The gardening and preserving of food has mostly ceased for which I am grateful. I enjoy canning and freezing vegetables and fruit, but I am always ready for the season to end. Life is busy with homeschooling the children, so I do not have as much time to put into other pursuits. That being said, I had put off canning applesauce until the other food was preserved. My husband’s parents were visiting last week, and I thought it might be a good project to do with my mother-in-law. We picked up two bushels of gala pee-wee apples from the local orchard. I have made applesauce with many different varieties of apples, usually whatever is free or inexpensive. This year the galas were available for $12 a bushel. They were beautiful, but small apples.
In the morning, while I home schooled the children, my mother-in-law graciously offered to get started cutting up the apples. She ended up slicing the entire two bushels and a bit, for which I was very grateful.
Here is the process we used. Quarter and remove the core of the apples. In two large kettles, put just enough water to cover the bottom and keep the apples from sticking. Fill up the kettles with apples. Cover with a lid. Bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, lower the temperature and allow to simmer until apples are soft. Stir occasionally. Apples will form their own juice. Once the apples are soft, I run them through my food mill. The skins are removed, and the applesauce runs into a pan placed under the slide. I send the skins through the mill again and get a little extra sauce. Empty the pan of sauce into a large dishpan. After several batches, fill quart jars, allowing head space. Wipe off jar rims, add a flat, and tighten ring. Place in a boiling water bath canner. Bring to a boil and can for 20 minutes. Remove jars, and allow to cool before removing rings.
Some people add sugar or honey to their applesauce. A number of years ago, when I heard a friend say she did not add sugar to her sauce, I gave it a try. We have never looked back. I find if you wait until later in the season and choose a sweet variety, you do not need any sweetener. It saves money and is healthier for you. A few varieties I have tried include golden delicious, honey crisp, Macintosh, and a mixture of apples.
I have fond childhood memories of applesauce making with my mother. I would turn the crank of the food mill and watch the sweet sauce pour out of the mill and into a pan. My own children have followed suit and all take a turn with the crank. This year, our daughter went a step further and filled the jars, which was a big help.
For lunch and supper, we enjoyed fresh warm applesauce for dessert. Delicious! By the end of the afternoon, we had 27 quarts of applesauce ready to shelve for later use. Not bad for a days work!