Until this weekend, I had a lot of apples sitting around my kitchen.
Having fruit just hanging around my house is highly unusual. We all like to eat fruit, and apples are a favorite of the girls. The apples I get from my CSA leave much to be desired from a cosmetic standpoint. They aren’t grocery-pretty: they are bumpy, and lumpy, and splotchy. Sweet inside, but with a facade that is hard to get past when you are used to acres and acres of shiny happy produce.
An additional problem is that apples are hard to pack in lunches. The girls eat more of an apple if it is sliced than if it is whole. A sliced apple is just going to brown in a lunch bag unless (apparently) lemon juice and rubber bands are used. Please, I barely have time to pack lunches. Plus, with Flora losing a tooth every other day, a sliced apple is just easier to eat. (I refuse to peel apples for my girls’ consumption, though.)
So: about 30 apples sitting on my counter, splotchy and going soft. Apples for eating should be crisp and juicy, and these apples were past their prime in that regard. Some apples I did have to toss due to brown, rotten spots or clear insect invasion. But many of them were fine, just unpretty.
I bet I could make applesauce from those apples, I told myself.
Now some people would have that thought, and just throw a bunch of apples in a pot or slow cooker and see what happened. Not me, I have to ask the Internet and find a recipe.
My query on Twitter for an applesauce recipe got a lot of responses, and that was where I was originally pointed toward a slow cooker. A follow up question (“Do I really have to peel all these apples?”) got a similar rate of response. (“YES!”) I also found a recipe in my vegetarian slow cooker book. (Der, should’ve looked there first.)
Adapted from Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker and every recipe that was emailed my way
3 pounds apples, peeled, cored, and cut up
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup brown sugar
juice from one lemon
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
Throw everything in a slow cooker, and turn it on low for five to six hours. I used an immersion blender (I love that thing) to turn the soft, cooked apples into sauce. Let cool. Spoon into a jar.
I gave Dan a taste. He wanted more. I gave him a bowl. He loved it. (Kate, also, LOVED IT.)
“What’s in this?” he demanded.
“Apples, water, brown sugar, and cinnamon,” I said.
“You’re lying. Nothing that tastes this good doesn’t have something in it that’s bad for me.”
“Okay. I’m lying.” I did forget to tell him about the lemon juice.
“I think I should take this jar to my office,” he said. “To protect everyone.” He’s a giver, that one.
Even after using three pounds of apples (about 12 medium and small apples), I still had 8 left over. So I peeled some more, chopped them up, and threw them in my trusty muffin recipe (one substitution of note: instead of vanilla extract, I used caramel-flavored extract, a whole teaspoon). The girls ate the peeled apples I didn’t use.
Kate helped me with the muffins, and she was quite critical of the result.
“These are pretty good,” she said, eating a still-warm muffin. “Pretty good. Next time, we should use bananas.”
Next Sunday’s muffins will be banana strawberry (I have a few cups of strawberries in my freezer). I am quite excited. So is Kate.