Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Applesauce Time Again!

It seems I'm on a food kick lately...ya get what ya get!

Earlier this week, we got some apples for $0.63/pound, so we turned this:
And this:

Into this:
I've posted about making applesauce before, but the pictures on that post aren't fabulous, so we're gonna do it all over again.

First things first, if you haven't done any canning before, skip on over to the National Center for Home Food Preservation and read up on general canning technique.

And if you're going to process apples with any regularity, invest in a peeler/corer/slicer*. We bought a cheap one at the grocery store several years ago and abused it for a long time and it gave up the ghost when we tried to use it, so we went out to the store and bought the one linked above last week. It's much sturdier and seems like it will last longer. It has a 5 year warranty, anyway. You can peel, core and chop your apples by hand, it just takes a LONG time.

Then it's time to move forward with making the applesauce. 12 pounds of apples will give you about 8 pints (or 4 quarts) of applesauce. Get the appropriate number of jars, plus one more for fudge factor and wash all the jars (we were given a lot of jars by my grandmother and now that we don't have a dishwasher, I've figured out why she had so many wide-mouth's hard to fit your hand into a narrow mouth jar to wash it!!). Make sure there are no chips or breaks on your jars. Then put the jars in your canner or a very large pot, add water and put it on the stove (the goal is to heat the jars...if you have a dishwasher, you could also run them through a rinse cycle) Time to peel, core and slice those apples. 6 year olds love to do this. When you do a batch at night (because we have three small kids, there's usually not time to do this stuff during normal, daylight hours), you may hear a 6 year old yell tearfully from her bed, "save 2 apples for me to do!!"

Once they've been sliced, I cut them into quarters and cut out any pieces of core that might have been left behind. Then the apples get dumped into a dilute lemon juice mixture to help preserve their color. 1/2c lemon juice in 8 cups water.
Then I just scoop the apples out with my hands (fabulous time to catalog every small nick you might have) and put them all in a very large pot over medium heat. Covering the pot helps trap steam and cook the apples faster.
Once they're soft, scoop the apples (leave most of the liquid behind) into a food processor and process until you get the consistency you want

Now it's applesauce. Put it into another pot (because your original pot is still full of apple chunks), add 1/4c lemon juice, and heat until it bubbles (but be careful because it'll sputter at you). You can taste your applesauce now and decide if you want to add sugar or not (depends on what type of apples you used...galas are fine without any sugar, but a lot of other varieties might need some). Add up to 3 cups of sugar until it tastes good to you. This batch was made with Braeburn apples, and I added 1 cup of sugar for every 12 pounds of apples. If you would like spiced applesauce, this is also the time to add it. If you add spices directly, they'll clump and taste bad, so mix them in with some sugar first. You want about 3-4tsp of spices, total. Depends on what you like, but about 2tsp of cinnamon, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp all spice and 1/4 tsp cloves is a decent start. Be brave and estimate.

Once the applesauce is bubbling, turn off the heat and ladel the hot applesauce into the hot jars. Put on your lids and bands, and process in a boiling water bath (15 minutes for pints at 0-1,000 elevation; 20 minutes for pints at 1,001-6,000 feet elevation).

*affiliate link

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