Simple Applesauce

~9 medium sized apples
½ cup brown sugar
1 cup apple cider or natural apple juice
1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground nutmeg

  • Core the apples and chop them into chunks. They don’t need to be too small, but make sure they’re approximately the same size so that they cook at the same time. No need to peel them! The peel will soften and fall off while cooking, and the immersion blender takes care of the rest.
  • Add the apple chunks to a slow cooker or a large stock pot. Add the brown sugar, apple cider, cinnamon, and nutmeg, stirring to combine and coat the apples evenly.
  • Cover and cook the apple mixture on High for about an hour (in the slow cooker) or in the stockpot over medium heat for about 20 minutes. The apples should be very soft and aromatic.
  • Let the mixture cool a bit, and then use an immersion blender to blend the apples until they’ve reached your desired consistency.

Our area of Western Massachusetts has been, for the last couple of months, heavy with apples. So many of the hilltops around here are lined with apple trees of local orchards selling apples, peaches, pears, cider, and pies. In the last week or so, though, the season has come to an end. The orchards have closed up shop for the season and the apple trees are mostly bare, with only a few undersized apples still hanging from their branches.

One of these local orchards agreed to let James and I glean whatever apples were left, either the ones on the ground that were still intact and uneaten by insects or the remaining rejects hanging on the trees. Never ones to pass up free food, we hefted a shopping bag and took a walk through the trees. Our standards for what we would take home with us were fairly low — as long as the apples only had soft spots or an isolated area of damage, we would put it in the bag. Given those low standards, we filled up a bag pretty quickly, after only a couple of hundred yards of walking. So we came back with more bags and reinforcements — James’s parents had been visiting, and we recruited them to help us.

Back at home, we dumped apples into the sink to be washed, and then, after rinsing, stacked them on the counter to dry and wait as we figured out what to do with all of them. A good number of apples got peeled and sliced and spritzed with lemon juice and bagged and frozen, ready to become pie or crumble filling at a moment’s notice. But, even once that was over, we still had pounds and pounds of apples left. A low effort, delicious, and freezable solution was applesauce. If you, like us, have a few more apples hanging around than you really know what to do with, I highly recommend giving applesauce a try. It makes for a great snack, either on its own or mixed in with some yogurt and granola. It also makes a great side for certain dinners, and it can be used in a ton of baking recipes in place of cooking oil. I just made gingerbread muffins with applesauce and chopped up apples in them, and while the recipe isn’t ready to share on the blog (great flavors, but too raw, even after lots of cooking time…), it’s another example of all the things you can do with some applesauce on hand!

What are your favorite things to make with applesauce?

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