I have one apple tree in my orchard that is grafted with four different varieties of apples, and its production rate is amazing – which is a good thing, because I’ve learned that it takes an incredible amount of apples to make any appreciable amount of applesauce. Yesterday my mom and I spent almost three hours peeling, chopping, preparing, and hot bath canning, for a grand total of only eight quart jars of applesauce. I’d probably have to do this a dozen times more just to put away enough applesauce to last us until this time next year!
Because I grow the apples organically and don’t use any sprays, they aren’t picture-perfect, but most of the flaws are just on the surface, and they’re crispy and delicious. I had the girls pick whatever they could reach off of the tree, and pick up everything that had dropped on the ground that wasn’t rotten already. Here’s one of the several buckets we processed yesterday:
We peeled the apples, then quartered and cored them, and cut the quarters into smaller pieces so that they would cook quicker.
We used the largest pots we could find, put approx 1 inch of water on the bottom, and then cooked the apples until they were soft. Our big problem was that, no matter how much we stirred, we kept burning the apples on the bottom – I think that our pot bottoms are just too thin, and we got too impatient and turned the heat up (because it took forever for the apples to cook soft enough!) My advice would be to cook more slowly, on lower heat, but this takes a long time and you have to stir continuously.
When they seemed at least a little soft, I removed the pot from the heat and used my immersion blender until the sauce was the consistency I wanted – I like chunky applesauce, so I didn’t feel a need to blend out every last apple chunk.
Then we added cinnamon and sugar to taste – there’s no way to specify a particular amount because it just depends on how much sauce is in the pot, what varieties of apples you’re using, and what taste you like. I didn’t add more than a cup of sugar, even to a pot completely full with applesauce, and I was pretty liberal with the cinnamon, because my apples tasted relatively bland.
Once the cinnamon and sugar were mixed in, we transferred the applesauce to quart jars and put them in the hot bath canner for 20 minutes.