Thursday, September 6, 2012

Frugal Kitchen: Crock pot applesauce

Sometime ago I remember reading a blurb by another frugal one, stating that she would not make her own applesauce when an inexpensive and quality alternative is easily purchased at the grocery store.  And on the broad idea, I agree, why remake the wheel.  But when it comes to applesauce, I can't pass up the chance to make a few jars for the freezer.  Especially given how much we read about the importance of eating local foods.  Ahhhhhh, the smell of fall arrives in my frugal kitchen!

Over the weekend I purchased three bags of local apples (Door County, Wisconsin).  Patient little things, they settled on my counter and waited for life to present the right time to be transformed into sauce.  What kind of apples?  Well, they are small, a yellow green and have a soft skin.  And that is all I remember from my early morning run to the farmers' market.  I'm certain the vendor told me the name, but the coffee had not yet kicked in and my 2 year old was along for the ride.  I got that they were 1) apples, 2) would make a good sauce, and 3) cook with the peels on!  The third one had me, one less step in the kitchen.

Yesterday, after finishing a morning of legal work, I returned home to my children and was faced with the question "how to spend the afternoon?"  With temperatures above 90 at 3pm meant outside play was not ideal.  So, I took a deep breath and said, let's make sauce.  My 4 year old was in charge of coring the apples.  Well, not really.  He stood to my right and stabbed them with a fork.  I did the actual coring and sliced them in half.  My 2 year old was in charge of throwing the core into the compost bucket, and helping me count 1,, 2, 3 core!  It took about 20 minutes.  I rinsed the apples and tossed them in the crock pot.

Crock pot instructions:

  • core apple, slice in half, wash
  • add to crock pot
  • add about 1/2 cup of water
  • dice three dried apricots to had a unique flavor
  • cook on high for 3 hours and low for another 1 hour
  • use a potato masher and the end.
  • let cool for 1 hour
  • scope into food processor, blend for 10 seconds
  • freeze

Other recipes say to add cinnamon, however I skipped it because my kids like to add the spice themselves when it is eating time.  If I added it now, they'd basically have some sauce with a bowl of cinnamon.  $12 in apple purchases will yield 6 jars of sauce (note, I am reusing jars from grocery store applesauce) and a few fun hours in the kitchen with my kids.  

If this post inspires you to give homemade applesauce a try, I want to mention that when you buy apples (or any item) in bulk you will get a better price.  The vendor told me "the bags are $5 each or I can do three for $12, bringing the price down.  Usually it is a great buy, just make sure you have enough time to freeze/cook the items before they go bad.  As I noted, apples are patient fruits!

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