Apple Sauce isn’t all that hard to make. I did this batch without the food processor, and so it took a little longer to cook down. You can chop it with your food processor and make much smaller chunks that cook down quicker, but I just cut the chunks up as I was getting the apples peeled.
So without further ado… here we go!
I have yellow apples… probably a Granny Smith, but if not it is that type of apple that my grandma planted about 40 years ago. I have already washed the apples with anti-bacterial hand soap and rinsed them well, and they are in one big bowl. I have one bowl for bad spots and yuck, another bowl for the good peels without blemishes… will explain in a minute, my two knives, a bowl for the good cut up pieces and a bucket on the floor beside me to dump the small waste bowl into.
I save the good apple peels and good cores to make jelly out of. I put them all in a big pot, and completely cover them with about 2 inches over the top of what is in the pot. Then I simmer them for three or four hours. You want to watch them and occasionally stir them so they don’t burn or scorch. This makes apple juice. I strain the heavy stuff out and put the juice in containers in the refrigerator for a few days. This gives the sediment the chance to settle, and when I make the jelly, I am careful to pour the juice so as not to stir up the stuff at the bottom. You could use that too, but it would make your jelly cloudy, and I think it looks prettier when it is clear.
I am using a big butcher knife to cut the meat off the apple core. I make 4 slices, so I have a square core when I am finished.
I am using a smaller knife to cut the blemishes off of the apple pieces.
I am cutting the apple quarters into smaller chunks and I have put all the small chunks into my big pot. I probably have 12 pounds of apple in the pot. I have added a couple of cups of water to the apples and dumped 4 or 5 cups of sugar in. I will have to continually stir this or it will burn on the bottom, and I watch it as I am stirring. Once the sugar melts, it will give you some additional liquid, but you still may have to add more water a little at a time as you go along. Apple sauce shouldn’t be real thick, so if you are having a hard time stirring it, add a bit of water and keep going, but do the water additions a little at a time, so you don’t end up with soup instead of apple sauce.
The apples are starting to get softer, but you have a good way to go yet. It takes about 30-45 minutes for them to cook down, and you have to be stirring the whole time. Usually, I give the bottom a good stir every 30 seconds, and this seems to work okay. If you have to go do something quick, just pull them off the heat till you get back. Never leave them unattended!
They are starting to get kinda mushy, and there is some foam on the top of the apples. Still have to cook more.
Almost where I want them to be. I make my apple sauce a little chunky, but it is mostly mush. You have to decide just how chunky you want it to be, and there is no right or wrong. You just have to experiment.
Now when I make the apple sauce for my pop, I don’t use anything but apples and water, and that has a tendency to really want to burn on the bottom, so I have to be constantly stirring that… none of that every 30 seconds kind of stirring. He is diabetic, so he can’t have the sugar. He sweetens it with Trivia when he eats it, as well as, doctoring it up with some cinnamon. I don’t put the cinnamon in mine or his, because sometimes I want to use the apple sauce meatloaf, or something else I might want to cook that wouldn’t taste right with the cinnamon in it. I like to just make it plain and then season it as I am using it, but you don’t have to do it that way. If you are going to put spices in, do it in the last 5 minutes or so of the cooking time.
I am starting to fill my jars. I use the method in the Ball Blue Book of Preserving. You wash your jars and sterilize them. I put my washed jars in the oven on 225 ° while I am getting ready. In a separate frying pan, I have hot water (not boiling – the setting is on about 3), and in that pan I have my jar lids. You have to have your lids in hot water for a minimum of ten minutes before you put them on the jars. This softens the rubber gasket in the lids to make the seal process easier.
I take one jar at a time out of the oven and fill it to within ½ inch of the top. Actually, it is a little less than ½ inch from the top, cause when I go that high, it tends to run over or boil out a little. I probably have mine closer to 3/4 of an inch from the top.
After the jar is filled, you take a wooden stick… I use a chopstick… and get all the air bubbles out of the contents by stirring it around a little. Next, with a clean, damp rag, wipe off the top of the jar where the lid is going to be placed. Get your magnetic stick, pick up one of your jar lids, place it on the top of the jar and add the ring that screws down onto the jar that will hold the lid in place. Set this jar on a pot holder, and go on to the next jar till you have them all filled.
I have seven quarts placed on my steamer cooker. Now the Ball Blue Book says to use a water cooker where you submerge the jars, but I can’t put that much weight on the top of my glass stove. I found this cooker, which is used like the water bath cooker, but it uses steam pressure to process the jars, and has a lot less weight than the water bath cooker. It has a couple of inches of water in the bottom, and a rack that sits down into the water. The jars really aren’t touching the water.
Once I have the cooker loaded, I put the tall top on it. You’ll notice in the front of the cooker, you can see a little hole. There is another hole on the opposite side just like this one, and that is where the steam vents from. To use this cooker, I turn the heat up to high and put the top on. You wait until you have an 8 inch steady stream of steam coming out of the holes to start your timer. This has built up pressure inside the cooker. Once you get your 8 inches of steam constantly venting, you start your timer, and let them cook like that for 20 minutes regardless of whether you are canning pints or quarts.
After 20 minutes, I slide the steamer off the heat and let it cool for about 5 minutes before slowly lifting the top a little at a time, so as not to have a sudden rush of cold air hit the hot jars.
A couple of times I have ended up with 8 quarts, so I had to run the cooker a second time for the odd jar. It worked fine.
One odd thing about this cooker. It has circles on the bottom that are made to mesh with the raised burners… I don’t have raised burners, so not enough of the heat was getting to the pan to cause it to heat properly. It isn’t perfect, but it works now which just goes to prove there is a way around every problem!
A super variant on ‘normal’ applesauce is to use red cinnamon hearts instead of sugar. (Make sure to use some lemon juice in the water whilst preparing the apples to keep them from turning brown.) The applesauce comes out a pretty pink color with amazing taste.
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