One of my favorite desserts as a kid was my mom’s homemade applesauce – still warm from the stove – along with a piece or two of perfectly buttered toast. Plain old storebought applesauce from a jar would have been the lamest “dessert” ever, but the stuff my mom whipped up on the stove? Perfection.
As the youngest of three, I was fortunate enough to spend some “only child” time with my folks after my brother and sister were out of the house. There were a few falls when my mom and dad and I would head over Stevens Pass, a highway over the Washington Cascades, and admire the autumn leaves – and then, most importantly, stop at Prey’s Fruit Barn where my mom would buy a big old box of apples, then we’d hop back in the car and drive the 2 1/2 hours back home.
Yep, this is pretty much the same trip we took a week and a half ago, except my guy and I stayed the weekend. And we visited Prey’s, and, yeah… I guess you can say that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Prey’s now has a big ol’ box of applesauce mix that they sell. They’re filled with a variety of apples from tart to sweet, like McIntosh, Sansa, Braeburn, Golden Delicious, Winesap, a few Granny Smith… the list goes on. And they even top each box with a handful of Asian pears – something that happened by accident a few years ago, and people loved the addition so much, they requested the pears always be a part of the deal.
Worked for me.
Last week, I made a ton of applesauce. Literally, a ton. Okay, almost. Our kitchen was complete and utter apple mayhem. It was awesome.
Here’s the thing about applesauce recipes, though. The amount of sweetener you put in it depends entirely on the apples. So, rather than a recipe, I’ll share with you my own guidelines for making and canning applesauce… and then if you decide to go for it yourself (and you should!), you can make it your own. My guidelines assume you have a wonderful food mill, so you don’t have to peel and core your apples. Toooootally worth the $30 for one of these.
Making and Canning Homemade Applesauce
Yield: About 3 quarts
- 10 pounds apples, cut into quarters (leave the peel, seeds, and core)
- 5 – 6 lemon peels (just peel them off of a freshly washed lemon with a vegetable peeler)
- 3 – 4 cinnamon sticks
- About a cup and a half of water (about an inch worth)
- Sugar to taste
- Prepare your canning jars – sterilize and prep so you’re ready to can the applesauce when it’s done.
- Wash the apples, then cut them into quarters.
- Place the apples in a large pot, then add the lemon peel and cinnamon sticks. Pour in water – it should be about an inch deep. Cover.
- Over high heat, bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-high, and, keeping the apples covered, cook for about 45 minutes. Stir occasionally.
- Once the apples are completely softened, remove the lemon peel and cinnamon. Now you’re ready to process through the food mill.
- Situate the food mill over a large bowl. 3 – 4 cups at a time, dump the apples into your food mill and crank that sucker. Dump any leftover seeds and peels, and process another 3 – 4 cups at a time, until complete.
- Pour the contents of the bowl back into the large pot. Taste it to see if you need to add any sugar. Sometimes it’s sweet enough to where it’s not needed – sometimes it needs a 1/2 cup to even a couple of cups of sugar. Go easy on the sugar at first, adding 1/4 cup at a time or so, and keep tasting it until you think it’s just right.
- Add to jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space. Process in a boiling water bath for about 15 minutes, depending on your altitude (here are thorough canning instructions here from the Virginia Cooperative Extension).
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