Happy actual October! ‘Tis the season for buying and/or picking far too many apples, and figuring out what to do with them. Yay!
A fellow vendor recently gave me a large box of “ugly” apples to play with, which I’m always stoked to receive.
The ugliest (as in, least edible and in danger of rotting the other apples) go to the chickens, who eat them with gusto, soft spots and bugs be damned. I use the others for baked goods, including my yearly Caramel Apple Coffee Cake, regular Buttermilk Coffee Cake (with apples added), Apple Butter, and putting into paninis, salads, and other cooking applications for some crunch and sweetness/tartness.
But when I want to use a buttload of apples, fast, without much prep at all, I turn to homemade applesauce. The hardest thing about making applesauce is peeling and coring the apples, which is all done up front. I’ve got a friend who doesn’t even bother with the coring or peeling, and cooks the chopped apples as is, so if you don’t mind picking out the occasional seed or core bit, the less work for you! Me? I prefer to do my work while cooking, not eating.
You can make applesauce on the stovetop or, my personal favorite method, in a slow cooker. I prefer the slow cooker because a) my apples are less likely to burn, b) I don’t like adding liquid to my applesauce and c) it doesn’t heat up my house like the stove does, and it’s not quite cold enough here to want extra heat yet.
You can also sweeten and season your applesauce to your little heart’s content. I prefer to stick with cinnamon as my main seasoning, but have been known to add fresh ginger, allspice, nutmeg and the like. You can even add a hot pepper or cayenne if you’re a spicy boy or girl.
As far as sweetness, I usually leave the apples as sweet as they are, with perhaps an occasional drizzle of honey or maple syrup on an individual portion if I’m feeling frisky. Your sweetness preferences may also depend on the type of apples you use for saucing.
Mmm, applesauce. Let’s go!
You can use the stovetop or the slow cooker. The slow cooker will take longer, but is much less likely to burn and is almost entirely hands-off.
you will need:
- 12-16 cups peeled, cored, chopped apples
- ½ c water or apple cider (if using the stovetop)
- 1-2 cinnamon sticks (optional)
- optional add-ins: fresh grated ginger, powdered ginger, allspice, nutmeg, cloves; sugar, honey, or maple syrup to taste
- Stovetop Directions: Place apples, water, cinnamon (if using), and any other spices in a large stockpot. Bring the mixture to a low boil on medium heat, then reduce to a simmer on low, cover, and cook for 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally and adding water or cider as necessary to keep the mixture from burning, until the apples are fully cooked and soft enough to mash by stirring. Add sweetener if desired. Store in small airtight containers in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks.
- Slow Cooker Directions: Place apples, cinnamon sticks, and any other spices into the crock of a slow cooker. (Be sure not to overload it – leave at least an inch or so of space between the top of the apples and the top of the crock.) Cook on low heat for about 3-4 hours, stirring occasionally and adding water or cider as necessary for desired texture, until apples are soft enough to mash by stirring. Add sweetener if desired. Store in small airtight containers in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks.