Homemade applesauce

I’ve been pondering canning. It seems like the ultimate homemaker activity, even above baking bread. Of course, to make the most sense of canning, this accomplished homemaker would ideally have also mastered gardening and would commence canning to preserve her backyard bounty.

I have no backyard bounty. I don’t even have grass in my backyard. It’s not really my fault; it has only rained one day in the last four months. But I digress.

After reading about the actual process of canning, I was concerned that any activity with lots of peelers, knives and huge pots of boiling water might not be good with a toddler around. Then, a couple articles mentioned “freezer canning.” Hey, I have a freezer! But I don’t have anything to actually can. A helpful article suggested analyzing what your family eats the most of and starting there. For us, that would be applesauce and tomato sauce. The former sounded less messy.

At the farmer’s market, we stopped at a local orchard’s stand and picked up about 5 lbs. of their “special” apples for only $5. The ones that are 95% perfect-looking, 100% perfect for applesauce. Just look at the photo above, gorgeous!

While Hannah was at school, I tackled the peeling and chopping. It was tedious but didn’t take too long.

The sliced apples filled my slow cooker about 3/4’s full. I added a small amount of apple juice as cooking liquid and a sprinkle of cinnamon (after taking the picture).

After 5 hours on low, I let it cool then used the immersion blender to get a consistent texture. A couple days ago, I found these official “freezer canning jars” and decided to give them a try. They were a good price, are BPA-free and have twisty lids.

Yes, there is a spoon in the partial jar. That one didn’t make it past dinner. So I have two in the freezer, and we are seriously looking forward to consuming those in the future. Hannah’s comment: “more, more, more.”

According to my calculations, even though I got a great deal on the locally-grown, low spray apples, buying organic applesauce is still cheaper. But this tastes way better. Tough call there.

Do you have any canning experiences to share? Should I attempt the boiling vats and glass jars?

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2 thoughts on “Homemade applesauce

  1. In the past, I indeed did some canning of applesauce and of apple butter. When my kids were small, it would have been impossible to find applesauce that was labeled as “natural”, or lower sugar. I purchased apples from a local orchard and got busy.

    As you point out, canning is really only cost-effective when you grow your own fruit, as the purchase of the fruit makes the process pricey. However, it seemed worth it at the time as I had no alternatives. I kept doing the apple butter long after I abandoned the apple sauce (and I seem to recall Chris Orlando even eating apple butter on Cheerios when I was out of bread). PB and AB was a popular sandwich around here!

    Indeed, I still have the big water bath pot, plenty of jars, a sieve for smooshing the apples, and some other random accessories. However, unless you have “free” fruit and a ton of time and patience to learn the process, I would not advise it as a new hobby. Very labor intensive, lots of boiling water warming up your kitchen, and you have to be extremely careful about every aspect of the actual canning process or you are creating a botulism situation. The best way for a person to learn would be to find someone who cans, and to assist them in the process before deciding to give it a try. I had no Youtube videos, just some pamphlets from the Extension Office and the advice of a friend.

    As you point out, freezing is much less labor intensive. For many years, I made the freezer strawberry jam and it is DELICIOUS. There was/is a low sugar version, and there is a special pectin used for the freezer process. Super yummy. I would buy the “reduced to clear” 4# boxes of strawberries that had a couple of yucky berries, toss those, and use the rest. The jam kept a beautiful color and was delicious on everything.

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