How to Can Applesauce
A couple of days ago, my sister and I loaded the kids in the car for our first of several fall trips over the mountain to Kiyokawa Family Orchards in Parkdale, Oregon on a mission to get apples to pick apples and can applesauce. There are tons of great apple orchards between Parkdale and Hood River. Check out the Fruit Loop map for more.
Those of you hard-core frugalistas might be whipping out your mental calculators and thinking, “What? Drive 136 miles round trip for apples!? What a waste of resources!” I beg to differ. In one afternoon, I spent time with my sister, took tons of fun photographs, watched my kids play in a fort, talked to my daughter about the fact that apples grow on trees (!), and enjoyed a beautiful drive through some of the best fall scenery Oregon has to offer. Oh, and we also picked up some fruit.
Try doing all that next time you are in WinCo. But seriously, I firmly believe that building memories with my children while accomplishing a task is one of the best uses of time and money during this fleeting season of life.
Last year I talked about freezing homemade applesauce. So many of you commented that I should can it. I had to try it, and you were right. It really is a simple process of washing, chopping, cooking, filling, and processing. I’ll walk you through the steps below.
If you’d rather stick with freezing your own applesauce, go for it! You still gain all the benefits while just using a different method for storing and opening the final product.
As with all canning, the first step is to sterilize your jars. I just run mine through the dishwasher. If you don’t have a dishwasher, you can also hand wash your jars, fill them with water, submerge in a canner of water and simmer them for 10 minutes.
Next step, wash and quarter your apples. You can really use any combination of cooking apple you want. The sweeter the apple, the less sugar (if any) you will need to add. The softer the apple, the faster it will cook. For this batch, I used a combination of Golden Delicious, Jonagold, and Tsugaru. You can even add pears to the mix for added flavor and sweetness.
I paid 69¢ per pound for my apples this year. You could probably swing a better deal if you look for the ugly ones. I think Kiyokawa sells them as “juice apples.” According to Ball, it should take around 2.5-3.5 pounds of apples per quart. I found that to be pretty conservative; figure on closer to 3-4 pounds per quart (a canner holds seven quarts).
If you have a food mill/strainer, you don’t need to peel or core your apples. You can purchase a decent model on Amazon for around $60. If you are doing a big batch of applesauce, this is a good thing.
If you don’t have one of those beautiful inventions, then you’ll need to peel and core your apples. An Apple Peeler/Corer/Slicer (Amazon) is a great, inexpensive tool for this.
Place your apples in a pot with about 1 inch of water in the bottom to prevent scorching. Obviously, the more water you use, the thinner your applesauce will be. I pour some of the liquid off as the apples start to cook down and release juice so that my applesauce isn’t super runny.
It’s better to use a couple wide pots than one deep stockpot so the apples can be stirred easily and cooked evenly.
Simmer on medium heat, stirring often, until the apples have cooked down to a soft consistency (time will vary according to which apple variety you use). Your house will fill with a heavenly, homey aroma.
Once your jars are sanitized you want to keep them warm. If you time it right or if your dishwasher has a setting for it, you can take them piping hot from the dishwasher. If not, set your oven to a low temperature (180ish), place the jars on a tray, and keep them warm until you are ready to fill them.
Sanitize and prepare your lids and rings by simmering them in a small saucepan for 10 minutes.
Once your apple mixture is soft, place it in a food mill/strainer or food processor/blender to achieve the desired consistency. If you like a thicker, chunkier applesauce, skip this step (assuming you cored & peeled your apples).
For those of you who want to freeze your applesauce, you are almost finished! Add sugar (optional), place it in bags or containers, pop them in your freezer, and put your feet up.
Return the smooth applesauce to a large pot and heat it back to a simmer. The applesauce does not require any additional cooking; you just want to keep it hot. I added my applesauce to this pot as I pureed it.
If desired, you can stir in some sugar at this point. I didn’t add any sugar to my sauce, and it is still sweet and flavorful. I am planning to use it both for eating and as an oil substitute in baking. If you want to get fancy, you could also add spices like ginger or cinnamon.
Working quickly and carefully, ladle the hot applesauce into the hot jars. Using a wide-mouth funnel makes the job much easier. And remember, putting a hot substance into a cold jar is bad news. Avoid a big headache and a bigger mess by keeping everything nice and hot.
Leave 1/2 inch headspace at the top of each jar (about the bottom of the jar threads).
Using a nonmetallic utensil, slide it along the inside of each jar to release any trapped air bubbles.
Wipe each jar rim with a clean towel.
Place the sterilized lids on the jar mouth and screw the rings on finger tight.
Place the hot, filled jars into a canner partially filled with warm water. Make sure the jars are covered with about 1 inch of water. Cover the canner with the lid and bring the water to a boil.
According to Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, process both pints and quarts in a simmering water bath for 20 minutes.
When the timer rings, remove the jars using a jar lifter. The jar lids will suck in as they cool and seal. Check jar lids and move any that don’t seal to the refrigerator to be eaten soon.
Cool the jars completely before removing the rings and storing them in a cool, dark place.
Enjoy your jars of home canned fall goodness for months to come!
As with any new homemaking adventure, do your research first. Here are some good resources where you can find additional information/recipes:
- Homemade Spiced Applesauce from Food in Jars
- How to Make Homemade Applesauce from Pick Your Own
- OSU Extension Service
- Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving (Amazon)
Leave a comment! What do you plan to do with those incredible Northwest apples this year?
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