I think that if it weren’t for tomatoes and applesauce, all of us who were formerly “preserving-challenged” would never have given it a real attempt. I mean, jams and jellies are great to eat, but it’s a lot of work (although definitely worth it) for something that only impresses your friends once and you can get for like a dollar at the store. But few things are more satisfying than opening a jar of pure summer in the form of your garden’s canned tomatoes, or in this case a jar of perfect fall in the form of applesauce. In February, the crappiest month of the year when nothing fresh or beautiful can possibly happen, suddenly you can pop open a jar of September and remember the colors of the leaves and the empty blue sky and just the tips of your nose and ears getting cold as you picked out your favorite apples to preserve.
Last year was Rachel’s and my second year making applesauce, and it was honestly disappointing. At the fateful advice of the random orchard lady we consulted, we ended up with some of the firmest, tartest apples that exist. The sauce was thick and puckery and not very tasty, and it even clogged up our friends’ squeezo (for those of you who know what that is). So my advice to you is to do your research– find an apple that is sweet and soft and learn to love it. We’ve had good luck with cortlands and jonagolds, but there’s plenty of room to branch out. Many people even mix a few kinds of apples to get a more complex flavor.
We like to add as little sugar as possible, so adjust this to your taste and to your apples. Any applesauce will be acidic enough to can, so once you like it, process it according to the procedure in this post or ask questions in the comments.
What are your applesauce stories? What’s your favorite variety of apple?
10 lbs apples (or however much you want to process)
sugar (if needed)
cinnamon (if desired)
This made about 4 quarts (8 pints) for us, but results may vary.
Halve or quarter your apples and cut out the seeds and stem. We like to leave the skins on to add to the flavor (and save some work, to be honest), but that’s up to you.
Fill your biggest pot with the apple pieces and pour an inch of water into the bottom. Gently bring the pot to heat.
As the water steams the apples, they’ll give off their own juices and the pot will keep filling up and softening the rest of the fruit. Continue until you get everything to a good simmer/almost boil, and let it cook like that for awhile.
After 20-30 minutes, your apples should be soft enough to mush with a spoon or something. If they’re not, cook a little longer.
Process the apples through your sauce maker of choice. We like our little food mill; it’s small, but gets through a lot of applesauce pretty quickly, and it keeps the peels separate.
Once you’re done, you should have a nice, soft applesauce at the bottom of your bowl. Taste and add sugar if needed, and cinnamon if wanted.
Spoon into jars with 3/4 inch headspace and process in a hot water bath for 15 minutes.
Set aside for a cold winter evening when you need a little fruit and joy in your life. Enjoy!