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How To Can Applesauce

My kids have never been big applesauce eaters.  Even when they were young, applesauce was never a favorite snack.  (I can't say I blame them, store-bought applesauce doesn't taste very good.)

So when, a few years back, my friend's mother gave us a few jars of home-canned applesauce I was surprised when my kids actually ate it.  And loved it.  And wanted more.

Using a variety of apples makes a tasty applesauce.

That turned us on to canning our own applesauce.  Besides roasted tomatillo salsa (which is delicious, I'll post a recipe for that one soon) homemade applesauce is one of my must-haves in the pantry.  It makes a nice snack for the kiddos, a yummy topping for pancakes and waffles, and even a quick side dish for busy night dinners.

The first year I made applesauce I canned it all in quart-sized jars, as the recipe I was using suggested.  But I found my family never ate an entire quart.  The leftovers sat in the jar, got pushed to the back of the fridge, and forgotten about until it spoiled.

The next year I used smaller jars, and it made all the difference.  My family will eat one pint-sized jar of applesauce at breakfast with none left over.  The tiny half-pint jars make for perfect single-serving snack sizes.

So, the recipe below makes one canner load of 9 pint jars, or 18 half pint jars (stacked in the canner).  If you'd prefer to make bigger jars of applesauce you'll get about four quarts jars, plus one pint jar, from this recipe.

If you've never canned before, learn a bit about home-canning.  Ball Fresh Preserving website has a great PDF Intro to Canning, and it's a fabulous place to get some of the basics.  But, really, applesauce is a good one to try first for canning newbies.

Home-Canned Applesauce
13 1/2 pounds of apples
1/2 cup water
sugar (brown or white, optional)
cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, or allspice (optional)

You'll also need:
9 pint-sized mason jars (or 18 half-pint mason jars) with lids and rings
large canning pot

Peel, core and chop the apples.  I like using a mixture of different types -- Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Fuji, whatever is a good price.

This is a cool gadget.
It peels, cores and slices the apples all at the same time.
A huge time-saver if you make a lot of applesauce.

Put the chopped apples in a large pot, along with the 1/2 cup water.  Simmer the apples until they're nice and tender.  This can take up to 30 minutes or so.  Make sure you stir them often to keep them from burning.

Take your time cooking down the apples so they don't scorch.

While the apples are cooking, prepare your canning pot, jars and lids.  Fill the canning pot one third full of water and heat to nearly simmering.  Place the jars and the lids in a separate pot with nearly simmering water.   

Once the apples are fully cooked, let them cool just a bit.  For smooth applesauce, run them through a food mill, food processor, or blender.  If you prefer a chunkier applesauce, use a potato masher on the apples until they're the consistency that you want.   

I used a potato masher on this batch, plus a little brown sugar, nutmeg and cardamom.

You can customize your applesauce by adding sugar and spices now.  I usually leave my applesauce unsweetened, but I'll sometimes add an 1/8 cup or so of brown sugar.  Cinnamon is a nice spice to add, but I've also used nutmeg, allspice, cloves, and even cardamom.  Add to your taste.

Bring your applesauce to a low boil again.  Fill your warm jars with the applesauce, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace.  Wipe the rims of the jars with a cloth.  Affix lids and rings on the jars.

Leave 1/2 inch from the applesauce to the top of the jar.

Set the jars into the canner.  The water in the canner should cover your jars by at least 1-2 inches.  Bring water to a boil.  Boil for 20 minutes (this time changes if you're over 1000 feet in altitude, though.  Check the Ball Intro to Canning PDF on how to convert processing times for high altitudes.)

Remove jars from the canner and let set for 24 hours.  Check the lids for good seals -- they shouldn't flex up and down in the middle, and they should be tight on the jar.

One canner load of applesauce, cooling on the counter.

Apples are in season now.  Pick some up at your farmer's market or go apple picking and make some applesauce of your own.

Enjoy your applesauce!

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