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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Applesauce Time!


This box of apples showed up at my house a few days ago, thanks to some generous friends. That's about 20 pounds of apples. When you have a windfall like that, you need to do something on a large scale so I made a lot of applesauce. Homemade "canned" applesauce is easy and delicious. You can make it as sweet as you like - I don't like it very sweet. Canning requires some equipment and some labor but it isn't hard. If you have a decent sized garden, canning skills are almost part of being a gardener. That's why you plant a garden - so you can sock away all that bounty for those dreary days in winter. I'm sure this applesauce will be a ray of sunshine in my winter.

Twelve pints is a lot of apple sauce. My canner will only hold 7 pint jars. You may have to can this in two batches like I did.

Sharon's Applesauce
(makes 12 pints)

12 pounds apples, cored and cut into chunks*
citric acid to prevent browning (also called Fruit Fresh)
4 cups apple juice or apple cider
1 vanilla bean
1 thumb-sized chunk of ginger
1 4" stick of cinnamon
4 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon)

As you cut up the apples, place them in a large bowl with water and citric acid (check the Fruit Fresh label instructions on mixing this). Drain well and put the apples, apple juice, vanilla bean, ginger, and cinnamon in a large stockpot. Cook over medium-high heat until it reaches a boil. Stir, and reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook until the apples are falling apart tender, stirring occasionally. How long that is depends on the type of apples you are using. My apples took about 30 minutes to fall apart. Remove from the heat. Remove the lump of ginger and cinnamon; discard. Remove the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the sauce. Using an immersion (or wand) blender to break up the apples. I like my applesauce chunky. If you want a smoother applesauce, puree in a blender in batches - this will take a while!

Wash 12 wide-mouth pint jars. Fill your canner pot about half full with water. Place the jars in the canner on a rack; it's easier if you fill the jars partially with water before putting them in the canner, because they try to float. Add enough water to cover the jars by 1" of water and bring it to a boil. Wash 12 jar lids and 12 rings, and set aside while you get the water boiling.

While you are waiting for the water to boil, return the applesauce to the stockpot, add the lemon juice, and stir. Reheat over medium-low and maintain it at a simmer until the canner is ready.

Remove the jars and drain. Fill each jar within ½" of the rim. Remove any air bubbles. Put on a lid, screw on the ring, and place in the canner. As soon as the water in the canner returns to a boil, start your timer. At my elevation (nearly 5400 ft.), can for 30 minutes. At sea level, you only need 20 minutes.

Remove the jars to a rack covered with a towel and let cool. After 24 hours, check seals: the jars are sealed correctly if the lids don't flex up and down when pressed.

*You can peel the apples if you like but I don't. The skins on my apples are tender and I hardly notice that the apples weren't peeled, but your apples may have tougher skins.

Adapted from the Ball website, which is a great collection of preserving and canning know-how.

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