Suburban Pioneers

The Adventures and Misadventures of Homesteading in 21st-Century America

Lauren: Homemade Slow Cooker Applesauce November 8, 2013

I’m all about low-maintenance these days. You’ll usually find my hair in a ponytail and probably with some dry shampoo in it. I just haven’t mastered the art of showering with kids yet. In case you were wondering, here’s why:

1. If I shower in the morning, I’ll wake them up (not worth it).

2. I don’t want to waste any of the precious two hours of nap time I get in the afternoon (not worth it).

3. If I let the kids roam free while I’m getting clean, I spend the whole time stressed out and listening for the sound of crying or, just as dangerous, too much laughter (not worth it).

4. I don’t like showering at night because then my pillow gets wet and I have funky-looking hair in the morning.You might ask why I don’t just blow-dry it. Well, Sarah’s mom’s theory about drying dishes is: why spend time doing something that will happen eventually (not worth it).

And you thought this post was about apples. . . Well, it is, I promise, I just had to rant about showering first.

I feel the same way about dry shampoo as I do about the low maintenance of Homemade Crock Pot Applesauce. (How’s that for a segue?) All you have to do is throw some apples in the slow cooker, come back in a few hours, blend it up and tada! Applesauce. Easy Peasy.

We normally go apple-picking, but we’re kind of traveled-out right now so we skipped the 1.5 hour drive and picked our apples from the farmer’s market. To be honest, I kind of liked it better. We were able to buy a wide variety without having to walk down 4 sides of a mountain and still had the rest of our morning to do whatever we wanted! Shower, perhaps? Nah. . . probably not.

What to do:

1. Cut up 10-12 apples. Use an apple slicer if you have one. You don’t need to peel the apple. Yep, that’s right. I mean, you can if you want to, if you are an overachiever or something. . . or you have an extra 20 minutes to spare.

2. Throw the apple wedges in the Crock Pot.

3. Add 1/2 cup apple cider or water. Apple cider will give the applesauce a little more of a spicy, sweet flavor. You could also add a tsp. of cinnamon. Some people add sugar, but I don’t think it’s necessary. If you get the sweeter apples, the applesauce will be tasty enough on its own. See this previous post for apple varieties.

4. Turn the Crock Pot on low and let it simmer for 5-6 hours, until the apples get mushy.

5. Go about your day.

6. Use an immersion blender to blend it all up. (My immersion blender was seriously the best $4 I ever spent at Goodwill.) The flecks of peel are so tiny, you won’t even notice them. Or you could run it through a blender or food mill.

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6. Pour the applesauce in mason jars and stick them in the fridge.

If you want to can the applesauce you’ll need:

Water bath canner (or, if you’re like me, a big stockpot and round cake pan rack)

Jars and Lids

(Makes 5-6 half-pints)

1. Sterilize the jars and lids

2. Pour applesauce into jars. Leave 1/2 inch head space. If you’re messy like me, wipe the rims with a clean towel or rag.

3. Screw on the lids.

4. Place jars in boiling water. Once the water returns to a boil, reduce heat (so it’s still boiling but won’t overflow), cover with a lid, and process it for 15 minutes.

5. Voila’! Applesauce. Store in your pantry and bust it out in the dead of winter when you want a taste of pure fall.

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Lauren: It’s Apple Time October 25, 2012

Filed under: Food & Cooking — lkcook20 @ 12:42 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

It’s that time of year again, when the air turns crisp, when the leaves change to glorious reds, yellows, and oranges, when pumpkin patches open, and when my family and I head out to our favorite tree-climbing scavenger hunt: apple picking.

 

 

I love local apples. They feel a little rough, not waxy so they don’t need to be drowned in vinegar to get the yuckiness off. Picking them yourself is a little more work, but cheaper than the grocery store or farmers market.  Another perk where we go: apple cider doughnuts. Enough said.

There are three rules we all abide by: (1) using an apple picker tool is cheating, (2) the best apples are at the top of the tall trees, (3) you have to eat the first good apple you pick.

Rule number two got me into a little trouble in college on my first apple-picking outing. I climbed up a tall tree, sat on a branch, and stretched my arm out towards the perfect apple. The next thing I knew, I was flipping through the air and then my feet were hitting the ground. This time I decided not to attempt any gymnastic feats. I didn’t want any one else in my party to feel inferior.

After all was said and done, our two bags were full and we managed not to let our three-year-old wander off. On our way back to pay for our bounty, we noticed a couple of tears in our heavy-duty bags and envisioned an avalanche of our precious apples rolling down the orchard hill. We double-bagged and brought them all home safely. Lots and lots of apples, perfect for making applesauce and apple butter. I also planned on canning some applesauce in those cute little jars, too, for baby food on the go. I know its more work and you can just buy those little plastic containers at the grocery store, but I love the idea of giving baby A. local, unsweetened applesauce.

As far as preparations for canning go, I like that you don’t have to peel the apples before you cook them (unlike peaches or tomatoes). But, later, the recipes call for running the hot hot cooked apples through a sieve or food mill.  I’ve always ignored that step. I have to confess, I didn’t really know what a food mill was and assumed it was sort of like a blender. Instead, I usually picked out the peels by hand until I got so bored and frustrated that I just ground them up with the apples. This year, I tried several different methods for getting the peels out including my fingers (ouch!), two forks, and, my favorite, a potato masher and a wooden spoon.

My husband preferred the two forks method. He asked me if he was doing it wrong because it was taking so darn long. No, it’s just that slow going, we realized, when I couldn’t go any faster. The potato masher/wooden spoon method involves scooping up some applesauce in the potato masher, pressing down with the wooden spoon until the apple falls through the holes and you are left with the peel on top. Then the peel is transferred to another bowl for composting. So this involves picking out the peels one by one. Let’s see if I can do some math (always questionable): I chopped twenty-four apples into eighths with an apple corer. 8 times 24 equals 192 apple peels. Picked. Out. By. Hand. Wow. Writing that makes it seem even more ridiculous.

I know, so silly right?

And here comes the epiphany: Sometimes it’s not worth it to be cheap! Like a politician, I am changing my stance on this issue. I now believe it is worth the thirty bucks to own a food mill. It would save SO much time and energy. If you’re going to make applesauce or apple butter more than once in your entire life, invest in a food mill. Here’s one from Amazon I’m thinking about getting for next year.

It’s kind of embarrassing how often I need to learn this lesson about being too frugal. . .

Canning Applesauce Recipe

24 medium chopped, cored, and quartered apples (or enough to fill your largest pot) I use a mixture of apples. If you use sweet apples (Gala, Winesap, Fuji, Red Delicious, Yellow Delicious, McIntosh, Jonagold) then you don’t have to add extra sugar.

2 cups of water

1. In an 8-10 quart pot, combine apple and water. Bring to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer, covered for 25-35 minutes or until the apple is soft and peel dislodges easily. Stir often.

2. Press apple through a food mill or sieve (or some homemade equivalent). Return to pot. Add water if you think it is too thick and/or cinnamon, to taste.

3. Scoop hot applesauce into sterilized pint canning jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Wipe jar rims; adjust lids. Process in covered canner or pot for 15 minutes (timer starts when water returns to a boil). Remove jars and cool them on racks. This makes about 6 pints.

Enjoy and if you used a food mill pat yourself on the back for saving time!

The finished product

 

 
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