Last weekend while I was procrastinating about my coursework for the week (Funny how all my worst habits from college are rearing their ugly head. Thankfully this week’s class still went pretty well anyhow.) I decided it was time to whip up something special using my fresh produce. My produce drawers have been out of control lately and I knew that if I ever hoped to get this week’s CSA share to fit I needed to make some room. The challenge was I had limited time and room in my waistline to spare, so I needed something healthy and easy. After reading Shannon from Tri to Cook rave about homemade apple sauce I decided it was time to whip out the slowcooker and make some. I’d never actually had homemade apple sauce and didn’t particularly like the store-bought kind that much (although I do use it often as a fat substitute in baked goods) so I had no idea what to expect. Generally I agree with Shannon’s take on things so I decided if she liked homemade apple sauce perhaps I would to.
I had just a couple of criteria for the winning apple sauce recipe. First, I wanted something that would be low in added sugar. I generally think of applesauce as a ‘healthier’ food so in my mind if I’m going to add a lot of sugar to it (some recipes called for at least 1/2 cup of sugar) I’d rather just make muffins or a crisp. I ended up adapting a recipe from Erin’s Food Files for Crockpot Applesauce. I loved that the recipe only called for 1 tablespoon of added sugar and that it used lemon juice and peel for added brightness. I adapted it slightly based on the apples I had on hand and a desire for a little spice to kick things up. The resulting recipe couldn’t have been easier. In six hours I’d gone from half a produce drawer full of orchard-fresh apples to silky, spicy apple sauce. It had a lovely tartness and an aromatic scent that tasted like fall in a bowl. Best of all, periodic tastings of the apple sauce as it simmered away led to a revelation: applesauce is really good hot. Since I’m generally not a fan it’s no surprise I’ve never had it this way before, but it was easily my favorite way to eat it. I loved how the heat made certain flavors more apparent and upped the comfort food factor. I’m not sure I’ll ever be a bonifed applesauce lover, but this recipe convinced me that fresh is a world away from store bought. Now I just need to whip up something worth pairing with such delicious apple sauce like some potato pancakes or pork.
Yields 1 quart
-8 cooking apples (I used a mix of McIntosh and Gravenstein but any apple that is recommended for cooking will do), peeled, cored, and roughly chopped
-1 tablespoon raw sugar
-Juice of 1/2 lemon
-strip of lemon peel (Mine was approximately 1/2 inch x 2 inches)
-1/2 cup water
-1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
Combine all ingredients and cook over low heat for 6 hours. Remove peel, and mash or blend to desired consistancy. Enjoy or refrigerate for later.