Applesauce is one of my favorite home-canned yummies. It’s very easy. It’s wonderfully delicious. It’s so healthy because you control the amount of sugar. It does take some time but the results are SO worth it.
Before we get started, there are two rules that must be followed: 1) Safety first, and 2) Follow the guidelines in the Ball Canning Book. The way grandma canned food may not qualify as food safety by today’s scientifically tested methods.
Here are the tools you will need before you get started.
Now for the fruit. I have found that using a variety of apples yields a very flavorful sauce. I used to use only Gravenstein or Granny Smith. But with the tart apples more sugar needs to be added. So I recommend using a variety of sweet and tart. And try using a variety of colors too. One year my applesauce turned out pink. It was neat!
I usually buy about 20 pounds of apples but you are by no means obligated to do this. If you want a few pints in your cupboard, go for 10-12 pounds. This box yielded about 10 quarts with some remaining for eating.
Now let’s get started.
Step #1: Wash your jars and rings in hot soapy water. You can wash the jars in the dishwasher but hand wash the rings or they might rust during the dishwasher’s drying cycle.
Step #2: Fill your canner about 2/3 full of water. Place it on the stove with the rack inside. Cover with the lid and start heating the water (med-high heat).
Step #3: Place jars, rings and lids in the hot water bath to sanitize them. If you are using quart jars you might only be able to fit three or four. The others can be added while the first few are being filled.
Step #4: Cut up your apples. Now, here is the great part of this process. You DO NOT need to peel, core and slice these babies. Just cut them into large chunks; skins, seeds, core, stems and all. The food mill will separate them later. Neat, huh? Plus the vitamins that are in the skins will end up in your sauces. Mmmm….
Step #5: Using a tall stock pot, add about one inch of water along with your chopped apples. Cover and heat on medium-high heat. The water is there to keep the apples from sticking until they release their own water. Be sure to stir frequently so that the apples cook down evenly.
Step #6: When the apples are mushy, place your food mill over another large pot or a bowl. In small batches, add cooked apples to the food mill and stir them down until all that is left is some skins and seeds. Kids like to help with this part. Warning: the apples are very hot!
Step #7: Once your sauce is made, keep it warm on the stove. Add sugar to taste. For seven quarts I only added 2/3 of a cup to the entire batch. So start with small amounts. I like my sauce a little on the tart side. I can always add more sugar later when I want to eat some; but I never do.
***Step #7 1/2: This would be a good time to enjoy the fruits of your labor (pun intended). Serve yourself a small cup of warm applesauce. Your eyes will roll back in your head. It’s thick and fresh and warm and not-too-sweet.***
Step 8: Now it’s time to fill those hot jars. I remove the jars one at a time with tongs and set them on a towel near my pot of sauce. I then remove the rings to let them cool a bit. I do not remove the lids until I am ready to place them on the cleaned, filled jar.
Step #9: Set your funnel on a jar and ladle the sauce, filling it and leaving about 1/2# headspace. Then, using a non-metal spatula, remove the air bubbles by inserting it straight down into the sauce along the sides of the jar.
Step #10: Use a clean damp cloth and wipe the rim of each jar to remove any sauce. (If there is debris on the rim, the lid may not seal) Twist the ring over the lid. NOTE: THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT – Do not overtighten the ring. Finger-tip tight only. If the ring is over-tightened, the air cannot escape from the jar during processing and the lid may not seal.
Step #11: Now it’s time to give those jars a nice hot bath. Using the jar lifter, gently place the jars in the rack of your canner. Make sure that the water covers the tops of the jars. Place the lid on top and bring canner to a boil. When the water starts to boil start your timer. The water needs to stay at a rolling boil, not a vigorous one. Process your jars for 20 minutes (both pints and quarts).
Step #12: When 20 minutes is up, turn off the heat, remove the canning lid carefully (tip the lid away from you so that you don’t get a facial of hot steam). Using your jar lifter, carefully lift the jars straight up and place on a towel. Do not tip the jar or sauce might escape and the lid won’t seal.
You might be tempted at this point to check the lids by touching them. DON’T!! Be patient and let them sit for 12+ hours. Most likely the jars will let you know they are sealing when you hear the pop. It’s music to your ears. By the next day you can poke those lids with your finger to make sure they have sealed. If the lid pops up and down, it has not sealed. Don’t despair. Remove the ring and lid. Clean the rim with a damp cloth. Add a new lid (after boiling in hot water), twist on ring (finger-tip tight) and process in your canner again. Chances are it will seal this time.
Good luck and happy canning!