I don’t think I ever had store-bought applesauce until junior high when my dad would buy us mini applesauce cups for lunch and I always wondered why it never tasted that great. It’s probably because as a child, every year I would watch my mom transform the small apples from the tree in their backyard into delicious applesauce. As I grew older, I began to help more – my favourite task was putting the stewed apples through the Foley Food Mill and then scraping the pressed skins, seeds and stems out. (For some reason, I always found that part to be extremely satisfying.)
Mr. Bean’s parents have an apple tree in their yard that seems to produce a great bounty of apples every year. Understandably, they are quite keen to get rid of some apples, so I offered to take some and make and can some applesauce.
Despite watching and helping my mom each year, canning always seemed to be such a daunting task – sterilizing the jars and lids, putting the right amount of sauce in the jars, immersing it in the water bath and hoping desperately that they will seal. After talking on the phone with my mom and referring to the Joy of Cooking a few times, I discovered a few tips that helps make things easier. (Of course, if you want to skip all this, freezing applesauce works just as well!)
- I used wide mouth mason jars with matching lids, but you’re welcome to use any size of jar you want.
- Sterilize jars in 2″ of boiling water. I used way more and it took forever for the pot to come up to a boil and the jars flipped over, which makes it difficult to remove them from the rack.
- Use new lids if possible to ensure that the jars have a higher probability of sealing. It’s super frustrating to try to seal a jar over and over – usually after 2 -3 tries, it’s probably not going to seal.
- Make sure to leave 1 1/2″ – 2″ of space above the applesauce and leave the rings slightly loose to allow enough air to leave to seal the jars. If the rings are too loose, the lids will pop off when you immerse the jars, which means applesauce in your water bath. (Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything as it totally didn’t happen to me when I tried making applesauce last year. Of course not!)
- Don’t add too much water to the apples when you begin stewing them as it’s much less time consuming to add water to make the sauce thinner instead of trying to boil it down to make it thicker. (Again, I have never done that, especially not when I made applesauce yesterday.)
- In my family’s opinion, using more tart apples results in a tastier applesauce.
If you want more information on canning/making applesauce, here are a few great links:
- Canning Basics for Preserving Food
- How to Make Homemade Applesauce
- Crockpot Applesauce from Amy at Simply Sugar and Gluten Free
Making applesauce doesn’t have to take forever – I made 12 jars from start to finish in just over 3 hours and that included various conversations with my brother, a 45 minute attempt to reduce the volume as I add too much water initially and dishes. Obviously, if you make more, it will take a bit longer to seal every jar. It’s definitely worth the time as it tastes so much better than any applesauce you will find at the store. This recipe requires a food mill – you could peel and cut the apples beforehand, but that’s too much work and I think that the skins, stems and cores add so much flavour.
It’s important to prepare the jars properly. First, rinse off the jars and the rings. Heat up 2″ of water in the large pot you’re going to use as a water bath. Place jars open side down on rack, place in boiling pot and leave there for 10 minutes to sterilize. Remove from the pot and place open side down on a clean dishtowel on a counter top or table. Leave there until you’re ready to use them.
To sterilize the lids, place lids alternating face up and face down (to prevent the rubber from sticking to other lids) in a small sauce pan and cover with water. Bring up to a boil and let boil for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the lids in the pot until ready to place them on filled jars.
- Wash the apples, remove any spots and chop into halves, quarters or eights depending on the size of the apple. Don’t worry about removing the stems or cores as the food mill will take care of that.
- Put cut apples into a large pot with an inch or two of water in the bottom.
- Bring the pot up to a boil, stirring moderately frequently.
- Once the pot comes up to the boil, turn it down to medium heat and stew until the apples are falling apart.
- Remove the pot from the heat and place the foley food mill (or whatever you are using) over another large pot.
- Scoop the apple stew into the food mill and process. Periodically scrape out the skins, stems and seeds once the flesh has been removed.
- Once all the applesauce has been process, return pot to heat and bring up to a boil.
- Once boiling, turn down the heat and add sugar until the desired sweetness. Adjust consistency either by reducing or adding more water. Remove from heat.
- Use a measuring cup, fill the sterilized jars leaving 1 1/2″ – 2″ of space. Place a sterilized lid on each jar and use rings to screw shut. Loosen slightly to allow air to leave so it can seal in the water bath.
- Meanwhile, bring the water bath to a boil. Turn off. This will help prevent the jars from cracking.
- Place the filled jars on the rack and lower them slowly into the hot water. Set the timer to 10 minutes, turn the heat back on and let the water bath boil.
- When the 10 minutes is over, slowly remove the jar filled rack from the water bath and use tongs to place jars onto a towel covered table or countered top. They should seal (usually with a pop) within a few minutes. You can usually tell if they are sealed if they are concave and you cannot press the lid up and down. If the jar doesn’t seal, try immersing it again for another 5 minutes. If it still refuses to seal, try a new lid or just eat it.
- Repeat steps 11 and 12 until all the jars are sealed.
- Let them cool to room temperature, label and store in a cool dark place.
Have you ever tried to make applesauce?