Like applesauce, but with pears, too!
I was chatting with my friend, Shiny, on his Twitch channel while making this and he asked for the recipe. So, Shiny, this one is for you. I measured everything out best I could as I went, just as you asked ... even though I never measure anything for this particular dish.
How long it will take:About 8 1/2 hours from start to finish, but you'll be able to ignore it for most of that time. Only about 30 minutes of actual work at the beginning and then just the occasional stir.
More time will be needed at the end if you want to can it, but that is completely optional. It is perfectly acceptable to just eat it all, though I don't recommend trying it in one sitting.
What you will need:
- crock pot (I have several. I used my six-quart, self-stirring one for this.)
- 2 lbs pears
- 3 lbs tart apples (I used Granny Smiths)
- 3 lbs sweet apples (I used Gala)
- 1/4 cup apple cider (optional, apple juice also works and is also optional)
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ginger
- 1/4 tsp allspice
If you like your applesauce sweeter, go with more sweet apples. If you like it very tart, go with more tart ones. Keep in mind, there is no sugar to counter the tartness and the pears are a bit tart as well. This ratio gave a nice, moderately tart flavor with gentle pear undertones. If you don't like pears, just leave them out. Or replace them with more apples, sweet and/or tart, to give the same volume. (Sorry, Shiny, but that's about as exact as I can get with this one. Use the amounts listed and you won't be disappointed, I promise.)
If you absolutely MUST add sugar (ugh!), go with brown. Seriously, though, you don't need it.
What you will do:Peel the pears and apples and cut them into largish chunks. Smaller chunks work, too, and will cook faster. I like large chunks because it's a LOT of peeling and cutting and it goes faster if I leave the chunks bigger.
I've tried leaving the peels on, but if they are tough they can muck with the texture. Had one batch that the peels never quite dissolved, leaving these little "woody" bits throughout the sauce. Tasted fine, but the bits of peel were kind of nasty. You are welcome to skip peeling if you are feeling brave or lazy or simply like the texture of wood in your applesauce. Me? I take the time to peel now.
Toss all the chunks into the crock pot. I do this as I cut them, so I don't have to dirty up a bowl. If you like to wash bowls, by all means, use one. Or two or three. Knock yourself out.
NOTE: This amount of fruit filled my six quart crock pot to the top. If you are using a smaller crock, adjust accordingly. Or snack on the extra pieces while the rest cooks. Either works.
Pour the cider in with the pears and apples. I add this because it takes awhile for the fruit to "juice up." You can safely omit it, if you want.
Sprinkle with spices. Stir to mix them in, if you like. Or not. The fruit doesn't care. I stirred mine, after I took the picture though.
Cover and cook on low until everything is soft and mushy, stirring occasionally. (Or use a fancy-shmancy self-stirring crock pot, like I did, and it will stir itself.) The fruit should break down and fall apart until it gets to that familiar, applesaucy consistency. The longer you cook it, the darker it gets and the more intense the flavor becomes. If you cook it long enough, it becomes apple-pear butter, but we aren't going to take it that far today.
After about five hours of cooking, the apples had pretty much disintegrated, but some of the pears were still intact. So I grabbed my trusty pink potato-masher and mashed away.
There, that's better!
It's still not as thick as I'd like it though, so I turned the lid sideways to allow some of the moisture to escape. (I think the stirring mechanism will still work like this, but if the lid goes skittering across the kitchen, we'll know I was wrong. Pretty sure the manufacturer advises against this!)
I'll give it another hour or three to thicken up.
After 8 hours, you can see that it's reduced by about half (from the original, full crock). It's a lot thicker now and the sugars have had a chance to caramelize, giving it a rich, brown color. It's hit the point where every bite is an explosion of apples, pears and spices. That means it's ready.
Serve warm, all by itself -- or topped with whipped cream -- or over vanilla ice cream. All are good, trust me.
If you make a lot, like I did, the extra can be canned for later use. (For more info on canning, check out Ball's Fresh Preserving site.) You should also be able freeze it, I would think, though I've never tried. Or just stick it in the refrigerator and eat it all over the next few days. There is no sugar in it, so no guilt. Unless, of course, you put it over ice cream. In which case, you've earned it, right? So, still no guilt.