A few weeks back… ok so maybe about a month or so ago (I am very behind on my blog), my oldest daughter, Becky and I went apple picking. We had waited too long for my favorites: MacIntosh and Honeycrisp. They were no longer in the orchard, but there were plenty in the orchard store. However, we were determined to pick our own apples and make applesauce from them. We consulted with the fieldman about the best blend of apples for saucing and what our favorite apple flavors were (tart and sweet). A suggestion of Rome and Stayman was made, directions were given to the appropriate orchards, and off we went.
Making applesauce has to be one of the easiest cooking experiences there is. As a matter of fact, I sort of remember it as being one of the first things we learned to cook in Home Ec in seventh grade, or was it in Girl Scouts? I don’t really remember… I do remember my Mom making applesauce at home, the wonderful aroma and the taste of fresh apples and applesauce, ummmmmmmm. And making applesauce has been a Christmas Eve tradition for my children and myself since our family was formed, so it isn’t something I am new to. Making more than one jarful was a new experience, but again, not too difficult. It is something you can do with your children and they can feel that they really participated in the process.
Recipe for Applesauce
Phew, that took some time to write. You can use as many apples as you want, or as few as two apples, to make your sauce. I used about 9 pounds (see the bowl) of my 15 pound haul and about 1/2 cup of water for the pot. The amount of water you need will depend on the number of apples and the type of apple(s) you are using. For four servings of applesauce, use four apples, work from there to determine the number of apples you want.
Wash you apples well. Then slice and core them. There is no need to peel them, the skins will add flavor and color to the sauce. However, if you don’t have a nifty Foley Food Mill and you don’t feel like mashing the suckers through a sieve, you can peel them. If you have one of those handy dandy apple-corer-slicer gizmos it makes this job a snap, and one that your wee-ones can help along with. If the wee-ones are helping, count on one sample taste from each apple when you are planning your amount of apples. If you don’t have an apple-corer-slicer and the wee-ones want to help, those handy dandy pumpkin carving safety knives with the orange handles work well for apple slicing.
Put your sliced and cored apples into a pot and add about a 1/4 cup of water (if you are using only two or three apples, use a small pot and 2 tablespoons of water). If you are making a big momma pot of applesauce for canning, add 1/2 cup of water.
Cook the apples over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally to prevent them from burning on the bottom of the pot (It’s a terrible mess to clean). When apples are really mushy and the kitchen smells heavenly, it is time to mash them into sauce.
If you peeled your apples, you can mash them by hand with a potato masher, puree them with a hand blender, toss them onto a blender or a food processor and process until the desired consistency. If you kept on the peels, place a food mill or large sieve over a large bowl or pot. Add a few spoonfuls of cooked apples and give the food mill a few whirls or mash the apples using the back of a spoon through the sieve. These are both great opportunities for the wee ones to pitch in and help – especially with the food mill, my 7 year old son loved doing this. Continue mashing, occasionally removing the skins, until all the apples are mashed.
If you will be eating the applesauce within a week, you can just store in the fridge. If you want to keep the sauce around longer, you can freeze it in containers or you can can it.
To can the applesauce, prepare your jars and lids by washing in hot soapy water. Place the lids and rings in a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer, simmer for at least 10 minutes. Place the jars in a large pot of water, covering the jars by 1-2 inches. Bring to a boil and boil for 10 minutes. Remove jars from water with tongs. Ladle in your hot applesauce leaving a quarter inch of space at the rim (if your applesauce cooled – reheat, carefully to avoid splatter and burns). Wipe up any spills, place on lids and finger tighten the rings. Put the jars into a pot of boiling water and process for 15 minutes. Allow to cool. Check the lids to be sure they sealed (if you press on the lid and it gives, it hasn’t sealed, store in the fridge and use within the week).