One of the many things that make fall my favorite time of the year: apple picking season!
There’s a huge apple orchard in the town I grew up in and, as a kid, I loved to visit every fall.
My family would come home with bagfuls of fresh apples we had picked ourselves, and my mom would set a big stock pot on the stove top to cook homemade applesauce, filling the house with the aromas of sweet, warm apples and cinnamon.
Today, I still visit that orchard and still stock up with bags of my own freshly picked apples.
Then I make homemade pumpkin applesauce using a slow cooker.
I like to make the applesauce special by adding rich, fall flavors like cinnamon, ginger, and maple.
And then I add a secret ingredient: pumpkin purée!
It helps make the sauce really rich and thick and is a perfect flavor complement to the apples.
(Side bonus: the pumpkin also adds tons of nutrition to the applesauce.)
If this is your first time cooking your own applesauce, I think you’ll agree: in terms of flavor, homemade is worlds beyond the packaged kind you can buy in the store!
It’s surprisingly easy to make too (only about 20 minutes of hands-on time).
Just peel and chop several apples, and the slow cooker does all of the work from there!
Here’s another thing I love about the season:
Taking Calvin on long walks on those really crisp, clear days that happen so often in the fall.
These photos were taken at Maudslay State Park, north of Boston.
The park is expansive and located right on the coast.
Meat-and-Potatoes-Guy, Calvin, and I must have walked for at least an hour, just admiring the brilliant New England fall colors.
All the better for working up an appetite for some homemade applesauce when we got home!
Here is the complete, printable recipe:
- Serving size: 8
- Calories: 72
- Fat: 0g
- Saturated fat: 0g
- Carbohydrates: 18.2g
- Sugar: 13.5g
- Sodium: 76mg
- Fiber: 2.1g
- Protein: .7g
- Cholesterol: 0mg
Fiber (from pumpkin puree and apples) - regulates and slows feelings of hunger, rids
the body of toxins
Manganese (from cinnamon and maple syrup) - an antioxidant that promotes a strong
immune system, builds strong and healthy bones, promotes high energy levels, and
Polyphenols (from cinnamon) - antioxidants that protect cells from damage and
help the body regulate blood sugar levels
Vitamin A (from pumpkin puree) - a powerful nutrient for clear, smooth, supple,
Vitamin C (from apples) - detoxes the body, protects against free radicals and
pollution, builds a strong and healthy immune system, promotes clear and smooth skin
Total Time: 3 hours, 20 minutes
Hands-On Time: 20 minutes
Cook: 3 hours
Total Time: 7 hours, 50 minutes
Hands-On Time: 20 minutes
Cook: 7 hours, 30 minutes
Yield: 8 servings
- 6-7 large Honeycrisp apples (or other sweet apple such as Cortland), peeled, cored, and diced
- ¾ cup pure pumpkin puree
- 2 tablespoons 100 percent pure maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ⅛ tsp ground ginger
- ⅛ tsp nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Place the peeled, diced apples in a slow cooker set to high heat. Cover, stirring occasionally. Cook for about 3 hours, or until apples are cooked down to a thick, sauce-like consistency.
- Reduce the heat to low. Add all of the remaining ingredients (pumpkin puree, maple syrup, vanilla extract, lemon juice, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt) and stir until well combined. Cover and cook about 20-25 minutes longer.
- Place the peeled, diced apples in a slow cooker set to low heat. Cover, stirring occasionally. Cook for about 7½ hours, or until apples are cooked down to a thick, sauce-like consistency.
- With the heat still set to low, add all of the remaining ingredients (pumpkin puree, maple syrup, vanilla extract, lemon juice, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt) and stir until well combined. Cover and cook about 20-25 minutes longer.
And for the step-by-step instructions…
…begin with all of these ingredients.
Grab several sweet apples (like honeycrisp or cortland apples).
I like using an apple with natural sweetness, so I don’t feel the need to add lots of sweetener later.
Then peel all of the skin off of the apples. If you don’t have an apple peeler (here’s the apple peeler I’d like to have in my kitchen, one of these days…), just use a good quality vegetable peeler instead.
Take it from someone who has learned the hard way: the time it takes to peel the apples is a worthwhile step.
Knowing most of the nutrition in apples lies within the skin, I decided to make a batch of applesauce using unpeeled apples.
Lesson learned: peeling is a critical step – – the skin remained tough and chewy even after several hours in the slow cooker.
Place each peeled apple upright on the cutting board and slice down around each side of the core, quartering the apple.
Throw away the cores…
…Then dice up the apples.
Next, there are two options in terms of how quickly you’d like to cook the applesauce.
If you’d like to cook the applesauce as quickly as possible, grab your slow cooker and set it to high heat.
Then toss in the apples and cover.
Stir every once in a while and, in about three hours, the apples will be cooked down to a thick, slightly chunky sauce.
If you’ll be away from the kitchen for several hours during the day, set the slow cooker to low heat.
Then toss in the apples and cover.
In about 7 1/2 hours, the apples will be cooked down to a thick, slightly chunky sauce.
The remaining steps are the same for both the time-saver and slow-cooked methods: set the slow cooker heat to low.
Then stir in some pure pumpkin puree, which thickens up the sauce and adds tons of healthy fiber and Vitamin A.
Also add some tasty fall flavorings: a bit of pure maple syrup, some vanilla extract, a bit of freshly squeezed lemon juice, plenty of ground cinnamon, a bit of ground ginger, a pinch of nutmeg, and some salt.
Stir it all up until everything is well combined.
Cover and simmer just a bit longer, until everything is heated through and melded together.
Serve the applesauce straight from the slow cooker while it’s still warm, as a yummy side dish with dinner.
Or transfer it to a covered, airtight container.
It holds up for several days when stored in the fridge, so I like to make a big batch on the weekends to last through a week’s worth of snacks.
The freshly cooked apples make this sauce slightly tart (complemented with the hint of lemon) and slightly sweet (complemented with the maple syrup).
And its ‘s richly flavored with all of the cinnamon and other spices (which fill the house with such a comforting, sweet aroma!).
I love that this pumpkin-filled version of homemade applesauce contains so many added nutrients and antioxidants too!