It truly is starting to look a bit like fall at our house. It's a cool, gray 60 degrees and in the backyard, our walnut tree is starting to throw down a sprinkling of yellow leaves. I've even seen a few leaves blowing sideways past my kitchen window today, which is one of my favorite things. It's also sounding a bit like fall here, too. My current playlist is a mixture of Harry Potter, Enya, Anne of Green Gables, and Lord of the Rings. In case you didn't know this about me: I'm a collector of movie soundtracks. What do you listen to when fall rolls around?
Oh, and last but not least, it's starting to smell like fall. Winter squashes roasting, homemade chicken broth bubbling, shortbread bars baking, and homemade applesauce simmering. A sweet friend of mine who lives on a farm (lucky, lucky, girl!) generously loaded her super cute wire basket with apples from their trees and brought them over to my house. Thank you, Katie! I don't know how many apples we unloaded, but let's call it a bushel. I just want to use the word bushel more often. Anyway, with apples a-plenty, I have plans: apple crisp, applesauce, apple baked oatmeal, and hopefully apple cider, too!
First up was applesauce. And it was such a cinch! Of course, borrowing my mother-in-law's apple peeler-corer-slicer made all the difference in the world. (Thanks, Judy!) Hadley was able to stand on a chair and help me churn the handle of the peeler and then dumped each finished apple into the crockpot. It was the highlight of her weekend. I have made homemade applesauce one other time a few years ago and remember not being very impressed, but I'm completely happy with this batch. I love how it turned out with this tiny amount of cinnamon. It's just a hint of spice, enough to really bring out the sweetness of the apples.
Easy Homemade Crockpot Applesauce
10-12 large apples*
juice of 1 lemon
1 1/2 cups water
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
Peel and core apples. Cut into 1-inch chunks and place in a crockpot. Or, use an apple peeler-corer-slicer and just toss them in. In a small bowl, juice 1 lemon and then whisk in water and maple syrup. Sprinkle cinnamon over apple chunks and pour lemon-water mixture over all. Cover crockpot and cook on low for about 4 hours, or until apples are very soft and easily fall apart when stirred. Mash apples to desired consistency using a potato masher, or an immersion blender. I was able to get mine as smooth as I wanted it just by stirring with a wooden spoon. If applesauce is too thick, add a few tablespoons of filtered water and stir well. Let cool, place in glass jars and store in the fridge.
NOTE: Applesauce will become much, much sweeter once it has cooled. Resist the urge to add more sweetener until you've chilled the applesauce overnight. Taste it cold, and then decide if it needs more maple syrup. My apples were very tart and I thought I would need a lot more sweetener, but it's actually just perfect! I loved how it turned out with this tiny amount of cinnamon. It's just a hint of spice, enough to really bring out the sweetness of the apples.
*Any kind of tart and crisp apple works well- but free apples from your friend's farm are the best!
What kind of apple-ing do you hope to do this fall? I can't wait to head over to our town's orchard and get the Regent apples. They aren't ready until the end of the season and they're my favorite for snacking! Isn't it amazing how every time you bite into an apple fresh from the tree, it's just about the greatest thing you've ever tasted? All this apple talk reminds me of one of the Johnny Appleseed Disney cartoon from the 1940's- have you seen it? If you and your kids need something to watch for about 8 minutes, we love this one.