Wednesday, May 4, 2011

No Sugar Added Crock Pot Applesauce & Apple Butter

I am never buying another bag of apples again. At least, not in Philadelphia.

A 3-lb bag of Macintosh apples that I bought last week looked great in the store: red, shiny, no bruises, skin intact. Then I got them home, and every point of contact between them boasted a very large, unattractive bruise. But there's a silver lining to all of this. In fact, just how spotted bananas make the best banana bread, I think spotted apples might make the best applesauce.

So about a month ago, over my school break, I decided to do an experiment involving home-made apple butter. I kind of adore apple butter, but most brands are full of sugar, and most homemade recipes are no different. For the sugar-free version, I basically just made a spiced applesauce in the crock pot, and reduced it on the stove.

Apple Butter Recipe
3 pounds Macintosh apples, skinned and chopped
1/2 cup unsweetened 100% apple juice or unsweetened cider
Two-inch piece of whole cinnamon stick - this stuff is powerful
The zest of one ripe tangerine
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp allspice
1. Cook on "low" in crock pot - this one is a 5 quart size - for 7-9 hours.
Stir several times throughout. At the end of the 7-9 hours, remove the cinnamon stick.

2. To reduce, heat in a saucepan, stirring constantly. Adjust heat to the highest possible setting before spattering occurs. (Nobody needs that mess). This takes about 20 minutes, but may be adjusted according to how thick you want it. If you want it perfectly smooth, you can use an immersion blender, or process in a food processor, but I did not do this and it still came out quite smooth from all the stirring.

This made just the right amount to fill a 16 oz jar. Kept refrigerated, it'll keep for a couple of weeks. Spread it on your favorite toast and you will not be disappointed.

Today, I decided to give this another try, stopping at the "applesauce" point. I attribute this decision to the love that Brady and I share for childish snacks, like peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, tuna melts, and apparently, applesauce.

I'm not too sure why I used the 5 qt crock pot for the original apple butter experiment. This time I was able to fit a 3-lb-bag's worth of apples (peeled, and chopped into pieces that vary wildly in size and shape) into the 2-qt machine, to which I added 1/4 tsp of nutmeg, a 1-inch piece of cinnamon stick, a pinch of ground cloves, and about 1/3 cup of water.

My apples cooked for about 3 hours on high before turning mushy, but you could also cook them on low for 5-7 hours. This made about one large-cereal-bowl's worth of tasty applesauce. Be sure to pull out the bits of cinnamon stick while you're spooning it out of the crock pot. You can skip the spices, or experiment with new ones.

Yum! Snack time!
Of course, besides snacking, you can use applesauce for baking deliciously moist muffins and cooking with other things, especially pork.

Quote of the Day: Life is not orderly. No matter how we try to make life so, right in the middle of it we die, lose a leg, fall in love, drop a jar of applesauce. ~ Natalie Goldberg 

EDIT: I've revised the measurement of the spices to be more specific, but there is lots of wiggle room there. Taste and adjust accordingly!


  1. wOW this looks awesome. I am hosting a Fall Friday Recipe Link up party....I would love for you to come over and share this....

    New follower

  2. I LOVE homemade applesauce. So does my daughter, who has Type 1 Diabetes. We're going to have to try this here.

  3. I hope you both enjoy this. You are also my first comments from people that I don't know "in real life". Thanks for reading GK!