Homemade Applesauce in the Slow Cooker

The other day my parents shared a bunch of “seconds” with us from a trip to a local apple orchard.

homemade applesauce, how to make applesauce, homemade applesauce in the slow cooker

If you’re wondering what “seconds” are, they’re the fruits and veggies that are too bruised, oddly shaped, or bug-holed to be sold in the “regular” market. They’re the ugly fruits.

homemade applesauce, how to make applesauce, homemade applesauce in the slow cooker

Personally, I love these imperfect fruits because it’s clear to me that pesticides and other unhealthy additives weren’t used. Yay! And, produce doesn’t have to look perfect to taste perfect. True story.

This particular bagful contained nearly 20 apples, and since I didn’t have any other all-day plans for my slow cooker, I thought:

Why not make homemade applesauce in the slow cooker?

This involved lots of peeling and dicing.

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I used all 18 apples that came in the bag. (That’s a lot of peeling.)

homemade applesauce, how to make applesauce, homemade applesauce in the slow cooker

Once ALL the apples were peeled and diced, into the slow cooker they went with lemon juice + zest, cinnamon, brown sugar, cardamom and a little apple cider! And then they cooked, low and slow.

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Seven hours later, I was left with apples that were fall-apart-tender and completely transformed into a dark, rich color. The scent in the house was UNbelievable.

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I scooped them out into a large bowl with a slotted spoon because there was a little more juice in there than I wanted in the applesauce. Then I used a simple handheld metal potato masher to make the applesauce, but honestly, I could’ve just used a fork (that’s how amazingly tender those apples were).

how to make applesauce, homemade applesauce, homemade applesauce in the slow cooker

My husband had to try the applesauce before it had even cooled. His reaction?

HOT damn! That’s the best applesauce I’ve ever had.

Well, then. Thankyouverymuch.

Homemade Applesauce in the Slow Cooker
 
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You'll never go back to jarred applesauce after trying this easy slow cooker recipe!
Author:
Ingredients
  • 18-20 medium apples (any variety)
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • ½ cup apple cider
Instructions
  1. Peel and then slice the apples into large chucks (6-8 slices each). Toss the apple slices into a slow cooker.
  2. Add the lemon zest + juice, cinnamon, brown sugar, cardamom and cider, and then toss everything together to coat the apples completely. Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for 7 hours.
  3. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked apples to a large bowl, and then use a fork or potato masher to turn the apples into applesauce! Cool completely before serving. Makes about 4 cups.

Whole Chicken in the Slow Cooker

how to cook whole chicken in the slow cooker, whole chicken in the slow cooker, roast chicken

I have to admit, while I love my slow cooker, I’ve been apprehensive about cooking a whole chicken in it. I really adore roast chicken, especially when the skin gets nice and crispy. “Slow cooker” to me doesn’t scream beautiful, crispy skin. Rather, I picture rubbery, inedible skin. I mean really, is there anything more unappetizing than rubbery chicken skin? Blech.

So, with hesitation, I decided to give the 100 Days of Real Food recipe for Best Whole Chicken in a Crock Pot a whirl.

I adjusted the seasonings slightly based on what I already had in my pantry: dried parsley, garlic salt, paprika, black pepper, and cayenne pepper.

whole chicken in the slow cooker

And I took Lisa’s advice of rubbing the seasoning under the skin in addition to coating the outside, because if the gummy skin’s being peeled off afterwards, I was gonna want the meat itself to be seasoned. Right? Right.

whole chicken in the slow cooker

And then, just like she writes, I placed it atop one chunky cut onion, set the cook time to 5 hours on high, and forgot about all day Saturday.

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And you know what? The skin wasn’t gummy at ALL. The fat rendered out (note all the lovely juices in the bottom), and the skin turned paper thin. Not crispy, but it was totally edible.

