My husband and I grew up in Ohio and moved to Michigan once we were married. Our first few falls as newlyweds, I remember driving around the countryside on weekends. I enjoyed the leaves, their changing colors and their smell. I also enjoyed the refreshment the cool, crisp air brought after a summer of heat (a particular blessing since we lived in an apartment without air conditioning for those four years in Michigan). And, i believe one of our favorite things to do on those drives was to look for cider mills and stop for fresh apple cider and homemade donuts. A year or two later, we added apple picking to our fall schedule and, to this day, still seek out orchards (near and far) every fall to go pick apples.
Well, after 10 years of picking apples and finding ways to put them to good use, I am excited to share a few of my favorite quick, easy, and healthy apple recipes.
Around here a quart applesauce costs $2 or so. Better quality applesauce will cost more; lower quality less. Meanwhile, the best price on apples (here) is about $1 per pound. This recipe calls for about 5 pounds of apples and makes about 3 quarts of applesauce. So, each quart jar of homemade applesauce using this recipe costs about $1.67. So, in terms of money alone, you aren’t saving very much. However, there is no added sugar, unnatural flavors, dyes or preservatives in this recipe, so you will have that peace of mind…as well as the deliciousness of something homemade!
21-25 apples (roughly 5 pounds), washed, cored and quartered (NOT peeled)
3 cups water
optional, for flavored applesauce, add 3 peaches OR 2 cups berries
3 quart size glass jars OR 6 pint size glass jars WITH lids
(or freezer safe containers of the same capacity)
2 large pots
Note: Follow the steps labeled “a” to freeze your applesauce. Follow the steps labeled “b” to preserve/can your applesauce. If the step does not have an “a” or “b” designation, it apples to BOTH freezing and canning.
1a. If you are freezing your applesauce, wash and dry your freezer safe containers.
1b. If you are canning your applesauce, sterilize 2 quart size glass jars and a funnel. Fill the jars with water and LOOSELY place the lids on top. Place them into a water bath (that is, a saucepan filled half full of water). Heat over high to a boil. Alternatively, you can wash the glass jars in a VERY HOT cycle through your dishwasher, but you will use the hot water bath for preserving later, so it will save you some time to do it this way. In any case, this step kills any germs on your glass before you add your applesauce to the jars.
2. Meanwhile, wash your apples, then core and quarter them BUT DO NOT PEEL them.
Place 7-8 apples and 1 cup of water in a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Repeat two times until you’ve processed all 21-25 apples and 3 cups of water.
3. Then, place the apple puree in one of your large pots and heat over medium heat until the applesauce begins to boil. Reduce the heat to low and allow the applesauce to simmer for 10-20 minutes to kill off any germs that may be present.
4a. If you are freezing your applesauce, ladle the hot applesauce into freezer safe containers. Be sure to fill the containers 2/3-3/4 full (because the applesauce will expand as it freezes). Allow the applesauce to cool. Then, place the lids on the containers and freeze.
4b. Because fruits are considered “high acid” foods in the canning world, you can preserve applesauce by canning it in a water bath as follows. Carefully remove a sterilized jar from the water bath, place a sterilized funnel in the top, and ladle the boiling applesauce into the jar, filling it up until it’s 1/2″ from the top.
Tap the jar on the counter to remove any air bubbles. Wipe any applesauce that may have spilled onto the rim or threads of the jar.
Place the sterilized lid on the jar and tighten the band over the top of the lid. Repeat this step with the remaining jars and lids until you’ve used up all of your applesauce.
Can the applesauce by placing the prepared jars in a water bath filled with boiling water.
Be sure that the water COVERS the top of the jars by 1″. Allow the jars to “process” (or sit) in the water bath for 20 minutes.
Carefully, remove the jars from the boiling water bath.
I turn the jars up-side down because the heat from the applesauce helps create a vacuum while its cooling down which assists the jars as they seal. It’s not necessary to invert the jars, but I believe that it helps them seal better. So, far this fall, I’ve canned 35 quarts of applesauce, 10 quarts of pear juice/sauce, and 10 quarts of salsa/jalepenos/pickles and, in all those batches, only ONE jar has failed to seal.
Allow the jars to cool, undisturbed for 12-24 hours. After 24 hours, check the jars to see if they have sealed. If the jars have sealed properly, the lids should not flex up and down when pressed. If the lid cannot be lifted off with your fingers, it has a good seal. Label and store in a cool, dry, dark place for one year for optimal results. Jars can be stored longer than one year, but changes can occur that affect the flavor, color, texture, and nutritional value of the preserve. If the lids have not sealed within 24 hours, the jars can be reprocessed immediately OR refrigerated for use within a week. No, go ENJOY your fresh applesauce!