I know I’m not alone in buying produce and not being able to eat it all while it’s still perfect. Recently, I have been notoriously bad for buying bags of apples – with every intention of eating them regularly – and letting them languish in a bowl on the dining table. Sure, we eat a few of them. I like dicing them and cooking them in a skillet with a tiny bit of brown sugar and cinnamon, then putting them over pancakes or just eating them as a side dish.
That leaves the other 8 or so that we haven’t eaten.
Applesauce is the perfect thing to make with old-ish apples, and it’s the perfect thing to make in a slow cooker. I think you’d have to work hard to overcook the apples. They gently steam and break down. You don’t have to do any work after you peel and cut them – and an apple peeler/corer makes this so much easier as to be practically no work at all. (My friend Kate got me one similar to this years ago, and I rediscovered it this year. It’s amazing!)
Also, you don’t have to add sugar to it. You pay a premium at the grocery store for no-sugar-added applesauce. I find that if I buy a jar of applesauce, I’m never in the mood for it and forget to eat it. Not so with this stuff. When I make applesauce, it disappears from my fridge within two days.
Slow Cooker Applesauce (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
9 apples, peeled and cored, and sliced into rings (I used Jonathans and 3 Granny Smiths)
2 wide peels of lemon rind (omit if using Granny Smiths)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup water (or apple cider/juice or orange juice for naturally sweeter applesauce)
[1/4 cup brown or granulated sugar is optional, but consider it if you want to counter the tartness of Granny Smiths]
Combine sliced apples with cinnamon in 4-quart slow cooker. Add 1/4 cup water. Nestle lemon zest among toward the bottom of the slower cooker so it sits in the water. Cook on low for 6 hours. Remove lemon peel. Mash and stir applesauce so that apples fall apart, or blend/puree if desired.
Since there’s not a lot of liquid in this, the apples toward the edges will caramelize and stick to the side of the slow cooker. This won’t be a problem. Just scrape them down and mash them up.
Honestly, you can hardly make something easier than this. This recipe yields tasty, wholesome applesauce. I’ve made applesauce with Granny Smiths (and more of them) before, but this applesauce seemed more tart than any others I’ve tried, so I don’t think lemon peel is necessary with them. I also don’t think sugar is necessary, and if I wanted to sweeten this applesauce my first choice would be to use juice or cider, and then I’d move on to brown sugar.
Try making applesauce! You’ll be happy that you did.