Thursday, January 27, 2011

Homemade Applesauce

The situation:

No no no.. not that kind of situation...but at least I have your attention.

Let's restart this...

The dilemma:

I bought a 38lb case of apples a couple months ago for a two person household.  I was thinking that it would be an easy snack for us to grab and me to cook with but I wasn't factoring in my husband's instincts in the kitchen.

I will freely admit that I have a firmly disorganized hold on my kitchen.  Everything is in a general state of chaos but I can generally find what I'm looking for.  But that doesn't mean that anyone else can find what they are looking for.

In order to help my husband, I created two shelves that were "husband" shelves.  That's where I store snack items, soup, cereal, etc.  If he is hungry, that's where he can go to find snacks or food.  However, I didn't have the forethought to keep the husband shelves stocked with apples from my 38lb stash.  So here I am 2 months later with 30lb to go still.  What's a girl to do?

I know I have to cook or preserve them ASAP so home canned applesauce seems to be the best solution.  Why make your own applesauce when the stuff in store is fairly cheap?  To quote my husband (my test kitchen eater), "This actually tastes like a fresh apple!"  The flavors from making your own applesauce are so much more intense than the store-bought variety... go figure, eh?

So off my beauties go into a bath to prep for the day ahead.

 I really wanted to keep the sugar levels down in my applesauce because we are watching our sugar levels.  Who am I kidding... we wanted to save our sugar for the chocolate oatmeal bars that I was making later.  However since these are Golden Delicious apples I did add a small amount of sugar.  Other than that I don't add any other seasoning or spices because I like to cook with applesauce and need the flavor to be basic.  For more on what to do with your applesauce, see my upcoming post entitled "So you canned homemade applesauce, now what?"

Homemade Canned Applesauce

12 quarts apples, cleaned, cored, quartered, then chop each quarter into three equal pieces
1 cup sugar (optional)
4 Tbsp lemon juice
5 32oz. canning jars, sterilized

1.) Put enough water in your boiling water canner to cover the jars with 1" of water. Heat jars and lids in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Set bands aside.

2.) Combine apples with just enough water to prevent sticking in a large stainless steel saucepan. My largest is 6 quarts so I cook the apples in two batches.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 20 minutes, until apples are tender (time will depend upon the variety of apple and their maturity). Remove from heat and let cool slightly, about 5 minutes.

I don't peel my apples because the foodmill sifts them out anyhow
3.) Transfer apples, working in batches, to a food mill or a food processor fitted with a metal blade and purée until smooth.  I highly recommend a food mill.  It's incredibly easy and, as a bonus, it makes great mashed potatoes.

4.) Return apple purée to saucepan. Since the apples will be reduced by about half by now, I can usually fit both batches in one pot at this point.  Add sugar, if using, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. Maintain a gentle boil over low heat while filing jars.  Be sure to bring the heat down.  If applesauce is at a rolling boil it tends to spew out sauce like a volcano.  I still have some applesauce on the ceiling of my kitchen.

5.) Ladle hot applesauce into hot jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band until fit is fingertip tight.

6.) Process jars in a boiling water canner for 20 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.

Here are a few links for more resources on home canning:
I recommend the Oxo food mill.  I found one that was cheaper but the bowl grips that hold the mill over the bowl you are grinding into set the bottom too close to the bottom of my pots.  The Oxo brand has grips at the base of the mill so it stays out of the pan entirely.

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  1. I have to say that the biggest benefit with making your own applesauce is actually knowing what goes into it. The ingredient list on some of the store stuff is scary. I also love blending together several varieties to create a much greater depth of flavor. And my favorite reason to can my own is that I get to add cranberries to the mix. It is my favorite combo and you rarely find it in store, at least grocery stores in Alaska.

  2. @Nicole - Hello from a fellow Alaskan. We used to have high bush cranberries growing in our back yard (aka forest) when I was growing up in the Mat-Su Valley. But I have to say that high bush cranberries are WAY different from what you find in stores. My mom used to try and get me to eat them all the time LOL. I also agree that knowing exactly what's in my food is fantastic. That's why I'm so excited to make more of my own.

  3. I agree, high bush cranberries are in a league of their own. I was referring to low-bush which are the same as the Scandinavian Lingonberry. I have a hard time with the High Bush ones, they grow plentifully around our house and I think they smell like old socks. I usually have to run up the hill beyond where they grow while trying not to breath to get to our hiking spots, when they are fully ripe in the fall.
    Did your Mom ever make Eskimo Ice Cream?




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