When I was a freshman in high school, I signed up for a class about cooking. Although, at the tender age of 14, I was already jaded beyond belief, I was secretly really excited about getting credit to cook. I had always loved cooking and even wanted to be a chef for a while. You know who else gets excited about getting high school credit to cook? Kids who are in gangs. Or, at least, suburban kids who want people to think they’re in gangs.
The first thing we made in class was applesauce. As I looked around the room and saw all these tough gang banger types donning aprons and stirring applesauce on the stove, I realized, “I never have to be afraid of these people again. Because I have just witnessed them making applesauce.” And, although in other circumstances, I’m quite certain these classmates would have loved nothing more than to terrorize the sullen girl in the Smiths t-shirt, I think they knew this too. So I spent the semester happily making muffins, applesauce, and mashed potatoes while listening to stories about drug deals, beating people up, and brass knuckles.
Prior to this cooking class, I had never made my own applesauce. In fact, it was the first time I even ate homemade applesauce. Or even knew such a thing existed. When I was a kid, I always ate applesauce when my mom put it in my lunch, but I wasn’t really a fan until I discovered how delicious it was when it was made fresh. The texture isn’t thin and watery and you can flavor it as much or as little as you like. And did I mention that it’s easy? Because it is!
While applesauce is easy on the stovetop, it’s even easier in a slow cooker. And in a slow cooker, you get the bonus of having a kitchen that smells like apple pie for several hours. Having never tried my hand at slow cooker applesauce, I adapted this recipe from Skinnytaste, substituting half the apples with pears and adding the flavors of chai instead of lemon rind. This applesauce (well, pear applesauce… pearplesauce?) is delicious on its own, but it’s even better added to a bowl of oatmeal or spooned over waffles for breakfast.
Pear Applesauce flavored with chai spices and slow-cooked in a crockpot. Adapted from Skinnytaste's Crock Pot Applesauce.
- 4 medium apples, peeled, cored, and cut into large chunks (I use Fuji and Pink Lady)
- 4 medium pears, peeled, cored, and cut into large chunks
- 1 tsp. lemon juice
- 5 tsp. brown sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
- 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
- Combine all ingredients in slow cooker. Heat on low for 6 hours.
- Remove cinnamon stick from slow cooker. For a chunkier sauce, use a slotted spoon to remove half of the apple and pear chunks. Use an immersion blender to puree the remaining fruit and then stir in reserved fruit chunks (alternately, you can cool the mixture and puree in a blender or food processor). For a thinner sauce, do not remove any fruit before pureeing.