This year my family got together and made applesauce for the first time. For some magical reason the planets aligned and we had not only 2 bushels of FREE apples, but we also had a free day this weekend to make SAUCE. Happy Dance. And by “free day” I mean, “We are already canning 40 lbs of canning beef this weekend so we might as well ...”
Funny how everything has to come at once. We had planned on doing the applesauce, then we got that faithful call from the meat processor that our steer was ready for pick up. All blessings of course ... we have meat for our freezer and tasty applesauce for the dead of winter. The work is totally worth it. Plus you get the added bonus of family time, and passing traditions down through the generations.
Since we have never canned anything apple ever before I spent some serious time researching recipes and methods. I have to admit that I was a bit surprised that 9 out of 10 A-Sauce recipes recommended water-bath canning. SWEET.
As with every method we altered it for our purposes. Almost every recipe called for simply quartering the apples then cooking them down then scooping them out and into the food mill then back onto the heat then into jars then the canner — seemed like a lot more steps and more mess potential than we were into ... plus the thought of all the chemicals and yuckiness on the skin marinating in our sauce kinda gave me the heebies.
SO we busted out the trusted apple peeler/corer and went to town (you can pick one up for like 15 smackers at most stores or on Amazon). We had an ulterior motive with this method too, since we wanted the skins and cores to make apple cider vinegar. The rest went to the chickens. Waste not want not.
We also did not use a food mill. Instead we used a hand mixer right in the pot on the stove. It worked great and in case you didn't know a hand mixer has WAY less parts to clean than a food mill. As my dad always says “Work Smarter Not Harder.”
No extra acid was used in our recipe, you can add lemon or citric acid, however some claim that it causes an off flavor so we opted out. Sugar is an optional add in too, it all comes down to taste. Since the babies would be the main eaters of the applesauce we chose to not add sugar. The apples we had were a mix of lord-knows-what varying in texture, size, color, and acidity. Our end product had enough acid that we were comfortable skipping it and the sugar both, simply for taste reasons and safety, too.
Acquire your apples. You want a nice mix of sweet and tart apples. We aren't really sure what kind of apples we ended up with, but we could tell that there were three distinct varieties ranging from tart to sweet and crisp to soft.
Core and peel your apples. You can see we saved our skins and cores and stuffed them in half gallon jars for apple cider vinegar making. Another blog for another time.
A pot of cored and peeled apples ready for cooking.
Apples cooking down. We worked in batches with two large pots on the stove. Cook them until they are nice and soft and easily mashable.
We used a hand mixer in the pot to "sauce" our sauce. It has some teeny weenie chunks in it. It's homemade, the perfection is in the imperfection.
Fill your jars. We use a 2 cup measuring cup to scoop into jars rather than a ladle. We find that we have more control over the lava hot substance, and it takes less trips from the heat source to the jars. Be sure to tap your jars gently to get out all the air bubbles or stick a utensil down into the jars to free up bubbles.
Add your jars to the hot water bath canner. Wait for the water to boil then set your timer for 20 minutes. Remove your jars and let them cool on a towel. The sound of can lids popping is the best sound in the world!
Happy Applesauce Making!
Have any tips for next time? Share them in the comments section!