The interesting thing is that our tree has a cycle of producing every-other-year. Last year we had about 4 apples on the entire tree. This year the tree was so laden with apples that the branches were laying on the ground...a very good problem to have. Many people stopped and asked if we were going to do anything with the apples...I think the for-sale sign made people think we weren't planning to use them; but, trust us, we were! (Of course, we told the people who asked that they were welcome to help themselves...there was PLENTY to go around!) Even with sharing, we still picked around 5 buckets full, plus the hundreds that the kids ate straight from the tree!
The first year we had apples I made apple pies like a crazy-person; even prepping apples and freezing them to make apple pies in the winter! That was a fine way to use them, but, unfortunately, only The Spouse likes apple pie! This year I decided to make something that more of my crew likes...Apple Sauce! I did some researching around on the Internet and also tried to remember what I'd seen my Mom do....she used to make no-sugar-added-applesauce for my kids when they were babies...always helping me save money. Love her!
The link I most often referred to can be found here. It's from Pick Your Own.Org and it has a lot of great info, as well as awesome answers to a lot of FAQ (many of the same questions I had!)
I did NOT have many of the supplies they suggested, however, so I thought it might be helpful to share how I made applesauce using just what I had on hand...I'm willing to bet there are lots of people like me out there. :)
So, here you go:
Apples...I just used the ones off of the tree; which are quite tart.
2 large pots (1 for cooking apples. 1 for holding processed apples)
1 super-large pot (for boiling water and putting the jars into to seal them)
Sugar to taste (because of the tartness I used around 1.5 cups per pot...The Spouse kept tasting until we found the right amount)
Cinnamon to taste
Jars with lids
Wire cooling racks
Sterilize your jars...you can do that in the dishwasher if you have a 'sterilize' setting or you can clean them and then boil them in a pot of water. Keep them in the dishwasher or in the pot until you actually use them to minimize exposure/germs.
Wash your apples
Put the apples into a pot with a little bit of water in the bottom. Cover the pot and turn the burner on "high". Let the apples cook until they are soft and mushy...it took about 8 minutes. Watch to make sure you have enough water to cook the apples. While I was waiting I cut the next group of apples for the next batch.
Use your slotted spoon to scoop the cooked apples into your blender...you want to leave as much of the water behind as you can. I kept using the same water for each batch; it got appley goo in it and I felt like I wasn't wasting that way!
Blend your apples to your desired consistency...because the peelings are still in there, you might want to blend longer than normal.
Pour your blended apple into the 2nd large pot.
I did not have enough at that point to fill my pot, so I did another batch.
Add the sugar and cinnamon to the mixture, making sure to stir it completely. This is where you need some extra clean spoons so you can taste test your mixture. I liked it plain, so I canned some jars that way. The Spouse liked it plenty sweet, so we did some that way too.
Using your ladle, put the applesauce into your jars.
Leave about a 1/4" of space.
Put the lid and ring on your jars.
Put the closed jars in your Super Large Pot of boiling water. For pint jars you want to let them boil for 15 minutes; quarts for 20.
Use your tongs and oven mitt to take them out. I found that if I lifted them out with the tongs and set them on the cutting board that was right next to the pot, I didn't have to worry so much about the hold the tongs had. Once they were out, I used my oven mitt to pick up the jars and place them on the wire cooling racks.
Let the jars cool. In the cooling process, they will seal themselves; you'll be able to hear them "pop" when they do and you'll see that the center of the jar is pulled down. I finished this project right before bed and got several starts while I was falling asleep as the jars "popped"!
Unscrew the outer ring of the jar to let the water that is trapped dry. If you don't do this it will rust, which would be a bummer. I let mine dry and then put them back on; I've read that you could leave them off, but I figured why have to remember where I stuck the rings?! I'll just keep everything together until I use the applesauce and THEN put the jars and rings back into the box they came in.
Happy Applesauce Season!
My little helper who woke up in the middle of the night to cook with me. :)