A couple of friend commented to me that they wished they knew how to make home-made apple sauce. I am currently in the process of making my second batch( 6 quarts)as we speak.I thought this post might be useful to learn a bit more about the process before fall weather finishes ripening all the apples.
I love to home preserve apple sauce.It is a simple easy way to use up extra apples and make something naturally good for you. I am actually over run with apples this year, friends are begging me to pick their apples as the trees are in danger of damage from the heavy load. I use the apples from several trees in our friends and families yards so they are free and of unknown verity. The best apple for sauce if you are buying or growing a tree for that purpose is the Golden Delicious. I Think that I am actually using a Macintosh apples this year and they seem to cook down fine also.
Of course the first step is to collect or buy apples. I pick mine and use about 8 pounds of apples for one full batch (6 quart jars) of sauce. In this case I had a 5 gallon bucket full of apples so I used about 3/4 of a bucket to get what I needed.
I had some wonderful helpers this year and we had a ball picking the apples.
Once you have the fruit,you will need canning jars pints or quarts and rings and lids. These items are available at almost at any grocery store or Wal-mart. It is your choice if you want wide mouth jars or regular. In most cases it is normal to use the smaller mouth jars and lids and rings. Wide mouth jars are great for pickles or food that you would process whole like tomatoes or large slices like pears. In the above photo of the finished apple sauce I have used both Pint and Quart jars and processed them together with out any problems. Wash jars in hot soapy water,checking jars to make sure they are free from any chips or cracks. Either of the stated problems may cause the jar to break or not seal correctly and waste your time and ingredients.
The next few items a person needs are staples in most kitchens, with exception of a jar lifter and food mill and/or ricer and an apple peeling tool. To make 6 quarts of sauce you need to use an 8 quart stock pot stainless steel is ok but most home canning families prefer enamel. It is less reactive with high acid foods like tomatoes and keeps food the proper color. A food funnel, wood spoons, a ladle and a couple of rags and towels. The jar lifter is cheap and makes moving hot jars from a very hot canner to cooling area easier. The food mill I use is a life saver with making any smooth sauce. I use mine for tomato juice, apple sauce, apple butter and tomato sauce. I think the average cost for one today is around 40 dollars.
I did purchase the apple peeling tool a couple of years ago after trying to peel and core about 30 lbs of apples with out it. It is worth investing in one if you hope to make more than 6 quarts of apple sauce. The tool peels, cuts and cores the apples all at the same time so it is a real-time saver and does have replaceable parts in case the blades get dull or broken.
The basic receipt that I fallow is this:
6 quarts of peeled sliced cored apples.
2 and 1/2 quarts water
4 cups sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves.
makes about 6 quarts apple sauce
Always sterilise your jars, lids and rings in a boiling water bath for 6 to 10 minutes before starting applesauce.
The frist step is wash, peel, core and slice the apples. I stack the apples to the top of my stock pot even if some of the apples have some peel still remaining. The food mill will remove any missed skins and seeds later. Add the water and put one stove over Med heat. The hallow apples will cook down into my pot about 4 inches and with the water reach about the 6 to 7 quart area when done.
The Trick to apple sauce is to never ever cook anything on high heat.
Once the water begins to simmer allow the apples to cook at least 20 minuets to reduce the apples into sauce. Sir frequently to help the apples break down and keep them from scorching. As you can see in the above photo they have reduced and some skins are floating in the sauce. The next step removes any remaining skins or lumps from the apples sauce.
Place a kettle or stock pot in sink and top it with a foodmill. Pour hot lumpy sauce into mill and turn handle several times and then reverse the motion until the sauce is through the mill and the dry-looking peels are all that remain. Scrape out old peals and add more lumpy apples and repeat until all the sauce is passed through mill.
Return sauce to stove and add sugar, cinnamon, cloves and heat over med low heat until sugar melts and a slow bubbles form. Taste your apple sauce and add more sugar or spices as needed, raise temp to med high and cook until a slow boil occurs. DO NOT STOP STIRRING SAUCE!!! it may scorch at this point. In my case I look for large hard bubbles that splash sauce around the pot. You can use a candy thermometer to make sure the sauce reaches 212 degrees.
I always sterilise my rings and lids separately from the jars. I like to leave the lids on the stove in the hot water while I make the sauce and put the jars on the counter or table ready to fill before I make the sauce. When the sauce has cooked and is boiling hot you are ready to fill the jars and put on the rings and seals.
As you can see I place the jars on several towels and drain lids and rings just before use. Next ladle sauce into jars using a jar funnel to keep as much sauce off the lip of jar as possible and to prevent burning your hands. The apple sauce is very hot and is sticky and will blister skin in seconds. I wear rubber gloves to fill jars to prevent burns as much as possible. When all jars are full I clean the rim of each jar with a dry rag and place a lid on top and place a ring on tight enough to keep lid in place but too tight.
Then place jars in a boiling water bath for twenty minutes add time if you live above 1000 feet in altitude. If I am processing pints, my stock pot works well, so I wash it and return 6 pints back into the pot cover with hot water and boil the jars 20 more minutes. If I am making quarts I boil water in my pressure canner and use it to process my jars. Next, Remove jars with a jar lifter and place some where it is safe for hot jars to cool away from drafts. I put them back on the towels I used to full them on and wait to hear the sound of the lids popping closed. Some jars may actually seal and pop before they reach the table, others seal as they cool. After about an hour I check to see if all the jars have sealed by touching the top of the lid and pushing down. If the lid pops when I touch it, the jar did not seal and must either be recooked or eaten fresh to prevent food poisoning or mold or both.
If you are lucky like I was every jar sealed and is cooling. I usually wipe the jars down one more time and on the lid with a Sharpe marker put the name and date on each jar. This way the oldest gets eaten first and food rotation is easy.
You now have 6 quarts of home-made apple sauce with no artificial flavors, colors, and no preservatives,congratulations.