This slow-cooker sauce is the ultimate answer to the overabundance of summer fruit. Whether you went crazy at the U-Pick or just got too excited at the farmers market or grocery store, turning your excess into a warm, sweet sauce is an easy solution — especially when all that's required of you is dumping the fruit into the slow cooker with a little water and sugar and letting the appliance do its thing.
Pick a Fruit, Any Fruit
Cooking fruit low and slow in the slow cooker is a little like magic. It gently pulls out every single bit of sweet, juicy flavor, making for a sauce that's more delicious than you can imagine. The best part about this recipe is that you can use virtually any fruit. While you work your way through summer, go for whatever you might have bought too much of.
Some Great Fruits to Try
- Berries: Wash and hull strawberries and halve them, if large. Blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries can simply be washed and tossed right in. If your fruit is quite ripe, dial the sugar back a bit in the recipe, as ripe fruit is naturally sweeter.
- Stone fruit: Wash and pit cherries. Peaches, plums, nectarines, and apricots can be washed, halved, pitted, and sliced into thin wedges. If you like a little texture, leave the skins on; otherwise, peel them. Like berries, if your fruit is soft and very ripe, you can reduce the sugar a little.
- Frozen fruit: This sauce can really be made year-round if you go for frozen fruit instead of fresh. Maybe even stash away some of this summer's bounty to make this on a dreary day in November.
- Rhubarb: Although not technically a fruit, rhubarb is lovely and always invited to the fruit party. Wash and chop it into about 1/2-inch pieces. Since rhubarb is naturally quite tart, you'll want to add an additional spoonful or two of sugar to the slow cooker.
Also, no one said you only have to pick one fruit to use — don't hesitate to combine a few of your favorites.
A Few Fruit Sauce Combinations
- Cherries + rhubarb
- Raspberries + peaches + apricots
- Blackberries + plums
- Strawberries + blueberries + raspberries
The Universal Appeal of a Vanilla Bean
You really don't need any fancy additions to make a killer sauce, but one extra ingredient — a vanilla bean — is the exception. And I specifically mean the bean, not extract. Instead of simply being a hit of flavor, like extract, a split bean slowly leaches its fragrant aroma into the sauce as it cooks, making for a rounder, more delicate vanilla flavor that enhances any fruit. Plus, those little black specks from inside the bean that fall into the sauce are so beautiful.
Pour It Over Everything
How to use this fruit sauce? The possibilities are endless. Warm, it's best spooned over vanilla ice cream or poured over pancakes and waffles. It's also wonderful over rice pudding or panna cotta. Leftovers are also great on your morning yogurt or oatmeal.
How To Make Summer Fruit Sauce in the Slow Cooker
Makes about 5 cups
What You Need
mixed summer fruit (berries, stone fruit, rhubarb, cherries, or a combination)
vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
3-quart or larger slow cooker
Wooden spoon or rubber spatula
Prepare the fruit: Wash and dry berries, chop stone fruit or rhubarb into 1/2-inch pieces, and pit and halve cherries.
Combine the ingredients: Place all the ingredients into a 3-quart or larger slow cooker and stir to combine. Cover the slow cooker.
Cook the sauce: Depending on the fruit, the cooking time will vary. On the high setting, berries will take 2 to 3 hours, while stone fruit, rhubarb, and cherries will take 3 to 4 hours. The fruit should be softened and sauce-like when finished.
Finish the sauce: Remove the vanilla bean. Serve the warm sauce over pancakes or ice cream.
Sauce consistency: This produces a chunky, rustic fruit sauce. If you'd prefer a smoother consistency, strain the finished sauce through a fine-mesh strainer set over a bowl.
Storage: Store the sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
- Food styling by Ayda Robana