Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Crockpot Applesauce (Recipe ReDux)

I'm one day late for this month's Recipe ReDux, but better late than never, right? I loved this month's theme because it's all about using a kitchen tool I use tons this time of year: the good ole crockpot. It sits a little lonely in my kitchen island all summer long, but as soon as the cool weather hits that thing gets dusted off and used almost weekly. Matt usually plugs it in every Sunday to cook up a batch of chili, soup or pulled chicken to eat for lunches for the week, and I usually make some kind of dinner with it every other week or so.

This month, though, the Recipe ReDux challenge was to use our crockpots in new ways other than for the typical slow cooker casseroles. Now I definitely am a fan of traditional crockpot fare, like spinach lasagna and tomato bean soup, but I also like to use the crockpot for desserts, cornbread and other fun things. I even have a mini crockpot I use to make dips or to simmer cinnamon sticks to perfume the house at the holidays.

But I also love to use it to make the easiest applesauce ever.

Making homemade applesauce is pretty easy no matter which way you do it, but in the crockpot it's really no muss, no fuss - like all crockpot dishes. I don't have to worry about keeping an eye on the boiling fruit or stirring it often; I can just throw everything in and let it do its thing while I run errands or whatever, then puree it up and store it in Mason jars in the fridge.

I also love making the sauce homemade because then I know what's really in it. Most of the commercial applesauces contain tons of (unnecessary) sugar and preservatives, and it's usually really hard for me to find the one brand I don't mind buying for Riker - Vermont Village Organic. The brand is hit or miss at my ShopRite so I can't rely on being able to find it, which presents a challenge having a kid at home who loves eating applesauce. So, I make it myself. I can use organic apples, agave nectar (or no sugar, depending on the sweetness of the apples), lots of cinnamon and nutmeg, and even additional fruits if I feel like jazzing up the flavor. You can also puree it super smooth or leave it a little chunky if that's your preference. It's so easy and so versatile!

Crockpot Applesauce

Makes about 6 cups

8 apples (I use organic Macintosh or Yellow Delicious)
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. agave nectar or honey
1/2 cup water or unsweetened apple juice
1 tsp. lemon juice

Wash, core and cut apples into large chunks (I leave the skins on half for added fiber). Add them to the crockpot along with all other ingredients. Cook on high for 2-3 hours, until apples are soft. Turn off heat and puree with an immersion blender, or in a food processor. Store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

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