This weekend found me trying to channel my inner-housewife and can homemade applesauce. I found out that canning is wicked stressful. I now understand the 1950’s woman’s dependence on barbiturates.
What helped most was thinking of Nanny (yup, we like to talk about her a lot ’round here!) Nanny did not ascribe to the mama’s little helpers way of thinking. She did swear in the kitchen. She did not spill. She did not give her family botulism. She was the Grace Kelly of canning, the Katherine Hepburn of homemaking. I tried to channel her grace under pressure while making the applesauce she made so frequently, and only swore a couple times.
And the effort was f*!?ing worth it! While I haven’t yet won my Oscar (I hold out hope) I can imagine that the satisfactory “pop!” of a jar sealing is a similar feeling of accomplishment. I have never been so proud of my darned self than when I heard that lovely sound and knew that my two hours (on a Friday night y’all! Loser alert!) and destroyed kitchen meant something.When my husband first did his incredibly romantic gesture of bringing me home Pink Lady apples from eastern Washington (yup, he knows just how to get me goin’- bulk fruits) I knew I wanted to use these apples for my maiden experiment with solo canning.
I’ve canned under supervision before, when my aunt and gram helped me can the gazillions of lemon cucumbers that my garden produced this year. Solo canning still had me all a twitter though, and my fragile nerves were not helped by the hubby yelling into the kitchen every ten minutes, “did you remember to add the botulism yet?”
As a kid I remember being fascinated that at Nanny’s house, applesauce didn’t come from a plastic container with a tree on the logo- it came from her kitchen! I saw her make it fresh from small diced apples cooked up quickly in the microwave, or on the stovetop in one of her heavy three-corner pots. She didn’t add a lot of sugar or cinnamon, she kept it simple: simple goodness.
Keep reading below for the recipe
Simple Goodness Applesauce
(makes 5 quarts, which is the maximum that fit in my hot water bath canner at one time)
What you will need:
- 50-60 medium sized apples (5 quarts equals 20 cups, and about 3 cooked down apples make 1 cup of applesauce, so I used about 60 apples. My apples were a combo of Pink Ladies and the mystery variety that grown in Venise’s front yard)
- cinnamon to taste
- granulated white sugar, to taste
- water bath canner
- 5 quart jars, seals, rings
How to do it:
Peel, cut, and dice all apples.
Peeling is optional- some people elect to leave the peels on when making applesauce because the peels create pretty, vibrant colors when cooked. I chose to peel mine, but did so roughly, leaving some small areas of peel.
From here you have a few choices for cooking down the apples. I cooked my apples a few days before canning them, and did so in 2 ways because I wanted to experiment with the different results.
Half of my apples were cooked down in a heavy stock pan on the stove over medium heat, with lots of stirring and patience- this takes about an hour for one pot. Once they were cooked well (taste them- they shouldn’t have any crunch now) I used my wooden spoon to roughly mash them. I was going for a chunky home-style applesauce, not like the smooth processed stuff in stores.
The other half I put in my crockpot with 1 cup of sugar and a 1/2 cup of water on low for 8 hours. This was certainly easier and the apples cooked well but I found I had cooked apples and then a lot of juice, and they were separated. I mashed the apples to try to incorporate the juice and that worked fairly well. Still, this method produced much more juice and a less cohesive result.
I ended up combining both bathes when I reheated the applesauce on the stove for canning.
When canning my applesauce I relied on this handy home canning guide (lots of handy pictures about the canning process, but the sheer volume of information bordered on overwhelming. ) I also liked this lady’s nice and simple guide.