Today I wanted to share with you one of our family's most treasured fall projects: making homemade applesauce and canning it. I use applesauce quite a bit in my vegan, gluten-free baking recipes (which I will be sharing more of this fall) so I thought it would be fitting to demonstrate how to make it with step-by-step photos.
You will save a LOT of money by making your own applesauce, especially if you pick all of the apples yourself like we do. Just the other day the kids and I walked around the neighborhood and picked about 70 pounds of apples, Asian pears, and pears! I always find it amazing how much abundance there is and that people are more than willing to share their fruit. Thank goodness for double baby joggers!
In this recipe we will be making homemade apple-plum sauce though any fruit combination works. Think apple-blueberry sauce, or apple-peach sauce, or just plain apple sauce flavored with cinnamon. I don't have any of the fancy canning equipment so I thought it would be fun to show how to make applesauce with your everyday kitchen equipment.
First, take an 8-quart pot and fill it up with cored, chopped apples. Use sweet apples like honeycrisp, rome, fuji, gala, or red delicious. You can leave the skins on. I use about 3/4 apples to 1/4 other fruit. In this recipe I used pitted Italian plums. Place the pot on the stove, uncovered and simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
The above photo was taken at just about an hour of simmering. Make sure you stir the sauce with a long spoon to keep everything cooking evenly. Cook for about 2 hours total or until the fruit is well-cooked and mashes easily. You can add honey or agave to the sauce if desired. Sometimes I add a little lemon juice to help preserve the colors but it is not necessary.
Place a large colander over another pot or bowl (or use a food mill). Pour the sauce in batches into the colander to remove the skins. This is the fun part where the children can really get in there and help. Use a large spoon and stir the sauce to push it through the colander. The skins will remain in the colander.
After the applesauce is though the colander, dump out the skins and pour in more sauce from the pot. Continue to do this until all of the skins are removed. Place pot back on the stove to keep the applesauce warm until your jars are ready to be filled. While this is happening (assuming your child is doing the work) get your jars and lids ready by boiling them in a large pot to sterilize. I boil mine for about 15 minutes.
Place your empty jars (I use wide mouth pint jars) onto a towel on the counter and slowly pour in the sauce leaving about 1/4 inch of space at the top. Wipe the rim of each jar with a thin, damp dishtowel. This is a very important step! If any sauce remains on the rim you won't get a good seal. Then take the lids from the boiling water bath, using tongs, and carefully place onto each jar. Cap and seal.
Place jars into the boiling water bath. I use an 8-quart pot with a pasta strainer basket. Make sure your water is boiling first, before you put the jars in. I can only fit 3 jars at a time. Boil for 15 to 25 minutes, depending on your altitude (see below). Use tongs (I use stainless salad tongs for this) to remove each jar. Place on the counter to cool. Repeat with remaining jars.
Boil your applesauce pint jars for 15 minutes at sea level to 1,000 feet, 20 minutes for 1,000 to 6,000 feet, and above 6,000 feet boil them for 25 minutes.
After about 24 hours, test each lid by pushing your thumb into the middle. If it pops up the lid didn't seal. This rarely happens but it is important to test. If it does you can just use that jar right away and store it in the refrigerator. Label and date your applesauce jars and store in the pantry! Enjoy! :)
If you are interested in learning more about canning I recommend checking out an excellent blog, Food in Jars.
Applesauce can be used in:
Gluten-Free Vegan Peanut Butter Cookies
Gluten-Free Vegan Peanut Butter Cookies