Introduction: Homemade Applesauce
Applesauce, made from scratch after a day of apple picking. It's delicious and healthy and we enjoy it all year long. There is also absolutely no waste! I made it after making an apple pie, threw the peels and cores from the pie into the pot with the whole apples, and only had peels and seeds left over for the compost pile in the backyard.
You will need apples, about 1/2 bushel for 7 quart jars of sauce. You will also need a food mill of some sort, either hand crank or electric. Canning jars and lids round out the supplies.
Step 1: Pick Some Apples
We love to go apple picking and have several terrific farms to choose from near our house. This year we went to a farm with rows and rows of heirloom trees and really interesting varieties. We picked several different ones, but mostly northern spy, wolf river, Braeburn and Fuji. They cooked down to a wonderful, thick, sweet sauce!
Step 2: Prepare the Apples
I simply wash and quarter the apples and throw them in a heavy stock pot. I add about a half cup of apple cider to the pot so they don't burn on the bottom. If you've picked enough apples for a pie, make that first. I usually make several, one to enjoy and 2 or 3 more for the freezer. Save the peels and cores, and throw them in with the apples and cider. There's still a lot of usable apple on the peels and cores after cleaning them for a pie. I used 1/2 bushel of apples plus the peels and cores from a couple of pies and ended up with 7 quarts of sauce, plus a bowl to enjoy with dinner tonight!
Step 3: Cook the Apples Down
Cover the stock pot. With the heat on the stove on medium, start cooking the apples down. Once the cider starts boiling and the apples start to release their juice turn the heat down to low and just let them simmer. Give them a stir every 15 minutes or so to make sure they are cooking down evenly and not sticking to the bottom. After about 45 minutes you should have apples that are completely broken down and can easily be mashed with a spoon.
Step 4: Strain the Apples
You will need a food mill type strainer for the next step. You can use a small hand held one or a larger crank type. I make a lot, so I have a large handle crank food mill to do the job. There are electric varieties, mine is not, but luckily I have a kid to turn the handle for me! Ladle the hot apples into the top and start cranking. Soon you will have a huge pot of sauce and just a small bowl of seeds and skin to compost.
Step 5: Cook the Sauce
Once the apples have all been strained pour the sauce back into the washed out stock pot. If you want you can add some brown sugar, white sugar or cinnamon. I find the apples we pick to be quite sweet, so I don't add any sugar. I do add a bottle of cinnamon decoration candies! It gives the applesauce a slight cinnamon flavor and turns it a really pretty pink color! Stir the candies into the sauce and heat it up until they are completely dissolved.
Step 6: Canning the Applesauce.
Wash the canning jars in hot, soapy water and place the lids in another pan of boiling water. Fill your canner with water and start heating it up too. Fill the jars with the hot apple sauce, clean off the tops of the jars and place the lids and rings on top of the jars. Lift the jars into the canner and lower them into the water. Make sure the water completely covers the tops of the jars. Once the water in the canner is boiling, process the jars for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes take them out and let them cool on the counter. You should hear the jars "pop" as they seal.
Step 7: Store, Open and Enjoy
I usually let the jars cool on the counter overnight. When you are ready, store them in a cool, dry place. Once a jar has been opened it should be kept refrigerated. We eat this all winter long as a side dish with lunch and dinner. It's fresh, healthy and very low in sugar. The kids like it with grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch and roast chicken for dinner.