Today is March 21, 2020, and we are in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and self-quarantine has become challenging. I’ve vowed to use every bit of food we have in the house and let nothing go to waste. Hence, wrinkly apples became whole food plant-based apple butter in the slow cooker.
With peels. Do not judge. Times are weird. Plus extra vitamins and roughage in the apple skins!
Easy Peasy, Except for. . .
It’s stupid easy to make this delicious side, and the hands-on time required is only about 20 minutes. Even faster with the apple slicer dohickey I used.
If you opt not to peel the apples, make sure you wash them well before you start the process.
I must confess, I did not always wash my produce — especially anything with a peel. But post-Covid 19, I scrub every piece of produce that comes in the house. So even if you peel your apples before adding them to the slow-cooker, please wash them well.
At other times, I might tell you the best varieties of apples for this recipe. But when going to the grocery store involves risk, I say any variety of apples can be used. I used a mix of pink lady, golden delicious, cameos and granny smiths. Honestly, the golden delicious would not have been my choice — nearly tasteless compared to the other varieties. But wrinkly fruit is wrinkly fruit — it all goes in the pot.
After the apples overnight in the slow cooker for 12 hours or so, they are super soft. Throwing the whole lot (minus the cinnamon sticks) in the Vitamix gets it as smooth or as chunky as you like. Just make sure you let it cool for at least an hour before you move it from the slow cooker to the blender. It’s best to load in batches because the blender has a tendency to splatter hot liquids.
To Sweeten or Not to Sweeten
The best way to judge if you need additional sweetener is to taste your apples. If your apples make you pucker like a Granny smith apple is want to do, then use additional sweetener.
If you are using a mixed batch of apples, the best way to judge the amount of additional sweetener needed is to let them slow cook for at least 8 hours and give them a taste. You’ll want to wait that long because it takes some time to break down the apples and develop the natural sugars. I ended up using 1/4 cup of maple syrup in this batch and it was plenty sweet.
Serve this as a side — it pairs wonderfully with pancakes or any other dish, really. You may want to slather it on toast, or jar it up and take some to the neighbors.
Have a recipe that calls for applesauce or apple butter? Use this slightly spicy version instead. I’ve used it in gingerbread cake and it turned out beautifully!
Maybe the best way to enjoy this fat-free goodness is with a big bowl and a spoon. Delish!Print
This almost hands-off recipe cooks for a long time in the slow cooker and uses apples that are just at the edge of turning. Peel or no peel, and with the spices you enjoy, make this your own.
8–10 apples, cored and sliced (skin off or on)
2 cinnamon sticks
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
maple syrup to taste
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Wash your apples well and destem. Core the apples and cut into chunks or slices of equal size.
- Places apple chunks in the slow cooker, along with the cinnamon sticks and any other ground spices of your choosing. I used nutmeg and ground cloves. Alternatively, I’ve used cardamom and allspice. Or feel free to add them all in smallish quantities to taste.
- Set the slow cooker to high and let the apples cook overnight — at least 12 hours and possibly longer if you keep the skin on.
- When the house smells like apple pie, turn the slow cooker off, remove the cinnamon sticks, taste, and add maple syrup to taste. Add the pure vanilla extract at this point as well.
- Let the apples cool in the slow cooker until they are just warm to the touch..
- Puree the apples in small batches in a blender or Vitamix. Go slowly, especially if the apples are still warm.
- Let the pureed apples cool completely. Store in covered jars in the refrigerator. These apples last at least a week.
- Serve immediately or store in glass jars in the refrigerator.
- Method: slow cooker
Keywords: apples, slow cooker