I’ve been making homemade applesauce for years now. It’s so easy to make, and the results are so much better than what you buy in a jar. The crockpot makes it especially easy, so easy that anyone can do it.
You can. I’m sure of it.
Seriously. You’ll peel the apples, turn on the crock-pot, and then you walk away for some hours.
I actually forgot about my applesauce this time, allowing it to cook all afternoon and overnight. When I remembered it the next day (when I was making breakfast), it had gotten a little closer to apple butter than apple sauce, but it still tastes great.
Unless you let it cook wildly too long (like many days), you don’t have to worry about burning applesauce when you make it in the crockpot. When making it on the stove top, you have to keep careful watch and stir often to prevent sticking and burning.
This time, I did a typical Tara thing and went overboard with my preparation for a homeschool lesson on apples.
I was planning to do an apple taste test with my daughter, and I found 15 different varieties of apples.
So I bought 15 different varieties of apples.
So my applesauce was made with 15 different apples, no 2 alike. It came out with a really, really, really nice flavor, so I highly recommend using a bunch of different kinds of apples.
The clerk at the checkout might not appreciate your one-of-each method (some of my apples came from Wal-Mart where each and every apple had to be weighed and rung up separately), but if you go to the farmer’s market, they probably won’t care as much. My farmers’ market was perfectly happy to hand me a basket and let me get whatever combination of apples I wanted. They sold me one of each apple, piled into a half-peck basket.
If you’re going to use a lot of one variety of apple, my recommendation is the Honeycrisp which comes close to being God’s perfect apple in every possible way.
Homemade Applesauce in the Crockpot
I have a couple of notes to share before I get started with the recipe.
First, I have a 6-quart crockpot, and my 15 raw apples completely filled it to the top. They cooked down by more than half, leaving me with a little less than 3 quarts of applesauce.
Second, homemade applesauce doesn’t have the same consistency as store-bought applesauce. I think this is a good thing, but if you’re not used to it, you may be surprised. If you want it to be really smooth (why would you?!), you can purée the applesauce or put it through a food mill or grinder.
If you ruin your applesauce in that way, we can’t be friends any more.
But don’t invite me over for homemade pureed applesauce. I like mine to have some chunks.
Third, there will most likely be a thin liquid atop your applesauce. Leave the lid off of the crockpot if you want to get rid of that.
Fourth, here is my finished applesauce:
Just after the apples soften, they are yellowish.
If you continue to cook them (on purpose or by forgetting about them), the sauce turns brown. There’s very little difference in the flavor of yellow and of brown applesauce. The brown is maybe a little sweeter and a little thicker.
If you leave the sauce a long time, like most of a day or overnight, it will eventually turn into apple butter. If you aren’t familiar, apple butter is a sweet paste that you can spread on toast instead of jelly. It is heavenly, so if you overcook your applesauce significantly, just skip the sugar and enjoy it as a condiment instead of a side dish.
- 15 apples
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon (okay, I admit it. I have no clue how much I used as I just dumped and stirred and dumped and stirred. I imagine it was around a tablespoon, but do what I did and season it to your liking.)
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (see above)
- Peel, core, and chop your apples. If you have an apple wedger, that works really well. Wedge the apples, then peel the sections. If you have an apple peeler/corer/slicer, use that. If you just have a knife, then cut the apples in half and half again and peel the quarters. This is super easy, I promise.
- Put the apples in the crockpot, put the lid on, turn it on low, and walk away. In a 3-4 hours, come back and look at it. Stir the apples.
- Repeat, stirring every 3-4 hours until the apple wedges turn into applesauce. You’ll know when that happens. You can’t miss it.
- Taste your applesauce. If you want it to be a little sweeter, add 1/2 cup of sugar. (I usually add sugar.) Next, add some cinnamon and a wee bit of pumpkin pie spice. I try to stick to a 3:1 ratio on those, but please, go with your tastebuds. Keep tasting and adding spices until it’s perfect.
- Let the applesauce cook another hour or so to blend the flavors. It’s done and ready to eat.