Of course, this is just the first week without evening classes and also the last week of school, so I could just be feeling giddy. Anyway, I decided it was time to harvest some of the apples from my lovely apple tree and make applesauce. I love applesauce and I also hate to see things go to waste, even bird-pecked apples. Given that my garden appears to be feeding all of the local wildlife, it is really no surprise that the majority of the apples have a few divots taken out of them, if not large chunks.
The recipe I used was from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving I recently bought, along with some tools to keep me from dropping jars of jam into boiling water and scalding myself. I'll tell you now, the can lifter they have make canning much less frightening than it was when I was using my standard-issue tongs. I'm also glad the whole thing is no longer a two-man operation.
This is the first recipe I have tried out of this book, though I have bookmarked a few others. There are definitely some odd ones (the page opposite applesauce has a recipe for "strawberry smooch," whatever the hell that is), but it seems to have enough good recipes and tips to make it worth the money. Makes a darn tasty applesauce.
Adapted from Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving
Makes about 4 quarts (I got 6, but I think I like a thinner applesauce)
- 12 lbs. apples, peeled (or not, if you're planning on using a food mill like I did), cored, quartered, treated to prevent browning, and drained
- 3 c. granulated sugar (optional) (I wound up using 1 c. to take the edge off, as a few of the apples I picked were still a little green)
- 4 T lemon juice
- cinnamon (optional)
2. In a large saucepan (more like a vat), combine apples with just enough water to keep them from sticking. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring occasionally, for 5-20 minutes, until the apples are tender (time will depend on the variety of apple and their maturity). Remove from heat and let cool slightly, about 5 minutes.
3. Working in batches, transfer apples to a food mill or food processor fitted with a metal blade and puree until smooth. (After all the apples were out of the water, I reserved ~ 4 c. and poured the rest out.)
4. Return apple puree to saucepan. Add sugar, if using, and lemon juice; bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently to prevent sticking (you can also add some of the reserved apple-water to loosen things up). Maintain a gentle boil over low heat while filling jars.
5. Ladle hot applesauce into hot jars, leaving 1/2 in. headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding hot applesauce. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip-tight.
6. Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil and process for 20 minutes. Remove canner lid. Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool, and store.