slightly calmer in tone than that, but you get the idea. Shana and I made a quick change in afternoon errands to include picking some apples and my plans were set: CROCKPOT APPLESAUCE! The beauty of crockpot applesauce is in its simplicity. You put the apples in the crockpot, add a few more ingredients, then turn it on! Your house will smell heavenly in no time.

Applesauce is not the prettiest food, but the taste makes up for it!
Maggie's Crockpot Applesauce
Ingredients
~6 c. cored, peeled, and sliced apples
1/2 rounded c. sugar
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
(1/4 c. water, sometimes, see below)

Directions
1. Peel, core, and slice your apples (see the Helpful Hints here and below).
2. Add all ingredients to your crockpot and cook on low for at least 5 hours (or more if your apples are in larger pieces). 

3. Leave chunky, use a whisk to make somewhat smooth (my choice), or let cool a bit and then run through a food processor or blender for a very smooth sauce. 

Helpful Hints
  • Use a mixture of apples. I only had one other apple in the fridge (a Pink Lady), so I used that. The single Pink Lady was at least 3 times the size of my other apples.
  • If your apples are oxidizing quickly, keep them in a water bath mixed with some lemon juice. With this option, do NOT add the water to the crockpot, simply pour the water out of the crockpot. Enough water will stay with the apples. If you do not use this option, add the 1/4 c. water. 
  • This should go without saying, but the apples you use will dramatically affect the flavor of your applesauce. If you pick a very sweet apple, you may want to cut down the sugar a bit. 
  • The apples will cook down quite a bit, so don't be surprised. 
  • You can freeze the applesauce if you like. When thawed it will be slightly thinner (more watery) than before freezing, but not dramatically so. 
  • This recipe is super adaptable!!
    • Want to add more cinnamon? Go ahead (though too much cinnamon can give an odd finishing mouth feel to the applesauce, so be careful)! 
    • Replace some of the apples with other fruits, such as pear, strawberries, or cranberries. With pear and strawberries, you can cut the sugar down. With cranberries, do not move much past a 1:4-5 cranberry to apple ratio, or it will get far too tart. You still may want to add more sugar. 
    • Want this recipe sweeter? Add more - or different - sugar. You can use brown sugar, agave nectar, etc. 
    • Add a little bit of vanilla extract (or almond, maybe?) or add other spices, like nutmeg or clove. 

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