Monday, October 8, 2012

Canning Applesauce: Step 2

As promised, I've got the rest of the applesauce production right here for ya! So far I've made about 8-9 jars of applesauce and there doesn't seem to be any end in sight (I've still got another batch in my backpack!) Anyway, once you finish picking the apples, what you need to do next is peel the apples and core them. Now, I don't have any photos of this step because I enlisted the help of a friend, a couple knives and a bottle of wine to complete this portion and we spent an entire afternoon peeling about a million little teeny apples!

Once you have that portion all done (and you saved the peels of the apples to make this apple jelly), what you need to do next is put your apples in a pot with a tiny amount of water, maybe a cup or two, and bring the mixture to a boil. The apples are going to produce water as they heat up so you don't need to fill the whole pot with water.
While your apples are heating up, you'll want to sterilize your jars, rings and lids. To do this, you can bring your canner with a small amount of water to a boil and let the water vapors sterilize your jars. If you have a dishwasher, you can sterilize your jars by washing them that way (just make sure to fill your dishwasher first! You don't need to run a partial load to make applesauce.... that's counterproductive!).
Obviously this funnel is way too big but you're going to need a funnel to pour the apple mix into your jars. That needs to be sterilized too. Basically anything that will touch the applesauce needs to be sterilized or all your hours of hard work will cause botchalism and you won't be able to eat your treasure without causing severe bodily harm...
Since I'm making applesauce the eco-friendly way, I used a huge pot and a couple extra rings at the bottom of my pot in order to can my applesauce. You need to keep your jars off of the bottom of the pot so that the applesauce doesn't burn or the jars don't burst or the house collapses because the universe is mad that you didn't pay attention to proper canning technique!

Now fill up your canner/pot that has a fairly thick bottom and an airtight lid with water, enough so that when you place the jars in the water, it covers the tops by about an inch or two. It's kind of a guessing game at this point so what I did is heat up a teapot full of water at the same time so that if I needed to add any water, it was already boiling.

In case you haven't been keeping an eye on your applesauce this whole time, make sure and take the lid off  your applesauce and check it. Stir it a couple of times to keep the bottom from burning to the pan. You will know your applesauce is ready when you can stir your apples with a spoon and they immediately start to mash up and turn into heaven. There might be a few stubborn apple slices that you can just mash with the side of a wooden spoon, but otherwise you are done with that step.
You're not quite to this point yet but it's a little reminder of your future triumphs at making and preserving your own food. Once your applesauce is cooked and mashed to your liking, fill each jar carefully with the aid of a funnel or just ladeling with a spoon. Either way, you'll probably get some applesauce on the edge. Just wipe that off with a clean cloth towel or rag. Place your sterilized lid on top of the jar and screw the ring in place, being careful not to screw on too tightly or you might cause a natural disaster of epic proportions...

But wait, didn't you just bring your canner to a rolling boil and now it is unsafe to gently place your lidded applesauce in the canner? Well, they make these fancy things called canning tongs or jar lifters that look like this. To make your canning experience a little more sustainable, you can look for a used pair at a thrift store. I didn't find any when I went to look but the kitchen I used had a nice new pair that worked fine. I'm going to keep hunting around for a used pair of my own!

Anyway, the last step in creating your applesauce is to place the jars full of mash with the lids properly in place in the canner full of boiling water using your jar lifter. If the water is covering all the jars by at least an inch or two, replace the lid on the canner and boil the jars at a rolling boil for about 10 minutes. Remove your jars with the aforementioned jar lifter and make sure the jars have been sealed properly. If the jars make a satisfying little pop sound, that means the jar has been sealed. You can also check by carefully unscrewing the ring around the top of the jar and gently pulling on the seal to make sure it is stuck to the jar. If not, you can return your unsealed jar to the canner and boil it for a few more minutes. Leave your sealed jars in a draft-free location until they cool off and then store in a dark pantry or cabinet! Opened applesauce should last for about 2 weeks, but if it lasts that long, maybe there is something wrong with you! I would love to hear about your canning adventures this season!

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