One of my absolute favorite family traditions each autumn is apple picking. Each year is unique because we never visit the same orchard twice. We also don’t go to the larger touristy farms, but specifically seek out the smaller family – run orchards. It always makes for great family memories!
I like to get A LOT of apples and a large variety of them. From itty bitty tart ones to oversized super-sweet varieties; we eat them all. They can keep for several months in the fridge so none of the abundance is ever wasted. I do like putting them to good use as well. One of the easiest ways that surely pleases my children is with homemade applesauce! I’ve tried multiple recipes over the years doing multiple different methods, but I was never completely satisfied with the outcome. Eventually I came up with my own way that tastes best to us and seems easiest.
First, you need a HUGE amount of apples. As my son has a rather large head, I had him sit there for reference! I like to grab the largest ones because they are the easiest to peel. I use a variety of apples, but you can do as many or as few different kinds as you would like. The apples cook down immensely, so be prepared for this. I used approximately 10 lbs of apples for this recipe. You can scale down or up accordingly.
While easy, this part can be time-consuming. I like to set up my own mini production line. Yes, that is a WI cutting board.
Next, begin the task of peeling. I use a regular ol’ vegetable peeler. If you have a fancy apple peeler, certainly use that! If you’ve read my previous blogs you know I can’t stand waste! To me, this is a whole lot of it! I save my peels and cores to make Apple Scrap Jelly (when I write that blog, I’ll insert the link here). The scraps save just fine for a couple weeks in a bowl in the fridge covered with plastic wrap.
Next, you cut. I just slice the apples, but again, if you have a fancy apple slicer/corer use it by all means! Your slices should be between a half-inch to one inch thick.
Eventually your workstation will look like this!
The only additives to my applesauce are:
- 2 cups water – to start the boiling process
- 1/3 cup lemon juice – as a natural preservative
- 1 TBSP cinnamon – for flavor!
You can take out the cinnamon and leave it plain. Or you can add nutmeg, ginger, cardamom, or even allspice!
Set your pot on high heat and toss your apples in the water, lemon juice, and spices. Cover and cook 20-30 minutes to allow the apples to break down. Your house is going to smell amazing!
After cooking, pull the pot off of the heat. Proceed to mash your apples. I don’t mind small chunks in my applesauce so I just use a potato masher. If you find the idea of chunks abhorrent, feel free to use a blender or food processor to make your applesauce super smooth. I suggest letting the mixture cool first so not to burn yourself if you take this route.
Once the applesauce has been sauced, you can take either stop there or proceed to can it. If you will eat your applesauce within the next month, it will store in the fridge in a Tupperware or glass jar. If you want to store it for the long-term, by all means continue reading!
Remember hot food likes a hot jar. I’ve taken to disinfecting my jars in the dishwasher so they are hot and ready when you pull them out. Always boil your lids to disinfect them and get the adhesive warmed up. I recommend a funnel. My super janky one was born of necessity… I didn’t have a funnel but I had a wealth of Tupperware and a knife. Don’t judge.
Ladle your applesauce into your jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Wipe rim of any residue; I find paper towel works best. Put on your lid and screw rings until fingertip tight.
Submerge your jars in your boiling water bath canner. Remember that the water should cover at least an inch above the tallest jar and more is always better. Cover your pot and process for 20 minutes.
Remove jars from water bath and allow to cool completely. I recommend 24 hours so you can double check that the safety seal doesn’t pop back up. If for some reason the safety seal pops, you can put that jar in the fridge and eat within the month.
As you can see, 10 pounds of apples yielded 1 pint and 2 quarts of applesauce – I told you it cooks down a lot! Enjoy!