Harvest is in full swing. After a summer filled with salads, melons and berries, get ready for fall colored seasonal fruits and vegetables and concentrate on the bounty that is coming in from the orchards, fields and vineyards. It’s also the time of year to make the most of what’s available now and sock it away for the long cold winter ahead. Making applesauce with fruit freshly picked from the trees is a great way to get started.
While the star of the show is the apple, only a few other items (plus the better part of the day!) are needed to make applesauce. Choose apples that are inherently sweeter than the typical Red Delicious variety. Depending on personal taste, select Granny Smith, Jonathan, Fuji, Gala, or McIntosh apples. Varieties will be different in every region so be sure to stop by the local farmer’s market or apple orchard for the best selection. Be as simple (one variety only) or as creative (combination of varieties) for every batch of applesauce made this season!
Apples, 20 lbs minimum
Large pot, 2 (one for cooking and one for canning)
Canning jars, pint or quart size (plan on having at least 2 dozen available to use)
Canning lids/rings (purchase new ones if using existing, otherwise these are included with all new jars)
Ladle, 1 large
Bucket, 2-4 medium size
Prep the canning supplies by washing and rinsing jars, lids and rings. Then place them in a large pot of boiling water for 20 minutes to sterilize. Remove using a jar grabber and lid lifter. Place them on a clean towel or paper towel to air dry.
With a bucket at least half filled with water and a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice, peel apples using a vegetable peeler and place them in the bucket with the water/lemon juice mixture until it’s time to start cooking. When at least one bucket is filled, remove the apples and begin slicing them into small ½ inch cubes. Place the cubes in a pot with approximately 1 inch of water on the bottom to prevent scorching. Cook on med-high heat until the apple cubes begin to soften.
Using a potato masher, mash the apples until desired consistency (chunky or smooth) is reached. Be sure to do this frequently so apples won’t burn to the bottom of the pot.
When the applesauce is ready, use a ladle and scoop the sauce into the jars using a funnel placed in the opening and fill until ¼ inch below the lip. Wipe off any excess and seal the jars using clean lids and rings. Make sure the ring around the lid is tight. Using the jar grabber, place the jars back into the pot of boiling water for at least 20 minutes. Make sure the water completely covers the jars. Using the jar lifter again, remove the jars and place on a towel and let them cool naturally.
The canning process is complete when the lid has been sucked down. Check the jars by gently pressing the center of the lid. If it pops up and down, making a popping sound, the jars are not sealed. If this happens, remove the lid and ring, replace with a fresh pair and tighten the ring around the lid again. Replace in the bath of boiling water and boil the jar again for 20 minutes.
Yield: 1 – 2 dozen jars, depending on quantity and size of apples and size of jars.
Optional: Add cinnamon to the applesauce before ladling into the jars.
Making applesauce is easy. It usually requires a day to complete but will be so worth the effort come this winter when it is paired with pork chops, a hearty beef stew or that Thanksgiving turkey.
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©2012 Susan Dusterhoft, All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced without prior permissions from the author or Clarity Digital Group LLC d/b/a/ quadrust.com.