Monday, October 17, 2011

Applesauce '11

I was a spoiled kid.

I mean, yes, I got a lot of "stuff" (being an only child and the youngest grandchild), but I also never tasted store-bought applesauce until I was an adult.

It was a sad day.

Nana wasn't the greatest cook, but baking and homemade goodies were her specialty. Someday I'd like to be half as successful in the kitchen as she was.

I am bound and determined to give my kids a little bit of what I grew up with - complete with homemade applesauce every fall. And winter. And spring. Sometimes summer, if we're lucky.

First, we do something I never did, which was pick the apples off the trees. Well, we were a little late this year, so the apples were pretty high. Hubby manned the picker pole and the kids fetched the apples and put them into the bucket.

I like this system, mostly because I just get to supervise. I did check for soft and brown spots since it was later in the season, but even a few questionable ones managed to sneak through. They don't have to be pretty to become applesauce.

After we got more apples than seemed wise, we headed home. In past years, we've let the kids watch and eat the peels, but we opted for the "wait until they're asleep" sprint this year. Too many monkey-like tendencies, in my opinion.

So here's how we started.

A mix of Jonathons and Cortlands. Probably worked out to be 50/50 on each batch, so a nice combination of tart and sweet.

Here's the set up...

Hubby mans the peeler-corer-slicer, mostly because I get frustrated trying to line everything up and the suction on the bottom doesn't hold it to the counter any more. He ends up cranking with one hand and holding the dang thing down with the other. I take off the bottoms and the tops and quarter each one to make it cook faster and then man the pots.

I only own one huge pot, which I need for the hot water bath (on right), so I use two large pots for actually cooking the apples down. 

One pot held a bag of apples. I forgot to take a picture. I was trying to quarter and check all the apples Hubby was peeling and dump them into the pots and put a little water in and stir and stir and be sticky from my fingertips to my elbows. I didn't want to stickify my phone.

Take my word for it, I couldn't have fit any more apples into the pots if I tried.

Here is one (of five) pots after cooking down.

Next came my new favorite part of the process... two words for you: immersion blender! I had one on my Christmas list after attempting to use a potato masher on waaay too many pots of apples last year. OW. The stick blender was so cool! Stir and whir and voila!

Doesn't that look yummy? I combined the two pots I was cooking simultaneously and seasoned with a little sugar. "Little" being about a cup for a 8 qt. pot-full. But it all depends on your apples and personal preference.

There. That's better.

So into the sterilized jars they went to hang out in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes. Then they lined my counters while I finished the remaining batches. I love the popping sound the lids make when they seal.

The finished product:

A total of 34 jars of homemade applesauce. Only one didn't seal, so the kids and I happily polished that one off today. The rest are in the pantry keeping our 30+ jars of pickles company.

It's gonna be a yummy winter. 

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