Archive for December, 2011
“Goodness comes out of people who bask in the sun, as it does out of a sweet apple roasted before the fire.”
- Charles Dudley Warner
Store-bought applesauce is nearly always pale yellow but the really good stuff (the stuff from your own kitchen) is much darker, more like a rich buttery-brown caramel color. Gorgeous! I’m partial, of course, but I think it looks as lovely in a canning jar as it does set out in a bowl as a delectable side to your Winter feast (or hurried weekday dinner).
The process of making and canning applesauce is easier than you might expect, requires no special equipment, and makes for a lovely Sunday project!
15 Pounds of apples (for best flavor avoid ‘Granny Smith’ apples and choose an assortment of pinks, reds, and yellows)
1 Cup sugar
6-8 Cinnamon sticks
1 Teaspoon nutmeg
6-8 Quart-sized canning jars + matching lids
First things first, peel, core and chop the apples.
If you prefer smooth applesauce…. Cut your apples into sixteenths. The small pieces will break down during the cooking process and you can run the cooked mixture through a blender for a silky-smooth texture.
If you prefer chunky ‘rustic-style’ applesauce… Cut some apples into fourths (these quarters will end up as larger, bite-sized bits) and others into eights and sixteenths. Most of the smaller bits will turn to mush but the larger pieces will soften up nicely and diminish only slightly in size.
Put all the apple bits in a large pot and add enough water so that the liquid is nearly level with the pieces. Turn the burner to medium-high and cook for 3-4 hours, stirring every so often so that nothing has a chance to stick to the bottom and burn. Do not put a lid on your pot, you want the excess water to turn to steam and evaporate.
To sterilize your jars and lids, wash them well with hot soapy water or run them through the dishwasher and then bake them in the oven at 250 for at least 30 minutes. This “bake it clean method” is something I learned from ‘The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook’ and I’ve never had any problems with it. If you have concerns about food safety and would like to try a different method, Google ‘how to sterilize glass jars for canning’ for some alternate ideas.
Back to the applesauce… As the mixture cooks, the apple bits will darken in color and begin disintegrating into mush. (This is good! You’re doing great so far and your house probably smells fantastic right about now!)
Once your sauce is close to reaching your desired consistency, remove the glass jars from the oven and place a single cinnamon stick into each jar. Arrange the lids nearby.
Once your sauce is just right, turn the heat off, add the nutmeg and sugar and stir well. If you prefer silky-smooth applesauce, this is the time to pour your applesauce into the blender a few cups at a time and blend until the mixture has reached your ideal consistency.
Fill each jar with hot applesauce and use a clean rag to wipe the rims clean. Immediately screw the lids on until they are just snug and place them back into the oven for another 15 minutes. Remove the jars from the oven and set them on an even surface to cool for at least 6 hours. You should hear the jar-lids pop shortly, an indication that all has gone well and your jars have sealed properly (you are such a canning rockstar!) Once the jars have popped and are cool to the touch, screw the lid-rings on more tightly. Any jars that have not sealed properly can be stored in the refrigerator and eaten in the next few weeks. Yum-yum!
What’s your favorite thing to eat with applesauce? (I love it with potato pancakes!)