~Please Pass the Homemade Crockpot Applesauce~
When my family of five sat down to dinner, unlike a host of other foods, I never had occasion to say "eat your applesauce". When applesauce was on the dinner table my kids would eat it. Applesauce had bargaining power too: "Finish your pork chop, then you can have another helping of applesauce." "Eat half of your green beans and you can have more applesauce." There's more: My boys weren't "big" on eating apple slices, but, if there was applesauce in the refrigerator, they were happy to slather it on a Ritz with a piece of Cracker Barrel cheddar.
For the obvious reason, I've always associated "back to school" with applesauce making: The kids went back to school after Labor day and apples started appearing at our local fruit farm's roadside stand. Over the years I've made applesauce with all sorts of different apples and combinations of different apples, but these days, I make it with Fuji's alone -- picked straight from our backyard tree.
A bit about the Fuji apple:
Named for the Japanese town of Fujisaki, the super-crispy, super-sweet Fuji apple was introduced in the USA by Japan in the 1980's, and, nowadays, they've become so popular that we produce more of them than they do. Known for its hard texture and syrupy sweetness, it is perfect for eating as is, adding fresh to salads or cooked into baked desserts. They have a long shelf life too -- several months if kept in a cool place and up to a year if stored in the refrigerator.
The slow-cooker was originally invented by Chicago's Irving Naxon (Naxon Utilities Corporation). It was introduced, in August 1970, as the Naxon All-Purpose Cooker, or Bean Cooker. As the story goes, Irving was a great inventor but lacked marketing skills and his bean machine flopped. Later that same year, the Rival company bought Naxon and reintroduced the product in 1971 under the trademarked "Crock-Pot" name.
Shortly after I got married in 1974, the crock-pot craze occurred -- every new bride got one, including me. That said, for twenty+ years, I continued to make applesauce on the stovetop the way my grandmother did. It's not hard to do, but you do have to babysit it (carefully watch it as it simmers). Four years ago this October, I invested in a new crockpot with a 6-quart capacity. I don't think I had it a week when I noticed a crockpot applesauce recipe in the newspaper. Using my own recipe, I threw all of my ingredients into the crock and never looked back.
1/2 cup apple juice
1 cup lightly-packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
~ Step 1. Rinse/wash the apples in cold water then coarsely chop them, placing them in a 6-quart crockpot as you work. Add the apple juice, followed by the brown sugar, ground cinnamon, ginger and cloves. There is no need to stir anything yet.
~ Step 5. To process my applesauce, I use a hand-held stick blender -- it keeps all of the mess in one spot (the crockpot). If you do not have one, a food processor fitted with a steel blade or an ordinary blender will work fine too.
Note: Even if you like your applesauce chunky-style, you really do have to process it somewhat, to keep it from being a bit watery.
When it comes to applesauce, I like mine silky smooth, so, I give mine a solid 1-2 minutes of whirring with the stick blender.
If you followed my recipe, you will have 3 quarts of applesauce. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until well-chilled, several hours or overnight (overnight is best). Once chilled, I portion mine into 2-cup containers and freeze to have on hand all year round. Thaw in the refrigerator.
Applesauce: Subtley-spiced & silky-smooth...
Special Equipment List: chef's knife; cutting board; 6-quart crockpot; large spoon; plastic wrap; soup ladle; 6, 2-cup sized food storage containers w/tight-fitting lids
Cook's Note: My nicely-spiced applesauce is the secret ingredient in my ~ Nana's Applesauce-Oatmeal-Raisin-Walnut Cake ~. This is indeed my favorite Fall-cake recipe. Click into Category 6 or 19 to get this heirloom recipe.
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2015)