Ah, fall...my favorite season. The scenic beauty, the crunch of leaves underneath your favorite pair of boots, the awesome outdoor fun, and the FOOD! My word, the FOOD! One of the first things we got on the calendar this season was apple picking. My son is 2 1/2 and the PERFECT age for this activity--it requires a scenic drive (relaxing for Mom, and a great nap-or-tunity for the little guy), getting dirty, running around, retrieving healthy foods for minimal cost and maximum fun, education, and a bounty of goodness with which to create amazing fall recipes. Total win-win situation.
While Ralston ran giddily through the orchard, I thought about what we'd do with our 15 pound sack of deliciousness. Uh, of COURSE applesauce was the first on the list. Any food that can masquerade as breakfast, snack, or side dish (that is healthy and naturally sweet and, therefore, ALWAYS toddler friendly) is a welcome addition in my kitchen. However, I didn't want to slave over it--so I busted out my sidekick, my fall and winter partner-in-crime, my most trustworthy sous chef--my crock pot!
Here's what you need:
A Crock Pot
A multitude of apples (as much as can fit in your crock pot in a variety of flavors)
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp agave nectar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
An immersion blender (or you can use a regular blender and do this step in batches)
Now for the super simple process. Seriously, this is VERY easy! Wash your apples well. I pile them in the sink and give them a quick scrub with cool water and a splash of white vinegar, and rinse them well. Quarter the apples, cut the cores out, and slice them. This is a no-peel recipe, which is what makes it so fast! Peeling the apples is not only a pain in the you-know-what (unless you have a cool peeler, but even then...), but there is so much good nutritious stuff in the skins, especially when you've chosen organically-grown fruits. The blender will handle the peels later. Once you've filled your crock pot to the brim with sliced apples, add the water and spices. Put the lid on. Cook it on low for 8 hours. Pretty easy so far, right? The hardest part about this will be smelling it all day!
Once your apples have cooked down to a deliciously tender mix, pop your immersion blender in there and puree to your heart's content. I like a smooth sauce so that I can pour it into these nifty, eco-friendly, resuable squeezie packs that my son can eat on-the-go, but you can easily make a well-textured applesauce by not blending it for as long. You can also use a regular blender and puree in batches. My recommendation? Everyone that cooks should have an immersion blender. It's an inexpensive investment that will open up your options and make so many recipes THAT MUCH easier! You can pour your sauce into mason jars, seal them, and store them in your refrigerator (or give them to people who you really like as tasty and thoughtful gifts) or freeze it in small containers or Ziploc bags. The choice is yours. This stuff is uh-may-ZING and will surely become one of your go-to fall recipes year after year! ENJOY!