Place apple chunks in a 5- or 6-quart slow cooker. Stir in 1/2 cup sugar and 4 to 6 inches stick cinnamon (omit thyme and water). Cover; cook on high-heat setting 3-1/2 to 4 hours or until apples are very tender. Cool mixture 1 hour; remove cinnamon. Mash slightly with a potato masher, or process with an immersion blender or food processor. Sweeten to taste with granulated sugar. Stir before serving.
Quick-cool applesauce by placing Dutch oven or slow cooker liner in sink filled with ice water; stir mixture to cool. Ladle into wide-top freezer containers, leaving 1/2-inch head space; seal, label and freeze.