This dead-easy version of homemade applesauce has no added sugar and only a couple of ingredients. You don't need to watch it, you don't need to know how to can, and the only special ingredient you need is a slow cooker. (You could also do this on the stovetop, but it's more complicated then.)
- A bunch of sweet apples. You can use all one type or mix them up: try Fuji, Gala, Yellow Delicious, etc. Granny Smith are probably too tart for most people; Red Delicious get kinda mushy.
- Some cinnamon. I didn't measure, but probably put in a couple of tablespoons. Use more or less — or none at all — depending on your taste.
- Up to a cup of liquid — water, juice, apple cider.
Step One: Fill your slow cooker with whole apples, just so you can get an estimate of how many you need. (My 8-quart model took four big apples and six small ones — you want the crock to be at least 3/4 full, and they will reduce in size as they cook.)
Consider your storage plans: the applesauce will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days, but if you make more than your household can eat in that time, you'll want to have some freezer space available.
Step Two: Peel and core the apples. If you have a fancy tool, I envy you. If you have a less-fancy tool or two, you'll be done sooner. But if you just peel with a knife or veggie peeler, then quarter the apples and slice out the cores, that works too.
However you cut them — chunks or slices — at least get them smaller than halves. Smaller pieces will cook more quickly.
Step Three: Put the apple pieces (minus cores and peels) in the slow cooker and add the cinnamon. Pour in a small amount of liquid (I had leftover juice from some canned pears in my freezer, so I used that).
Step Four: Cover and set your slow cooker to Low.
Step Five: Cook for 4-5 hours on Low. Your kitchen will smell like apple pie!
Step Six: Around the four-hour mark, take a peek and stir the apples to see how easily they break apart. When they are soft enough to break down, you can mash them with a fork or use a whisk for a couple of minutes to make chunky applesauce. (If you'd prefer a smoother texture, you can transfer small batches of applesauce to a blender or food processor, or use an immersion blender right in the slow cooker.) Careful — it's HOT!
Eat warm or let it cool (and then store in the fridge or freezer). You might want to freeze the applesauce in small plastic containers or zip-top bags for single-portion lunch packing.
I think this would be really good on vanilla ice cream, or maybe German pancakes (have you seen this adorable muffin-tin mini version?), but I ate a couple bowls of applesauce all by itself. It was so sweet and delicious, even without extra sugar. I may never get store-bought again!