I have been waiting for this day for quite some time now…it’s applesauce day!
Well, technically yesterday was applesauce day. I had been accumulating apples throughout the week. First from my Nana and Pap’s apple trees, and then from the farmers’ market. My Nana and Pap’s trees produced apples like crazy this year! Which is funny, because last year they had a bumper crop of pears, and not as many apples. This year, they didn’t get any pears, but they have more apples than they know what to do with! Funny how nature works!
I began with about a bushel of apples. I do not know for sure, I’m just estimating. I know I bought a half bushel from K. Schlegel Fruit Farm at the farmers’ market. (I also got 6 yellow jackets in my bag for free!) And then I had four grocery bags of apples from my grandparents. So, I’m going to say that’s about a bushel.
As for the variety of apples I used, I do not really know. I am not certain what types of trees my grandparents have, and the crate I purchased just said “mixed.” (So if any apple experts out there want to comment and tell me some of the apples I used by looking at the pictures above, go for it!) I wanted a large variety of apples to balance the sweet and tart, and prevent me from having to add sugar to the applesauce. If you want to be more specific with your apple selection, either do some research on the internet or ask orchard employees. The stand where I purchased my apples had signs out describing each type of apple, which is super helpful!
Applesauce is one of the easier things to can, in my opinion. It takes a while to do, depending on how many apples you have, but the process is not difficult, and there is no complicated recipe to stick to.
There are a few different ways to prepare and cook the apples. Some people prefer to core and peel their apples before cooking. Once the apples are soft, they can be run through a food mill or just mashed lightly for a chunky applesauce.
I prefer to leave the skins on while cooking the apples. Just be sure that the apples are washed well if you do this! No one wants pesticides or bug poop in their applesauce!
The apples get cored and then chopped into bite-sized pieces. I heated them over medium-low heat until they were softened. I stirred them often, and only used one of my stove burners. One burner is great for boiling things because it heats up very quickly, but that also means foods like apples and tomatoes burn to the bottom just as quickly! The apples will look like chunky applesauce when they are ready to be run through the food mill (which can be quite the workout).
One of the most fascinating things about the whole process is the different colors of sauce the apples produce! I had a few pot-fulls of very yellow sauce, and a few of pink sauce! When I mixed everything together, it kept a little bit of its pink hue, which I think screams homemade applesauce!
After the apples are all cooked down and run through the food mill, it is time to can the sauce! Leaving one inch of headspace, the jars can be processed in a water bath canner for 20 minutes. (For canning procedures, check out this post.) I was reading a Ball canning recipe for applesauce, and they recommend adding a few cups of sugar and lemon juice. While some applesauce does need a little sugar to sweeten it, that can be eliminated by careful choice of apple varieties. And as for the lemon juice, that is up to you. I have never added any kind of acidity to applesauce before canning it. If this concerns you, applesauce is just as easy to freeze.
I canned all of my applesauce in quart jars (13 to be exact) because that is what we had the most of and it gets done quicker. If you can the sauce in half pints, that makes an easy, healthy treat to simply grab off of the shelf and put in your lunchbox!
Applesauce is such a warm, cozy fall treat to make! I am glad I have my shelves restocked for the rest of the year!
Did you make applesauce this fall? What are your favorite types of apples to use? Do you leave the skins on or peel them? Do you prefer chunky or smooth applesauce? Feel free to comment, I’d love your input!