How ‘bout dem apples? For some reason, the summer/fall of 2017 has been a high production year for many Calgary area hobby gardeners, especially with apples and berries, and many of us are getting busy making sure our bounty isn’t wasted. We actually didn’t realize we even had an apple tree when we first bought our home in the winter. We figured it out once we got these gorgeous blooms in the spring!
I have found the best way to churn through a whole bunch of apples at once is with applesauce. This is also a great way to use all those apples that fall off the tree and are a little too bruised to eat fresh, but are still fine for baking. And of course there is the added bonus of being a baby and toddler friendly food, as well as being a good base for other recipes.
I started by googling apple sauce recipes. My criteria were to 1) not have to peel the apples, 2) make a very big batch, 3) not have to mash the apples by hand, and 4) find a slow cooker recipe so I could leave it overnight. I found this recipe from Whole and Heavenly Oven, but I made some alterations which is what I’d like to share with you here.
The most tedious part is chopping the apples. I’m oh so grateful to one of my aunts who bought us a cute turtle apple corer (like this) as a baby gift. First I cut off the bruises, then I use my tool to core and slice all at once. The first batch of applesauce I made I forgot about this tool, and I am pretty sure I would have gotten carpal tunnel by the end of apple season (not to mention permanently stained fingers), so it’s definitely worth having a tool to simplify the process. I choose to leave the peel on because well, this momma doesn’t have time for all that peeling nonsense, you get more nutrition that way, and my blender does a great job of giving me a smooth consistency at the end.
In the recipe I linked to above, it calls for cooking the apples on the stove, but I used my large six quart slow cooker from Breville. (This is the one I have, and I love how it has the pressure cook option too). For me, with little kids this is simpler than watching something on the stove. I just chop everything into my slow cooker, add my flavorings and some water, then let it cook overnight or through the day.
For cook time, you have a couple options. Most slow cooker recipes I have seen online call for cooking the apples on high for 4 hours – the heat helps gel up the apples. However, I tend to do the prep in the evening once my kids are in bed, leave it overnight and then use some of the warm sauce as part of my children’s breakfast, so I have found equal success cooking the apples on low for 7-8 hours. The apples reduce in size and I find with my large capacity, 64 oz blender (I have this Professional Vitamix) I am able to fit all the apples in at once. The blending process should puree the skin and meld all the flavours together. I let it cool, then spoon the sauce into freezer bags and store them in the freezer.
The recipe I modified from called for adding apple cider to the applesauce to zip up the apple flavour. This is a brilliant idea, but I didn’t have cider on me. Instead, I used Thrive Life Orchard Apple drink powder that I had on hand. Like many of my Thrive Life food products, it is super convenient! We don’t drink juice regularly in our home, so I find if I buy a box it ends up being partially wasted. As this drink powder lasts a year once open, this is a simple way to give my kids juice while being able to water it down as much as I want. I also like using it to make carbonated apple juice.
I also liked how the recipe called for coconut palm sugar, which we enjoy using as a more environmentally friendly alternative to brown sugar. I did find that my apples are quite sweet and I didn’t need nearly as much sugar as what the Whole and Heavenly Oven recipe called for though.
I should also note that ever since trying the Silk Road Spice Merchant Vietnamese Saigon cinnamon, I have become an absolute cinnamon snob! So I recommend you use a vibrant, high quality cinnamon for the best flavour. And if you are in the Calgary area, check out the Silk Road for all your spice needs!
When following these steps, the result is a sweet (but not too sweet), spicy, smooth sauce with a robust apple flavour. Enjoy!
6 Quarts (24 cups) of cored and sliced apples (can leave skin on)
½ – ¾ Cup of Warm Water (depending on how runny you want your sauce to be)
3 Tbsp of Thrive Life Orchard Apple powder
1-2 Tbsp of coconut palm sugar (or brown sugar)
1-2 Tsp of cinnamon
½ Tsp of fresh ground nutmeg
½ Tsp of ground cloves or just throw in a couple whole ones – they’ll get blended in later.
1.) Put all your cored and sliced apples in your large slow cooker pot.
2.) In a measuring cup (or a shaker bottle) mix up the Orchard Apple powder, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves with the warm water. Pour this mix over the apples.
3.) Slow cook on low for 7 hours or on high for 4 hours (approximately – play with it to see what you like best with your slow cooker).
4.) Take the cooked apples and blend them on medium to low. You might have to do this in two batches if you have a smaller blender, and depending on the power of your blender you will want to adjust the strength of the blend. The key is to just not blend it so high that it becomes too runny. You want it to still have that classic apple sauce texture.
5.) Let it cool. Leave it on the counter for an hour at most, or put it in the fridge if your days look anything like mine and you are prone to forgetting about it on your counter. Then distribute your apple sauce into your containers or freezer bags of choice, and freeze to use later.
HOW TO USE YOUR APPLE SAUCE
Well there are quite a few ways beyond eating it as-is. Here are a few, but please post your own comments with how you like to use apple sauce! I need more ideas!
- Pour warm apple sauce on pancakes or waffles as an alternative to syrup
- Mix it in to oatmeal or porridge
- Use it as a base for smoothies
- Dehydrate to make a fruit leather (here is a recipe for watermelon apple leather)
- Add any kind of other fruit or sweet vegetables to the base, blend again and have different flavoured sauces, so your children don’t get bored
- Pour into molds and make applesauce popsicles
- Use it in baking (my google search brought up this article with a few fun ideas)
*I am a Thrive Life Independent Consultant. I receive a commission if you purchase Thrive Life food products through me. All other product links are included for your reference only. Visit my Thrive Life Facebook page or see more Thrive Life products at kmeyers.thrivelife.com (or .ca in Canada).