Preserving the Harvest: Applesauce, a fall favorite to last all year

Posted by on November 5, 2014 in Blog, Preserving the Harvest, Recipes

Preserving the Harvest is a regular guest column by Lauren Gross

Making applesauce

An immersion blender works well to create smooth applesauce, but you can also use a food processor, blender or Foley mill. At right, after washing the apples and removing stems and leaves, cut them into quarters and remove the seeds and cores. (Lauren Gross photos)

This was the weekend the clocks fell back, which makes it well and truly autumn. One of my favorite things to make in the fall is applesauce. Living in Central Pennsylvania, we are blessed with an abundance of orchards, many of which grow apples.

I like to use local orchards and apple seconds — fruit that is slightly imperfect but still perfectly usable for canning. By buying local, you ensure you’re getting fruit picked at the peak of freshness. This year, I bought seconds at Brown’s Orchards in Loganville, but almost all orchards I know sell seconds, so if you have a favorite orchard, ask them about fruit seconds.

When making applesauce, the key is variety. You want a variety of apples (I used Golden Delicious, Fuji and Cameo) to make a complex, rich sauce. Pick sweet apples — Granny Smiths, while delicious in pies, are not good for sauce.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 pecks apples, different varieties
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup apple cider (or water)
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (if desired)

Yield: 11 pints

PREP & PROCESS

Making applesauce

After washing the apples and removing stems and leaves, cut them into quarters and remove the seeds and cores. (Lauren Gross photo)

Put water in the canner and bring to a boil, sterilize your canning jars and put lids in to simmer. While waiting for your water to boil, prep your apples. Wash them well in cold water, twist off stems and remove leaves.

Cut apples in quarters, remove seeds and cores, cut into chunks, and put in heavy-bottomed, deep stockpot. Add apple cider (or water), lemon juice, spices and sugar. Cover and cook on high 25 to 35 minutes, or until apples are soft, stirring occasionally so apples don’t stick to the sides and burn.

Remove apples from heat. Now comes the making-into-sauce part. You have to smooth them out in some way. I used an immersion blender, but you could also run them through a food processor, a blender or a Foley mill. Once the apples have reached the consistency you want, ladle the sauce into jars, leaving about 1/2-inch headroom.

Put lids on, screw bands on finger-tight and put in canner (which should be boiling). Process for 15 minutes, remove from water and put on a stable surface to cool.

Listen for the lids to pop, or flex-test when they’re cool. Label and store for up to one year.

NOTES

•I used locally made Honeycrisp cider because we happened to have some in the fridge that needed using. Water would work just as well, although if I have to add a liquid, I prefer using a fruit juice because I think it improves the flavor.

•I do not peel the apples. If you’re going to use a Foley mill, you might want to peel them first or else you’ll be pulling the skins out of the mill. Since many nutrients are in the skin, and since peeling apples takes a lot longer than I’m willing to commit to, I just don’t peel them. But you can. Also, if you leave the skins on, your applesauce will have a faintly pink color, which is pretty.

•The amount of cinnamon might seem small, but cinnamon’s flavor will intensify the longer it sits.

— Lauren Gross, a York transplant, has long been fascinated by the science of cooking. Her column, Preserving the Harvest, runs seasonally in The York Dispatch food section.