One of the biggest flavors of fall happens to be pumpkin and I can jive with that. Having been raised in Northern Michigan, however, when I think of fall comfort food my mind goes to apples. We have so many orchards in our region we are able to get our hands on a wide variety of locally grown apples.
I’ve already canned a half bushel of honeycrisp apples into applesauce and put my canner to rest for a few months (my husband was very happy to have our kitchen back in order). When one of our local farmers brought these beautiful cameo apples in I could not resist putting another batch of applesauce in the freezer.
Cameo apples originate from Washington state and are identifiable by their beautiful striping. They are very hardy and crisp apples with a flavor notes of citrus and honey. Due to their hardiness they are a great choice for baking and canning and have an amazing crunch to them when eaten raw.
To help you get started, here are a few supplies you will need:
- 6 quart slow cooker: a quarter bushel (about 8-10 pounds) will fit.
- Food processor or blender: I personally love my immersion blender.
- 3 tablespoons of lemon juice: to help preserve flavor and color.
- 1/2 cup of apple juice: this is to help scorching and aids in the cooking process. You will want to use 100% apple juice or you may use water.
- Additions (optional): 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/4 cup of white or brown sugar.
When chopping your apples you will want to take into consideration how long you want them to cook for. I cut mine into larger chunks and it can take up to 12 hours to fully cook down. I like to turn my crock pot on warm and let them cook overnight. Cutting them into smaller chunks and setting the crock pot to low allows for a shorter cooking time but you will have to stir more often. Because this batch was going into the freezer I did not peel the apples; I honestly think you lose some fundamental nutrients when you peel them.
You can tell when the apples are ready when they disintegrate when stirring. This is when I take my immersion blender and blend to my desired consistency right in the slow cooker. If you’re using a food processor or stand blender you will need to remove the apples in small batches. I blended this batch down to a very fine consistency as I want to use this for our newborn when she starts eating solid foods. We also as a family prefer smooth applesauce rather than chunkier versions.
I fully cool my applesauce and then place in the fridge overnight before I prepare it for the freezer. I package four cups of applesauce into gallon size freezer bags for easier handling. This helps the bag not burst when the applesauce expands in the freezer. I also froze some of the applesauce into ice cube trays and will pop the cubes into a freezer bag when frozen through. The applesauce will keep in the freezer for up to six months. If you would like to keep some fresh in your fridge it will be good for up to three weeks in an airtight container.
- Wash apples thoroughly to prepare for cooking process.
- Peel (optional) and core apples (you may use the peels and cores to make apple scrap jelly or use them for compost).
- Chop apples to desired consistency and add to slow cooker.
- Add lemon juice, apple juice, and cinnamon to slow cooker.
- If cooking overnight place slow cooker on warm, otherwise place slow cooker on low and stir occasionally.
- When apples are fully cooked through blend in small batches to desired consistency.
- Cool rapidly or store in refrigerator overnight.
- Place applesauce in freezer bags and lay flat in the freezer until frozen through. You may also freeze in rigid plastic containers.
- Store for up to six months in deep freeze.