Homemade applesauce is one of the easiest kitchen projects you can undertake, made even easier by using the slow cooker. All it takes is a short prep time, and in a few hours of inactive time you'll have the perfect applesauce to your taste — sweetened or unsweetened, coarse or smooth, spiced or plain, it's entirely up to you. The end product can be frozen or water bath canned for long-term storage.
There's no need for laborious peeling and coring of apples here. A simple food mill will take care of all that at the end of the process. The peels, especially from red apples, will give the final applesauce a lovely blush color. It's a good idea to use organic apples in this case since you'll be cooking the skins in with the sauce.
If, however, you prefer your applesauce much chunkier, then peel and core the apples first, and simply mash with a potato masher at the end until the desired consistency.
- 4 pounds (1.8 kg) apples
- 1/4 cup (57 g) light brown sugar OR 3 tablespoons (45 ml) honey (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)
- 1 cup (236 ml) water
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) lemon juice
- Wash the apples. If they feel waxy, scrub with a vegetable brush. Cut into slices or chunks no thicker than 3/4-inch.
- Put the prepped apple pieces into the slow cooker, and mix them with the sugar and spices, if using. If you are using honey rather than sugar, dissolve it in the water separately before adding to the apples.
- Combine the water and lemon juice. Pour the liquid over the apples. Give all of the ingredients in the slow cooker a good stir.
- Cover the slow cooker. Cook the applesauce on the low setting for 6 hours, or on the high setting for 3 hours.
- Depending on the consistency you like, run the sauce through a food mill using coarser or finer screens as desired. If you want an extra-smooth applesauce, purée the strained applesauce in a food processor or blender.
- To freeze, simply transfer the applesauce to freezer-safe containers or bags, removing as much air as possible, and freeze for up to 3 months.
- To can applesauce, fill clean pint or half-pint jars (it is not necessary to sterilize the jars for this recipe) leaving 1/2 inch of head space between the top of the food and the rims of the jars. Use a butter knife or a small spoon to release any air bubbles.
- Wipe off the rims of the jars with a moistened paper or clean cloth towel (any food stuck to the rims could prevent a good seal). Fasten canning lids. Process in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes. Adjust for your altitude if necessary.