Slow Cooker Applesauce

My mom never ceases to amaze me.  I never knew she had a lifelong desire to have an apple orchard, until one day she and my dad were planting apple trees in their side yard.  Eleven trees and a lot of work later, she has an apple orchard.   I never knew how much fun it would be for me for her to have an apple orchard!  I mean come on!  I never knew I wanted so many apples!  I have been having a blast with her and these apples.  From watching my kids pick apples to dreaming of new things to create with them, the fun has yet to stop.  The other day I turned some Gala and McIntosh apples into some yummy applesauce using, you guessed it, my slow cooker!  It was easy, fun, and my house smelled amazing.

applesauce www.gourmommy.com

My great grandma had apple trees when my mom was young.  She has fond memories of those apples.  I think that’s where her idea to have an orchard came from.  Not only do you get this delicious fruit, but what a riot it is to go apple picking right in your own yard!  She is constantly taking care of the trees.  From pruning to spraying to checking daily for ripeness… needless to say these trees require some maintenance.  But the work definitely pays off, in bushels!

But as with life, nothing is perfect.  Some apples can have spots or bruises that don’t necessarily ruin the whole apple, and after all that work, it’s such a bummer to throw any away.  On the other hand, an apple with a weird spot isn’t one you’d want to just take a bite out of.  That’s where applesauce comes in!  Once you peel the apples, you’d never know the skin had spots or blemishes.  Pretty cool actually.  I guess that’s why apples have skin!

I am a total home-made applesauce convert at this point, sorry Mott’s.  I love to be in control of the ingredients, it freezes really well, it’s easy, and the taste is far superior to anything you get in the store.  I always make it with little or no sugar.  You can always add some later if you want, but the apples are pretty sweet already and I’ve never missed the sugar.  Just taste it as you go.  If it’s too tart, stir in some sugar and let it cook long enough for the sugar to dissolve.

In the past, I’ve always made applesauce in a big pot and you can certainly do that.  It’s a little faster that way, but you have to watch it more closely.  I really liked making it in the crock pot this year.  It was absolutely no fuss.  I spent so much time peeling, that it was nice to be able to let the slow cooker do the work while I played with the girls and picked my son up from school.  

Once the applesauce is done, let it cool completely before dividing into containers.  You can use plastic freezer containers, zip-top bags, or even mason jars.  Aside from eating, use your applesauce for baking.  It’s a great substitute for oil in recipes to make them a bit healthier.

Home-made Slow Cooker Applesauce

6 quarts of peeled and diced apples (about 20-25 small-med apples) Any single variety or a mixture of: Gala, McIntosh, Jonathon, Golden Delicious, or Cortland
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon (optional)
sugar to taste (optional)

Fill the crock of a 6 qt slow cooker with peeled and diced apples.  Sprinkle top with water, lemon juice, salt, cinnamon (optional), and sugar (optional).  Place the lid on the slow cooker.  Set to High.  Cook 3-4 hours, stirring about once per hour.  Once apples are soft, mash to desired consistency.  For chunky sauce, use a potato masher.  For smooth sauce, use an immersion blender.  Allow to cool completely before separating into freezer containers.  Keep in fridge up to two weeks, or freeze up to one year.

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