Mother Nature has taken her time, but the cold has finally settled in here in the Chicago area. Lucky for us the change in seasons has come slowly because the apple festivals and farmer’s markets have been a lot more fun. Shopping outside in the cold rain just makes everyone miserable.
We bought a huge box of “Seconds” (not the prettiest at the fair) at an apple festival in Ravenswood, one of the many neighborhoods in Chicago with friendly little city in a big city vibe. The box was a deal at $20. It was a mix of about 20 pounds of different varieties of apples that were bruised and really ripe.
We made the Best. Applesauce. Ever. Really simple and really really good. Sweet and Tart with the subtle flavor of the warming spices, Cinnamon and Star Anise. The hardest part of this recipe is the peeling. So put on a movie, or a podcast, or watch Sunday football all day, like we did. It helps if you have a peeler, mechanical or human 🙂
We set aside about 20 apples to use in a couple of soup recipes. The rest became our apple sauce. Here’s the recipe.
20lbs of Apples – Farmer’s Markets usually sell their apples in small or medium sized baskets or one large 10lb bag. This recipe calls for 2 large bags. You can get a bag of one variety or a mixed variety. I’ve always made this apple sauce with a mix of sweet and tart varieties and it comes out tasting great every time so I would recommend trying it first with a mix of varieties.
Two sticks of cinnamon and One Star Anise – Normally you would only need one star anise and two cinnamon sticks. However, this was a double batch for us. The box of apples was endless. Like two football games and an episode of Walking Dead endless.
2 cups of water and 1 Crock Pot (slow cooker)
STEP ONE – Peel, core and chop
STEP TWO: Add all the ingredients at once to your slow cooker. If you’re cooking a lot more apples than will fit in your cooker, no worries. After the first batch cooks for about an hour or so, the apples will reduce in the size and you can then add the rest of your apples.
Step Three – Once you’ve put in every last apple, first and second batch. Put the top on and let it cook for 3-4 hours on high or 6 hours on low. Sneak a peak. If they’ve become brown from the spices and mush from the cooking, they’re done. Turn off your cooker and let them cool over night.
Step Four – Your cooked apples are now ready for the food processor or a blender. If you don’t have either, a potato masher will do the trick too. Mash and/or process your apples to the consistency you like, smooth or chunky.
STEP FIVE – Put your fabulous APPLE SAUCE in containers. I put ours in jars so we could share some and to make it easier to store. It will last in your fridge for at least a month, but fair warning you’re going to like this so much it won’t stay in your fridge for long. Use it to cook with, in your smoothies, on pancakes or waffles, or to satisfy a craving for something sweet.
I love Cinnamon in anything. I especially love Star Anise in this recipe, and well who doesn’t love apples in one form or another. Put them, all together, and cook them over several hours and I guarantee that when you smell this it will bring a smile to your face. When you taste it you’ll your whole body will smile.