The meat literally fell off the bone. You can even see in the photo how relaxed it looks. I’m surprised it didn’t give in all together without my help!

whole chicken in the slow cooker

Make no mistake. This is not a substitution for regular oven roasted chicken. The meat texture is different, almost mushy. “Mushy” isn’t the best adjective when describing food, I get that, but I’m not sure how else to describe it. Not exactly like pulled chicken, but closer to that, I suppose, than a roast chicken texture. Point is, it’s good.

I’m going to try this again with the slow cooker on low, and instead for 8-10 hours. We’ll see what that does to the texture!

PS: Make sure to save the bones, juices and cooked onions in the slow cooker to make overnight stock!

Whole Chicken in the Slow Cooker
 
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Closely adapted from the recipe for "The Best Whole Chicken in the Crock Pot" recipe at 100daysofrealfood.com
Author:
Serves: 2-4
Ingredients
  • 1 3.5-pound whole organic chicken
  • 1 tablespoon garlic salt
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons dried parsley
  • 1 large onion, cut into large chunks
Instructions
  1. Place the onion in the bottom of the slow cooker.
  2. Mix the garlic salt, paprika, black pepper, cayenne pepper and parsley together. Rub the spice mixture under the breast skin and all over the outside of the chicken (underneath too!). Place the seasoned chicken on top of the onions, breast-side up.
  3. Cover the slow cooker and cook on high for 5 hours, or until the skin has turned golden and the meat falls off the bones.
  4. Save the carcass, juices and cooked onions to make overnight chicken stock in the same slow cooker!

Slow Cooker Beef and Potatoes

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Fall is here, which means my slow cooker will be used a lot, especially after I found this great recipe for using it to make chicken stock last weekend. I’ll never buy chicken stock again – especially when this calls for cooking it overnight! You can hardly get any easier than that. The recipe ended up yielding 12 cups of stock, so I kept 2 cups for the fridge and froze the other 10 cups. (Yes, TEN cups.) And it tastes wonderful!

So, back to the slow cooker. One of my favorite uses is with beef roasts, any cut – it doesn’t matter. I watch the sales, buy beef roasts when they’re cheaper, and then freeze them most of the time. I’ve used frozen roasts in my slow cooker (yes, un-thawed) before, but my most recent roast started out fresh.

Unfortunately my local supermarket doesn’t offer grass-fed organic beef, but my goal is to eventually visit a local farm where you can buy a quarter cow that IS grass-fed and organic. Baby steps; we’ll get there.

slow cooker beef and potatoes

Also, I love that most slow cooker recipes are flexible. The day I made this one I didn’t have a ton of produce on hand, so I used red skin potatoes, rough chopped onions and some smashed garlic – all organic. Carrots, celery and fresh herbs would have been a nice addition though!

The beans in the photos are wax beans from my neighbors’ CSA pick-up that they graciously shared, and I steamed them separately at dinnertime.

What’s your favorite meal to cook in the slow cooker?

slow cooker beef and potatoes

Slow Cooker Beef and Potatoes
 
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Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 3-pound beef rump roast
  • 4 red skin potatoes, quartered
  • 2 yellow onions, rough chopped
  • 2 fresh garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 tablespoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 cup water or beef stock
Instructions
  1. Place the potatoes, onions and garlic in the bottom of a slow cooker.
  2. Coat the outside of the roast with garlic salt, black pepper, chili powder and parsley. Set it on top of the potatoes and onions, fat side up.
  3. Pour the water into the bottom of the slow cooker.
  4. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours.

Easy Slow Cooker Pot Roast

This may be the easiest slow cooker pot roast recipe in the world. I mean, what recipes start with a FROZEN ROAST and end with a full meal, all the trimmings and au jus to go with it?

This one.

 

Easy Slow Cooker Pot Roast

 

{Print this recipe}

Prep: 10 minutes | Cook: 8 hours | Serves: 4

Ingredients
1 3-pound rump roast, frozen
4 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
2 medium onions, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 can beef broth

Directions
Place the potatoes, onions and carrots in the bottom of a slow cooker. Set the frozen roast on top. Pour the beef broth over top of the roast. Sprinkle the garlic salt, pepper and parsley over the roast and the veggies.

Cover and set to cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.

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