September 26, 2018

Tasteful

By Jan Kenney

The apples are coming!

I am fortunate to have a couple of very, very old apple trees in my backyard. The apples they produce are quite small — not really eating apples. But the applesauce is amazing. This year, the branches are bowed way over with an abundance of fruit. The challenge will be, of course, to maximize this bounty. So, out comes the crockpot, the peeler and a good sharp knife to transform those crisp and crunchy autumn snacks into applesauce and apple butter to savor throughout the winter.

Crockpot Applesauce

20-30 small ripe apples (enough to fill crockpot) ½ cup water Wash apples and remove seeds and core. Place into slow cooker. Add ½ cup water. Cook on low for 4-5 hours, stirring occasionally. Mash with a potato masher, then strain through cone and pestle strainer or put through a food mill to puree and remove the apple skin. If you don’t have a strainer or food mill, peel the apples before cooking. You can also use an immersion blender, or regular blender, if you prefer it to be very smooth. You probably will want to add some sweetener to your applesauce before eating.

The kind of apple you use will determine how much you need. Sugar, brown sugar, honey, maple syrup and molasses can all be used, as well as sugar substitutes. I like to add a dash of salt and some cinnamon (about a ¼ teaspoon per cup) as well. Applesauce freezes beautifully and can also be canned. Did you know that you can use applesauce in place of eggs when baking?

Substitute ¼ cup of unsweetened applesauce in place of one egg in most recipes.

Crockpot Apple Butter

Apple butter is basically an applesauce that is reduced to a thicker consistency with a more robust taste. The process is identical except after 4 ½ hours of cooking add 1 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon cinnamon, ½ teaspoon nutmeg, ½ teaspoon allspice and ½ teaspoon ground cloves. Cook another 4 ½ hours without the lid on. It should turn a deep reddish brown. Mash or blend. Smear on bread or cheddar cheese. Use it to baste chicken or pork. Eat it on cottage cheese. Use as a pretzel dip, on ice cream or waffles…

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