Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Whatch Cookin' Wednesday - Applesauce

You've heard me preach it, folks:

Buy seasonal food in bulk.  

It's a smart way to get real food at the best prices while at it's peak flavor. I'm over the moon that apples are in season right now. (Seriously, this morning I woke up thinking about rustic apple tarts. No joke.) That means those delicious red/gold/yellow/green/pink fruits are in abundance. And inexpensive.

In my area (East TN), organic apples are about $1.10/lb., which is down from about $2.25/lb in the off-season, and maybe even less expensive if a local farmer has a surplus they want to unload.  What does this mean for my family?  Copious amounts of applesauce!  And yes, rustic apple tarts.

A 25 oz. jar of organic applesauce at my local market costs about $3.60 - 4.00. Ouch. If I ration it carefully (or mix it with yogurt to make it last longer), I might get a jar to last about a week.  I use it in baked goods, we pack it in school lunches, it makes a great ice cream topping... We typically go through about 2-4 jars a month. That's approximately $14.50.

A month...

For applesauce.

Per year? About $175 buckaroos. Super ouch. 

Now, when I make homemade applesauce the cost goes down to about $1.35 for same-sized jar. Sweeeet. And yummy. That's about $3.50 for about 64 oz. of organic, delicious, good-for-you, proud-to-serve, tunny-pleasing, HEALTHY, applesauce.

Another bonus: It's easy! You can make a humongous batch of applesauce in your Crock Pot with very little effort. (Save for the peeling part but it's not too bad if you've got some tunes goin'. I found that Lily Allen is darn near perfect apple peeling music.) Get the kids in on the act. Let your munchkins measure the spices, how many cups of apples needed, and more. A great math lesson, plus they get the eat the fruits of their labor.

Store your sauce in Mason jars in the freezer (be sure to leave at least 1/2" of headspace) or use the super-easy water bath canning method for long-term preserving.

Crock Pot Applesauce
(Yields about 64 oz. For you bad-at-math canners, that's two quarts or four pints or a quart and two pints.)
-3 lbs. or about 12-15 medium-sized apples - peeled, cored, and chopped. (I use a mix of tart and sweet varieties such as a Gala and Granny Smith)
-4 tsp. lemon juice
-sweetener - sugar, honey, agave - to taste (we skip the sweetener since most apples are sweet enough on their own)

Tip: Use non-stick spray on inside of Crock Pot before adding apples.  Makes clean-up a breeze... 

Add lemon juice and apples to Crock Pot. (UPDATED 5.1.13 - please note that I no longer add lemon juice! We didn't see any notable difference when we omitted it so now we just leave it out.)

Stir to combine.

Sprinkle cinnamon on mixture, just to cover lightly.

Set on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours.


THAT'S IT.  (Told ya it was easy.) We eat as-is -- a little on the chunky side. If you prefer a smooth sauce, blend to desired consistency in blender or Cuisinart. A hand blender used directly in the Crock Pot works great too. (Use water as needed to get the right texture.)

By the way, this applesauce makes great a Christmas gift.  Can it in a lovely Mason jar, add a fun tag and you're good to go.

Organically yours,


Do you have a fave seasonal Crock Pot recipe?  I'd love to hear about it.  Please post in comments!

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