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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Homemade Applesauce, Easier than you Think

September brings the arrival of apple season in the pack houses of your local orchards.  By November, the apples are picked, sorted, and available for purchase at the best seasonal prices. Fall is the time to buy in bulk and make nutritious, homemade applesauce.

The rule of thumb when wondering how much to buy is that it takes between 2.5 -3 pounds of fruit to yield one quart prepared sauce. A peck is 10 - 12 pounds or around 32 apples. It takes 4 pecks to equal 1 bushel.

Next is to decide what types of apples are good for applesauce. 
Tart apples make for excellent applesauce because they allow the adjustment of the sweetness by adding sugar to taste. Baldwin, Rome and Jonathan apples are good all-purpose varieties because they are juicy and mildly tart. Green apples are juicy and tart, and their crispness gives a nice, thick texture to homemade applesauce.

McIntosh, Northern Spy and Cortland are soft apples which cook quickly and easily mash. So as the sauce isn't too mushy or watery, Stayman, a semi-soft apple, is good to add for texture.

 Fuji and Gali apples are two of the best baking varieties you can use for applesauce, due to their perfect combination of firmness, juiciness and sweetness.

Some people just blend a variety of apples, yet others know their types well enough to be more fussy.
Apple types not to use are Red and Golden Delicious and Empire. Red and Golden Delicious are good eating apples but once cooked are too mild, and Empire is too watery.

Before starting the cooking process, the first thing to do with your apples is to wash off any dirt, bacteria, pesticide and waxes. You can either use a vinegar wash or a bleach wash.
For a vinegar wash, add 1/2 cup white or apple cider vinegar to a sink full of water and soak the apples for 15 minutes.
For a diluted bleach wash, add 1 tbsp. bleach per quart of water and soak for 15 minutes.
For either method, drain the sink and rinse the apples with water.


There is no need to peel or remove the cores from your apples. Just cut into quarters or wedges and fill up a soup pot. Add only about an inch of water to get it going since the apples will quickly release their own juices. Cover with a lid, bring to a boil, and turn down to a simmer. Use a large spoon to stir in order to bring the soft, cooked apples to the top and the top layer too the bottom. Pay attention so you don't scorch the apples with too high heat before the juices flow. The apples only need about 20 minutes till soft.


Turn off the heat, remove the pot from the heat, take off the lid and let sit until cool enough to safely handle. Ladling hot apples into the press or mill can be messy and any splashes can result in a burn.


The press pictured here is called an Italian Tomato Press or Mill (there are other types available)and can be used to mash up any cooked fruit or vegetable. I use it mainly for making applesauce and pumpkin puree.


Once the apples have cooled off a bit, you are ready to make your sauce. Add one bowl to catch the pulp and another bowl to catch the sauce. Use a ladle to spoon into the chute. Turn the crank and watch how nifty this gadget is at separating the sauce from the skin, core and seeds. Once done, add any sweetener and/or cinnamon if you desire.



If you plan on freezing your sauce, divide into smaller containers and freeze.
If you plan to hot water bath using mason jars, bring the sauce back to the boiling point, stir to avoid sticking to the bottom of the pot. Use a funnel to carefully ladle the sauce into your quart or pint jars, leaving 1/2 inch head space. Wipe the rims clean, remove any air bubbles by pushing a wooden spoon handle down around the edges of the jar, and place your lids. Add the jars to your canner, (racks hold seven jars), add water to cover jars by one inch above the top. Bring to a boil and process pints for 15 minutes and quarts for 20 minutes. Remove the jars from the water and place on a rack to cool. You will know they sealed by listening for the pop in the lid.

Enjoy your homemade goodness!