Thursday, November 3, 2011

How To Make and Can Homemade Applesauce

Growing up, my grandma had an apple orchard. After picking, sorting and selling most of the apples, we would gather in her kitchen to make applesauce. I remember standing over the steamy cooked apples and stirring, and doing other jobs that little girls could do.

This year was the first year that I've made my own applesauce.  Apples are abundant here in upstate New York and I was able to find a great deal on some freshly picked, local apples.

We used two (and maybe three, I can't remember) varieties of apples: Cortlands and Jonah Golds for sure.  First up was washing the apples.

We used an outdoor table for the peeling and chopping. Even though it was cold, it was worth it because the mess stayed outside.  And the peeling and chopping is MESSY!

My in-laws brought two of these apple corers/peelers with them for us to borrow to make the applesauce. They clamp onto a table top, and you stick the apple into the skewer and turn the lever, and with a few exceptions, it peels the apple and removes the core.

When I made applesauce with my mom and grandma growing up, I remember cooking the apples with peels and cores in, and then when they were soft and cooked, pushing them through a device that strained the seeds and skin off. I remember it being very sticky and hot.

After peeling and coring the apples, we chopped them into loose fourths.  Not an exact science, just to help them cooked down faster.

 Then we piled apples into pots with some water and started the cooking process.  We stirred every once in a while (to make sure the bottoms weren't burning) and added more water as needed, cooking on medium heat.

I didn't get many pictures of all the steps because I didn't even think about documenting it until we were halfway through! So these are just the pictures of what we thought to get, and you'll have to fill in the blanks.

 When the apples were soft and really cooked down, we added sugar. Not too much (although that is personal preference) maybe a cup or so per pot.  We also left out cinnamon, just personal preference.  With everything stirred together, we used an immersion blender to blend up the cooked apples. It's up to (you guessed it) personal preference to decide whether you like the applesauce chunky, semi chunky or really smooth.

After the apples were cooked down, mixed and blended, we laded the sauce into clean jars, leaving an inch or a half of head space near the top. Remember you need to have the lids in boiling water before you place them on the jars, and DON'T FORGET to clean the tops of the jars with a clean wet dishcloth before putting the lids and rings on, you don't want any bacteria growth.  For a more detailed step-by-step canning process check out the pear canning tutorial here. 

After the jars were filled, cleaned and lids were put on tightly, we filled up our water canning pot and started processing the applesauce.

In our area and altitude, we processed the jars for 20 minutes.  Be sure to check with your local co-op extension service for processing times in your area.

When the jars were processed, we lifted them out, let them cool, and waited for the "pop" to let us know it had sealed! There's nothing more satisfying than hearing a chorus of jars sealing after a long days' work.

Sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labors all winter long!

There are great canning books, and you can read tutorials all you want, but I really believe that the best way to learn how to can is by canning with someone who has done it over and over again.  In this case, Mountain Man's parents were visiting and made the applesauce with me. I learned more from their canning experience than I would have just following some written instructions. So cozy up to a neighbor or family member who has canning experience and see if you can learn some tricks of the trade which are passed down from generations.

Anyone else make applesauce this fall, or are planning to?


Anonymous said...

Rather than peeling my apples before making applesauce, I wash them and cut them in to quarters or eighths and simmer until soft. Next - run them through a European Tomato Press to separate the pulp from the skin and seeds (run the pulp through 2 or 3 times). Reheat the extracted sauce, then can.

Lee Valley Tools sells the tomato press and it is one of my absolute favorite preserving tools. The link to the US site is below


I have no affiliation with Lee Valley Tools other than being a happy customer :)

MA & PA Walker said...

Your applesauce appears similar to ours in color; we use Macintosh which are similar to Cortland.

Me said...

I've seen this on another blog too so I just thought I'd ask. Why are you using the jar lifter tongs upside down? Is there a reason for this that I am unaware of? The curved part, in my mind anyway, seems like it would be more secure under the jar lip. Thanks for your awesome blog and generous sharing of your talents.

Abs said...

@Me, if I have been using my tongs upside down for years I will be super embarrassed! They don't come with an instruction manual you know! :)