I’m convinced that toddler’s are bottomless pits.
When the kiddo finds something that she likes to eat, she can just eat and eat and eat and… Well, you get the idea. One day last week, she ate 5 clementines with breakfast. Yes, five. She also had a pancake. She’s been known to devour pretzels like she hasn’t eaten in days.
Her favorite, though, happens to be those squeeze packets of flavored applesauce. It started as baby food. We didn’t do a lot of pureed baby food, but there was a time when she wasn’t such a voracious eater. Squeeze packets of baby food (i.e. flavored applesauce) got us through. The thing is, she never dropped the habit.
Granted, it could be worse. Thankfully, she’s not obsessed with junk food. She’ll turn down a bag of cookies for a packet of applesauce.
But, those packets get expensive. Sure, when she was a baby and only ate one packet for a meal, it wasn’t too bad. Now that she will eat 3 or 4 in one sitting, something needs to change.
Thankfully, I figured out that they now market these applesauce packets to older kids, too. Why does this matter? Well, it turns out the older kid versions are considerably cheaper. It seems that if you put “baby” on a package, that increases the price by at least 50%. Even so, the “big kid” organic applesauce packets are getting out of hand.
My solution? I hit up the farmer’s market last week for some apples. After all, I’m perfectly capable of making applesauce. I found a giant bag of apples (I forget the variety already, but they are a tart-sweet apple that happens to be green. I’m awful, I know.) that was labeled “seconds.” I think I got close to 30 pounds of apples (low-spray, eco apples from a local farm) for $10. Jackpot!
I’ve made applesauce plenty of times in the past. Cook the apples on the stove in some water. Then, run them through the food mill and wind up with a slightly runny applesauce that is nothing to write home about.
Fortunately, I’ve found a new method for making applesauce. It happens to be considerably easier and it yields a nice thick applesauce that has a bright sweet flavor. And, there’s no added sugar.
The secret? Roast the apples. Roasting the apples brings out the flavor and caramelizes them just a bit. And, instead of water, I use apple cider. It keeps the sauce from getting watered down and helps to sweeten things up without adding any sugar.
So, now that I’ve got my freezer full of applesauce, I need to convince the kiddo that applesauce tastes just as good when it’s not in one of those squeeze packets. That’s much harder than turning 30 pounds of apples into sauce. Send help.
This recipe isn’t really even a recipe. It’s more of a method. You can adjust the quantity, add more or less cider (for sweetness, without the sugar!), or add seasonings at the end. It couldn’t be simpler!
- 5 pounds apples
- ½ cup apple cider
Preheat the oven to 375F.
Core the apples and cut them into large chunks. (I don’t bother to remove the skins… I give them a good wash first and buy apples that are no or low-spray.) Place them in a large baking dish.
Pour the cider down over the apples. Cover the dish with aluminum foil.
Roast the apples covered for 25 minutes. The apples will be soft. Give the apples a quick stir, then roast for an additional 30 – 35 minutes, until they are slightly caramelized and very soft.
Transfer the roasted apples to your blender. Puree your apples to the desired texture.
If you’re using a high-powered blender, like a Vitamix, you can still have a chunky applesauce. Simply use the lowest setting and pulse, pulse, pulse!