Canning 101: Applesauce

Lets see, we’ve done jellies and jams, lets move onto other forms of fruit preservation today with a little bit of applesauce.

We aren’t huge applesauce eaters in this house.  Every now and then I wish I had some on hand for cooking with (you know you can replace oil with applesauce in most baked recipes for a much healthier and just as moist end product?!) or for a small snack for Inara, but usually I buy a small jar, use a quarter to half of it, then it sits in the fridge and becomes a science experiment in the various colors of mold.  However, we do love fresh apples – the problem is we never seem to be able to eat them when I buy them.  As a result I had about 3 pounds of apples out of 5 pounds that were quickly becoming too soft to be yummy.  SO I decided to try my hand at homemade applesauce.  I’ve read over and over again how easy it can be to make etc. but I’ve never done it.

I decided to go with pure nothing added applesauce since I wanted to be able to cook with it.  I also decided not to bother preventing browning during cooking.  As a result my applesauce looks a bit off, but I really didn’t care.  Here’s what I did, and ways you can change it to your liking:

1) peel, core, and cut apples into thin pieces or small chunks.  I then put them in my crock-pot with about a half cup of water & apple juice (I had leftovers from when I bought it to make apple jelly).  Cover cook on low for several hours.  (Sorry, I don’t have a picture of any of this).  It seemed to take forever for the apples to cook down and I was afraid it wasn’t going to work, then all of a sudden they went from slices to sauce in no time at all.

If you wanted to, you could easily add sugar, cinnamon, or other flavors to your apples to make sweetened flavored applesauce.  Also, you could add a bit of lemon juice, some crushed up vitamin c tablet, or the fruit color saver they sell by the canning supplies if you wanted to prevent browning of your sauce.  As I already said, I did none of this lol.

2) When you have apple sauce in your crock-pot cook it down to your desired consistency, or you can use a potato masher, stick blender or food mill to achieve your desired texture.  I chose to leave mine in a somewhat chunky texture – it seemed more homemade to me.

3) Get your canning supplies ready, warm your jars, lids, and bands.

 

4) fill your jars leaving 1/4 to 1/2 inch of head space.  I discovered after canning that I wish I’d put a bit more liquid into the applesauce.  We haven’t opened our first jar yet, but from just looking at them I can tell they will be thick.  You could use more liquid when you’re cooking the apples in the crock-pot, or you could leave more head space in your jars (1/2 inch to 1 inch) and add some hot water or apple juice to the jars at this point up to the recommended head space to provide more liquid in your sauce.

      

5) wipe the rim of your jar to remove any applesauce then put a warm lid from your pot onto your jar.

    

6) finger tighten a screw band onto the jar

  

7) I chose to do some 4oz sized jars in this batch as snack sized jars for lunches etc.  You fill them the same way leaving the same head space.  If you were ONLY making smaller jars you could process them for a shorter amount of time, but if you, like me, make a mixed batch you have to process the longer time for the larger jars.  The longer processing time won’t hurt your smaller jars, but they will lose more liquid that way, so be sure to have plenty of fluids in your little jars.  **A note about shorter processing times in general.  Any processing time that is less than 10 minutes will not sterilize your food/jars, so it is not enough to simply warm your jars, they MUST be sterilized either with boiling water for 10-15 minutes, or in your dishwasher on a sterilize cycle.

  

8) place the jars back into the canner, make sure all jars are covered with at least 2 inches of water, put your lid on (make sure not to seal a pressure canner, just put the lid on all the way), bring to a boil, and process for 10 minutes.  If you were doing large (quart or larger) sized jars I would do 15 minutes, or maybe even 20 if you’re doing really big jars.

      

 

9) After your processing time, remove the canner from heat, take off the lid and let the jars just sit for five minutes.  Then remove them from the canner and place on a soft towel in an out-of-the-way place.

10) Let your jars sit, undisturbed, for 12-24 hours, checking your seals after 1 hour.  Any jar that hasn’t sealed after an hour can either be reprocessed or put in the fridge for quick consumption.

11) If you have hard water deposits, clean the jars with a bit of diluted vinegar solution on a damp cloth.  Inspect rings and remove any damaged/rusted rings before storage (optionally, you can remove all lids, they are unnecessary during the storage period) then label your jars and store them to enjoy at your leisure.

   

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