Thursday, September 17, 2015

Homemade Applesauce

One of my favorite side dishes is applesauce. It's perfect with everything from roasted meats to lunchmeat sandwiches. Making and preserving a big batch in the fall means I always have quick side dish ready throughout the year.

The best sauce is made using several variety of apples. I often refer to an apple usage chart before heading to the orchard. I like to include Golden Delicious and Rome and toss in a third variety based on what's available and the advice of my grower.

I can and freeze the sauce, depending on time and freezer space (we usually get a side of pork in the fall, and I need room in the freezer for holiday cookies). It's one of the few foods that is equally delicious fresh, frozen or canned.

Depending on the flavor of the apples, I'll add a bit of sugar or honey for sweetness and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Feel free to season as you like - purists can leave out sugar and spices entirely. Using a food mill eliminates the need to peel the apples (and saves a lot of time). The mill removes seeds and peels, and produces a smooth sauce. However, if you prefer a chunky sauce, you'll want to forgo the mill, peel the apples and after cooking, mash the apples slightly with a potato masher.

We have a consistently underperforming apple tree. Glad for our local orchards! 

Wash apples and place in a stockpot with water. I don't
peel as the food mill will separate the peel from pulp.

As apples cook, stir frequently to prevent sticking. 

While apples cook, prepare jars. Wash jars, lids and rings in hot soapy
water. No need to sterilize jars if process time is 10 or more minutes.
Ball lids no longer require heat treatment (simmered in boiling
water). Just wash and place on jars.

Several varieties of food mills are available. I use the KitchenAid attachment (left)
which makes really quick work of fruits and vegetables. However, the old
school hand mill on the right works perfectly and is less expensive. 

Cooked apples are added to the top. An auger forces the fruit through the mill.
Sauce comes out bottom into the glass bowl and skin/seeds come out the
tiny opening to the right and fall into the  stainless steel bowl.
The process is very efficient with little waste.

Finished sauce should round up on a metal spoon.

Fill jars, wipe rims and adjust lids.

Let jars cool on the counter 12 hours before storing. 

Adapted from the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving
Yield: about 6 pints

8-10 lbs apples
1 to 1 1/2 cups water
1-2 cups sugar
Cinnamon or nutmeg to taste, optional

Wash apples. Peel if desired and quarter. Combine apples and water in a large stockpot. Cook over medium heat until soft, stirring to prevent sticking. Remove from heat and pass mixture through a food mill. Return pulp to stockpot. Add sugar and spices, if desired. Bring applesauce to a boil.

Ladle hot applesauce into jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles, wipe jar rim and adjust lids. Lower jars into simmering water, making sure water covers jars by at least 1 inch. Begin timing when water boils. Process pints or quarts 20 minutes. Turn off fire, remove canner lid and let jars cool 5 minutes before removing from canner. Cool jars 12 hours, remove rings, wipe jars and store. Consume within one year.

To freeze: After passing apples through food mill, add seasonings, if desired. Do not reheat. Place sauce in freezer containers and place in freezer. Consume within one year.

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