More often than not, I’ll make homemade applesauce just for one meal–let’s say to go with a roast pork. In the late summer and early fall when apples are abundant, it’s a great time to experiment with mixing apple varieties and flavors in the world of applesauce.
Last year, I had so many apples that I decided it was time to learn to preserve applesauce. I’ll just say that it was one of the smartest things I have ever done. We ate from our jars of applesauce all year and my daughter and I would often polish off a whole pint by ourselves. My recipe and applesauce canning technique is below, but you might also want to read our Preserve It introduction to canning basics. (Follow all the Preserve It! stories by clicking here.)
What apples should you use for applesauce? The New Jersey Department of Agriculture says there are 30 varieties of apples grown here and has this list of the main varieties and how best to use them. It also has a database of where to find them and when they are ready for harvest. If you don’t feel like waiting until late fall to start preserving applesauce, there are some early varieties of apples at Allstede Farms. One of them, Redfrees, is mentioned as ideal for making applesauce.
If you have never made your own applesauce, here is a simple recipe.
- 20 apples of any variety (feel free to use more if you don’t mind working two pots at once)
- 2-3 sticks of cinnamon (optional)
- Dutch oven or large pot
- Food mill- this is what turns the mushed apples into applesauce.
- Slice apples in half (leaving skins on and cores in)
- Place in dutch oven or large pot.
- Add a very small amount of water (about 1/8-1/4 cup)
- Add cinnamon sticks.
- Cover and cook over moderately low heat for 1-2 hours stirring occasionally to make sure all pieces are mushed and mashed.
- Working in batches of a few large spoonfuls at a time, add mushed apples to the base of the food mill. Slowly turn handle. No need to worry about seeds, stems or skins. They will be removed once you get most of the sauce out of each batch.
- Once it seems you have gotten as much as you can out of your first batch, discard solids from the bowl of the food mill and repeat the process. This is the tedious part of making applesauce, but it’s worth it. The fresh cinnamon gives wonderful flavor and the skins of the apples give each batch its own unique color.
- Wash and sterilize your jars, lids and bands. The dishwasher does a great job on the jars. Boil lids and bands in a small pot of water. Keep them all hot. You will want your jars hot as the applesauce will be very hot when it goes in.
- Fill your canning pot about 3/4 full with water and bring it to boiling.
- Once all of your applesauce is made, it will need to be boiled for 10 minutes to kill any bacteria. Stir it to avoid burning.
- Pour applesauce into hot jars. I found the 1/2 pint or pint sized wide mouth jars work well. Anything else is either to small (jelly jars) or too large (quart jars). Kitchen Aid makes wide mouth funnels specifically made for canning.
- Once your jars are filled, wipe the tops of the jars clean and add the lids and bands.
- Place in canner and process in boiling water for 20 minutes.
- Remove and set jars aside to cool.
Photo by Maggie Hoffman via Flickr.