In The Botany of Desire, Michael Pollan identifies the apple as one of the four most important plants domesticated by humans. Apples serve us by satisfying our desire for sweetness. But we also serve them. We have contributed to their genetic diversity through artificial selection and extended their habitat beyond their native Central Asia. It’s a symbiotic relationship.
I’ve found that few people know how easy it is to make applesauce. And a slow cooker makes it even easier. Once you taste the difference between homemade and jarred, you’ll never look back.
4 lbs apples*
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 c water
1 Tbsp-1/4 c brown sugar
Peel, core, and cut the apples into 1-inch chunks. Combine the apples, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, water, and salt in the crock of a slow cooker and cook on low for 3-4 hours. Check in once or twice and add more water if the apples are sticking to the sides of the crock. Near the end of the cooking time, add brown sugar according to taste. Then, gently mash with a fork.
You can definitely do this on the stovetop. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to the lowest setting. Gently simmer with the pot partially covered. You’ll need to keep a closer eye on it and add more water, possibly up to a cup. The applesauce will be done cooking after about 30 minutes.
*A few notes on the ingredients…
The best apples for cooking are varieties that are tart and firm. I used a combination of Winesap, Pippin, and Pink Lady. Mixing varieties usually leads to a more complex product that is at once sweet, sour, and tart.