Tuesday, October 25, 2011

No Sugar Added Applesauce (with Crock Pot Option)

Cheap Eat Challenge, Part 2: Watch as our family of 6 eats on less than $10/day.

Yes, and double yes.

Until now, my applesauces had demanded a bit of sugar. Sometimes more than a bit. And until now they'd demanded a bit of my attention.

No more friends, no more. An easy recipe just got easier. And a healthy recipe just got healthier.

Sugar-Free Applesauce (with Crock Pot Option)
Makes 2-3 C or about 20 oz.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cost: $1.05 (You'll note that this is not as cheap as you'll get generic applesauce from the store. It does taste better and it is a great--really great--way to save apples that are bland or bruised and might otherwise be thrown out, but to compete with store (Walmart brand, 46 oz for $1.69) applesauce, you'll have to get your apples for .50/lb. This may be possible at some pick your own farms or at a really cheap sale, but I haven't seen any in Evansville that cheap.
(apples: 1.00--3 lb for $2 from Aldi, apple juice: .05)

Note: I made a small batch because I wasn't sure how well it would work. Feel free to double, triple or beyond.

Another note, somewhat sassier: Do you feel like you're cheating by adding the apple juice? Don't. I'm guessing that this is similar to how applesauce manufacturers manage to get their All Natural varieties sweet enough while still labeling the ingredients as merely apples, water, and ascorbic acid.

1 1/2-2 lb apples (I used golden delicious from Aldi), peeled and cut into chunks
a few grates lemon peel (approximately 1/4-1/2 tsp)
a generous sprinkle cinnamon (approximately 1/4 tsp)
1/4 C apple juice (You can use any apple juice, but I used 1 Tbsp frozen apple juice concentrate with 3 Tbsp water. I like this method because if you have really awful apples that will need a little extra sweetness, you can use 2 or 3 Tbsp apple juice concentrate with just 1-2 Tbsp water to get the applesauce decently sweet. And then you can throw the rest of the concentrate back in the freezer and use it in smoothies as needed.)

Throw your apple chunks in the crock pot. Grate some lemon rind over top. Sprinkle some cinnamon over top (or throw in a cinnamon stick if you're feeling fancy). Add apple juice (it won't seem like enough liquid, but it is). Cover crock. Set crock pot to low. Cook for 2 hours or until you feel like checking on it. (You'll likely have to cook longer if you've doubled, tripled, etc. this recipe.) Mash the apples with a potato masher. I find that a masher like this gives a smoother mash: OXO Good Grips Smooth Potato Masher.

Remove from crock pot and put in a sealed container. Eat when cooled.

If you don't have or wish to break out your crock pot, you can prepare this on the stove by throwing all ingredients into a pot, covering it with a lid, and bringing it to a simmer, then cooking on medium low for 15-20 minutes. Stir it occasionally. Mash it when it's all mashable.

If you want directions for canning your fresh applesauce, have a look here.


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