Now that cool weather has arrived, it’s time to work on apples. Local orchards have bushels of fruit begging for my attention. I put up applesauce every year: it stores well, can be used in lots of ways, and is surprisingly easy.
I like to use a variety of sweet and tart apples in my sauce, and to use the peels and all: it makes a deeper, fuller, more appley flavor. Most recently I used a bushel of several varieties of locally grown apples: Winesap, Mutsu, Cortland, Spy, Empire, and Jonathan. The process, whether you have a huge basket or just an apple or two, is the same: cook the apples until soft, then mash or squish them. I find that the applesauce is quite sweet enough on its own, but if you must, add sweetener.
For planning purposes, figure that a bushel (42-48 pounds) will produce 14-15 quarts canned, and naturally a half-bushel half that much, and one peck (a quarter of a bushel) which is 10-14 pounds, will yield about 3 quarts, or 6-7 pint jars.
You can certainly use a slow cooker if you’d prefer. Use much less apple cider or juice, and simply cook the apples on low until they’re all mushy.
When the apples are tender, put them through a food mill, which will remove seeds and skins. You can use a manual food mill, but for a large quantity, I used the fruit strainer attachment to my Kitchen Aid mixer – what a workhorse that is! Great results in record time.
Applesauce for One
If you have only a few apples, and don’t mind pale sauce – peel them, chunk them, and put them with a little bit of cider in a microwave-safe dish. Cook until the apples are soft, then mash with a fork.
- 1 peck apples (10-14 pounds)
- ½ cup apple cider or juice
- Wash the apples. Put ½ to 1 cup apple cider or juice in the bottom of a big pot, and turn on the heat. Remove apple stems and cut the fruit in quarters, or eighths if the apples are very large. Put the cut apples right into the pot as you go.
- Cook gently until all the apples are soft. Stir occasionally, and don’t let the apples scorch on the bottom! You can certainly use a slow cooker if you’d prefer. Use much less apple cider or juice, and just cook the apples on low until they are all mushy.
- When the apples are tender, put them through a food mill, which will remove seeds and skins. If you have one, use the fruit strainer attachment to a KitchenAid mixer; it gives great results.
- Can in a waterbath (or steam canner): Prepare jars as usual – I generally choose wide-mouth pints. Put hot applesauce into prepared jars, leaving ½ inch headspace. Can in a boiling water bath or steam canner 20 minutes for quarts, 15 minutes for pints. Let cool and label.