I took the parents picking in August, but there weren't many varieties available that early in the season. This time they had gala (pictured above), empire, courtland, and jonathan varieties, and I came home with a mix of all of them (and quite a few in my stomach). Before we even arrived at the orchard, I knew that I wanted to make applesauce.
Applesauce isn't very difficult to make on the stove, but I love the crock pot method because it allows me to throw the apples in the crock, go for a run, eat dinner, work on applications, and then have an amazing dessert ready at the end of the evening. A few weeks ago I had some applesauce at Zingerman's, and it was fantastic. By pure coincidence, this tasted almost exactly the same. I guess that's what happens when you rely solely on the unadulterated apple flavors. This is so simple, yet perfect. I prefer leaving the peel on, too, because it gives the sauce a fabulous color and provides a little bit of texture. I enjoyed it warm, but it's also good cold. You could throw cinnamon or honey in if you want, but I'm having trouble adding anything else because it's so good by itself. I'm already planning to make more of this to freeze, and I also want to make more with different varieties as they come into season. Hmmm... I wonder how many times I can go picking this year. I'm submitting this dish to Weekend Herb Blogging, which is organized by Haalo from Cook (almost) Anything At Least Once, and is hosted by Graziana from Erbe in cucina this week.
Crock pot applesauce (adapted from "Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook" by Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufmann)
20 small to medium apples (ideally use a variety), cored and quartered
juice of half lemon
Toss apples in lemon juice in a large crock pot (I used a 5 1/2 qt one). Cook on low for 5 to 6 hours. Mash apples with a potato masher or ricer and try not to eat the entire crock of applesauce. Makes about 6 cups.