Slow cooker applesauce
You know that awful feeling when you bite into an apple and it just gives way under your teeth? No matter how perfect that red delicious in your box lunch looks, its mealy insides never live up to your dreams of fresh crispness. Even our abundance of fresh-from-the-orchard apples eventually deteriorated, which can mean only one thing: applesauce! It’s the perfect solution.
But first, because I’m me, the origin of the problem. In a ripe apple, the cells are full to bursting with the juice that runs down your chin when you bite into it. The cells press up against each other like people in a crowded blue line train at rush hour, so they have nowhere to go when your teeth come crashing in and they break open for a crisp and juicy bite.
In an older apple, the cell walls have started to break down and the insides have lost some moisture and shrunk, opening up space between them. Up to a quarter of an apple’s volume is nothing but air, and at this point all of that empty space separates the individual cells from each other. Where a ripe apple was rush hour, an overripe apple has more in common with the much less claustrophobic midday train: there’s plenty of space between the cells and biting into the apple just pushes them aside without bursting any. So the flesh feels soft and tastes dry, and it’s enough to ruin you on apples for life.
Instead of suffering through those mealy, awful apples, take 15 minutes to chop them up and throw them in a slow cooker. Then walk away and come back to applesauce! Miraculous. The cooking releases all of the juice that your teeth can’t access, giving you an easy and delicious use for those less-than-perfect apples. I’m eating some for breakfast right now and it’s wonderful. Warmed up with ice cream? Even better.
Slow cooker applesauce
Take your mealy apples and turn them into applesauce! You only need 15 minutes and a slow cooker to revive those sad specimens into something much better.
Note: I left the skins on mostly because peeling all those apples sounded daunting, but it also gives you a lovely pink color and keeps more of the flavor and nutrition. Just give it a few pulses with an immersion blender at the end to break up the skins and you’re done.
Yield: about 2 quarts (or half the volume you start with)
6-7 pounds of apples (I used about 20)
1/2 c. water
1/4 c. maple syrup
1 t. cinnamon
Cut the apples into medium slices. (I like to slice off a side, right up to the core, then turn the cut side down and keep cutting and rotating until you’re left with a square core. No dangerous knife moves to get the seeds out? Yes please!)
Place the cut apples in your slow cooker and add the other ingredients. Cook on low for 5-6 hours, stirring occasionally. When the apples are soft and dissolve when you stir, it’s done. Pulse it with an immersion blender until you like the texture, then taste and adjust maple syrup and cinnamon if you want.
Science from McGee and The Kitchn.