This weekend, I went to the local fruit farm and did some "u-pick". This experience is fantastic. You get to be out in nature, enjoy fresh air, see the beauty of the orchard, and pick the apples that look like the best. My favorite part is getting to sample the apples you are picking :-)
I always find that all the apples "just a little further that way" are the best. Once you get close to those the next bunch just a bit further is even more appealing. And, the apples at the very top beyond reach are priceless. Although, I wouldn't know because I can't reach them!
After coming home with my newly picked bounty of fresh apples, the first thing to do naturally is wash them. When you pick them from the orchard yourself you will likely be able to see any sprayed on chemicals used to keep bugs from ruining the fruit. It is easily washed off with some water (I use a tiny bit of soap too). Then, other than eating them raw, I love to make apple sauce with my apples.
So, here it is: the best way to make it in the world (according to me).
Peel and core your apples. This will be the most time consuming part. But, trust me, you want them peeled. Imagine red mashed potatoes with the skin on, they are good but you wouldn't do that same style with russet potatoes. The skins of apples don't cook well in a slow cooker in my opinion.
I take my applesauce making one step further, I also like to throw my apples in the food processor just to help get their size down a little bit. If you have pieces that are too big you are going to end up with more of a cobbler than applesauce.
Once you have your apples in fine pieces it is time to put everything together in the crock pot.
My recipe changes based on the size of the apples and how many I want to take the time to peel.
Today's Applesauce (yields close to 8 cups):
6 lbs of gala apples (cored and peeled, then food processed finely)
3/4 cup of water
2 tbs cinnamon
1 tbs nutmeg
1 whole clove of cardamom (remove after cooking with the applesauce)
1 1/2 tbs vanilla
1 tbs almond extract
I cooked on low for around 5 hours stirring every hour to help mix ingredients and break the pieces down smaller. Tastes great warm over vanilla ice cream too!