When I was little, my Grammy would send us large mason jars of homemade applesauce around what I think were the holidays? You know, the homemade gifts made with love in typical Grandmotherly form. One of the best kind of gifts because well, it’s edible. As a kid, I would eat this applesauce by the jar (or maybe by the gallon) because first of all, it was delicious. Second of all, I quite obviously have a history of poor self control when it comes to food I like— my dad once had to talk to me about my milk intake because I was drinking so much of it when I was younger. Oops.
No matter how juvenile and/or geriatric applesauce may be, it gets a thumbs up in my book. Hell, it gets TWO thumbs up! Take those thumbs up with a grain of salt, though; I am currently writing this post in a new set of Zebra Print Microfleece Pajamas from my bed on Christmas Day. Thank you baby Jesus.
To channel my sassy inner-Grammy, I decided what better way to celebrate Christmas than by attempting to make and can applesauce [alone, for the first time ever with little knowledge in canning/preserving foods, and then gifting said foods to innocent, unsuspecting family members and roommates]?
It sounds like the mildest, most honest labor of love there ever was!
..…or so I thought.
Okay, before I make this sound like a nightmare, it wasn’t. This applesauce is incredibly simple to make but the labor is far from mild. This was a 4-5 hour ordeal, but I went through with it and made it because labor and Christmas and love and all that nice stuff. I think people typically team up to make stuff like this. Or maybe that’s just how I’m visualizing it should go now that I’m on the other side. Like, an army of people in the kitchen… peeling, canning, cooking, peeling, peeling, stirring, pureeing, peeling and did I mention peeling?
I found this simple recipe and was thrilled to see that it was indeed simple. This recipe lies though. The webpage clearly states the prep time is 15 minutes. 15 minutes to core and peel 6 POUNDS of apples? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? DO YOU HAVE AN ARMY PEELING AND CORING THESE APPLES FOR YOU? ARE YOU THE SUPER[WO]MAN OF APPLE PEELING? ARE YOU USING A MACHINE? DID YOU GO TO COLLEGE AND MAJOR IN SPEED APPLE PEELING?
It took me 15 minutes to peel 4-5 apples, and you’re talking about peeling 6 pounds worth? Yeah right.
I guess this would be an appropriate time to share that I also doubled the recipe. That’s right, 12 pounds of apples. TWELVE LUBS. Also, I don’t own an apple coring device which now that I think about it, is really dumb.
On the upside, I did set up camp at my kitchen table, played music the whole time and had a nice system going… not to mention the Baileys and hot chocolate I indulged in. However, that did not make the process go any faster, it merely eased the pain. I swear, 3/4 of the way through, I thought I was getting carpel tunnel in my hand. I don’t even know if that’s possible but I was getting it. My high level of unnecessary meticulousness is likely to blame for this. Arthritis, something! I’m actually 83. Uphills both ways.
(Disclaimer: My hand has fully healed since then. It actually did pretty much immediately after the peeling process ended.)
Let’s cover the ingredients here and then I’ll talk about other neat things and fun stuff…
- APPLES: I doubled the recipe because I wanted to fill about 8 pint sized mason jars. 12 pounds filled 9. Conveniently, grocery stores sell 3 lb bags of apples so you can grab 4 of what ever variety apple a peels to you. Sorry, dad joke.
- LEMON: The acidity is necessary. Grab 2. Juice them. Just need the juice. I cut them in half and stab a fork, squeeze and twist. It works wonderfully if you don’t have one of those not-so-fancy lemon juicer things. And like I’ve said in a post before, it makes you feel incredibly strong and powerful.
- APPLE JUICE: 2 cups of apple juice or apple cider. What ever suits your snazzy self.
- BROWN SUGAR: 1 cup packed. That’s all. You actually don’t even have to sweeten with brown sugar. I considered sweetening with maple syrup for a half-second, but I decided to save that possibility for next time.
- CINNAMON: 1-2 tsp. Again, not 100% necessary. However, if you like cinnamon, add it. It instantly turns applesauce into appleboss. UGH, DAD JOKE AGAIN.
- MASON JARS: I love mason jars. They start perfectly as food storage and then turn into amazing liquid beverage holders. I bought Pint sized ones at the grocery store. I couldn’t find smaller. I bought 12, I used 9. The dozen is about $10.
It’s also helpful if you have a knife, cutting board, garbage, large bowl, large pot, an oven and a food processor/blender. It’s even MORE helpful if you have a water bath canning pot. I don’t. Not that dedicated/senile yet. I’ll get there some day. Until then, I will risk the possibility of shorter shelf-life due to poor canning skillz.
Here’s a quick step by step…
- Prep apples in large pot with lemon juice, apple juice, cinnamon and brown sugar.
- Cook apples in large pot over medium heat. SIDE NOTE: My very favorite thing about this recipe is cooking down the apples. I can’t even begin to tell you how divine my apartment smelled during and after this process… like fall and winter got together and made a sweet cinnamon apple baby. If you’re trying to cover up some stank, I recommend making apple sauce. That recommendation does not mean make a double batch. Make a half batch of the original recipe if you want enough for a few servings– then you don’t have to can it and it still smells like heaven. I don’t even know what I’m saying anymore…
- While you’re cooking the apples, sterilize the lidless jars in the oven at 250 degrees for 10 minutes then remove.
- Once the apples have cooked for 20 minutes (or when they look pretty), remove them from heat and blend/puree them and put sauce in a bowl.
- Fill sterilized jars all the way to 1/2″ from the top… basically to the shoulder of the jar. Once they’re filled, wipe off any spillage on the rim of the jars and then add lids and rings tightly.
- Place them in the oven for 20 minutes at 250 degrees with a pan of water underneath. (This is how I did it. Apparently this is not the safest form of canning food so if you plan to make this recipe and preserve your food, a pressure canner is a recommended investment.)
- Let them cool down– you’ll hear the lids make pop noises which I guess means they’re sealed….? Once they’ve cooled enough, check the lids to make sure they’re all sealed. If a few aren’t, remove the lid, wipe down the jar and try step 6 again. I lucked out and none of mine had to be redone soooo yeah. Yay.
I don’t know about this whole canning thing. I walked into it incredibly blind to the fact that there may be a “FDA Approved” canning process or what have you. I suppose my suggestion would be don’t make a large batch that will require a long shelf life unless you know what you’re doing. You can always make a small batch and simply refrigerate and eat.
These jars have made the greatest gifts. Just tied a little bow around them, added a tag and there you have it! A Christmas Miracle nearly as miraculous as this new blog post!
I opened a jar last night to give it a taste and it turned out delicious. The apples I went with were a bit tart and full of flavor, which actually worked perfectly with the cinnamon. Complimentary and all that jazz. One more extra credit point for applesauce: it is rather versatile. Check out the site I found the recipe on and read the suggestions she has for different items to make involving a-sauce. In addition to the suggestions on that site, my nephew took liberty in testing it out as hair gel. Worked surprisingly well…
Merry Christmas to you, you fabulous reader. You made it to the end of this post and for that, I commend you, thank you, and appreciate your sense of humor and love (or like, or distaste, whatever) for amateur opinions on food. Enjoy this immature Christmas fart video: