Monday, October 27, 2008

When You Get Free Apples, Make Applesauce

I didn't get much of a fruit crop this year. Just about every time something else came into bloom last Spring, we'd get another freeze. That happens more often than not, but about every three to four years we squeak by and end up with bumper crops of everything. Just not this year for my trees. However, I do know of a big old apple tree, over in the part of town built in the 1860's, on the lawn of a lawyer's office. It had a beautiful bunch of apples this year, and no one ever seems to want them. So, just before the hard freeze, Aries and I took the ladder over and picked a bushel box full (free is good - and I did take a bucketful into the office to share too).

I went through and separated out any that had blemishes - to eat now and to make a batch of applesauce (and a pie too - Aries does love apple pie). I don't know what kind of apples they are (no one else does, either), so I don't know if they'll keep very well, but I put the really nice ones down in the cellar and will keep an eye on them. If they do store well, I might try rooting a cutting (oh, I'll probably try it anyway - I don't know if it's the micro-climate where it's growing or if it is just perfectly adapted to the area, but it did set a nice crop when my trees didn't). The apples look a bit like Jonathans.

Applesauce is probably the easiest thing there is to make and can. All you need is a paring knife, a pot to cook them in, and a potato masher (apple juice, jars, and boiling water bath optional). I sat down in front of the TV to watch a movie, cut the apples into quarters, cored and peeled them and put the chunks into a pot of water with some lemon juice added. When I was ready to cook them, I drained out the water and added apple juice to cover the bottom of the pot maybe an inch. I think cooking them with juice instead of water makes for a better end product. I use a flame-tamer under the pot, and cook them with the lid on until soft. It's more steaming than boiling them. In the meantime, I get my boiling water bath heating up, sterilizing jars and rings (half-pints fit our needs best). When the apples are soft, I just mash them up with the potato masher, fill the jars to ¼", seal, and process 10 minutes after the water starts to boil again.

13 comments:

Joie at Canned Laughter said...

I'm very envious. No apples in Texas, just tasteless imports. They look a lot like Johnny Macs. Oooh, my mouth is watering! Can't look any longer!

Kathi D said...

My apples were pretty disappointing. The deer and birds got to the best ones before I did.

Cathy said...

Hello Sadge
Could this be frozen rather than bottled
Take care
Cathy

Nancy M. said...

That doesn't sound too hard. Wish I had some apples to try it with.

Sadge said...

Hi Cathy - I don't see why not, if you have the freezer space. Either use a straight-sided jar, leaving room for expansion; or do like I do for squash puree, and put 2 cups into a pint freezer bag (or 4:quart), press all air out and seal tight, then lay them down flat on a cookie sheet until frozen. Then I stand the packets up in old shoeboxes in the freezer.

Anna said...

Could they be Gravensteins? We get them here on the other side of the mountains. They are very sweet, almost fall apart in your mouth when ripe, and were in season through october.

Sadge said...

Hi Anna - I don't think they're Gravensteins. My mother-in-law grew up near Petaluma, around Gravensteins and one of the last things she gave me was a tree for my orchard. Mine ripen mid-August here, but these apples were just now ripe mid-October. They're crisp/tart, like a Fuji. You're right about Gravensteins being melt-in-your-mouth sweet.

Lisa-Michigan said...

I freeze my homemade applesauce and it doesn't taste any different than when it's freshly made. I use plastic freezer containers that have been used over and over for several years. Applesauce is one of the easiest things to make.

PrudentHomemaker said...

I know who can identify your apples--he does it for a living. (well, he'll probably do it for free; he sells apple tress for a good part of his living). Here's his website: http://www.kuffelcreek.com/apples.htm

Thank you for the applesauce tips; I'll be making some today and tomorrow.

JoAnna said...

Hi Sadge,
I have no access to free apples but I bought a half bushel (about 20#) for $20 at the local produce stand - they are Colorado grown Johnathans I believe. I'm up to my eyeballs - I've made caramel apple jam & plan to make canned apple pie filling - may try a small amount of applesauce for the freezer since I'm the only one that eats it!

Kathi D said...

I am going nuts with my new dehydrator. I bought it for my tomato crop, but now I am buying apples and anything else that you can dry. I love the home-dried apples. It is amazing how small a big bag of apples becomes once dried. Good space saving!

Sadge said...

I was going to respond to Joanna that drying the apples would be a good option, and Kathi beat me to it! Try sprinkling the apple slices with a bit of cinnamon sugar before drying - even more addicting! Dried apples are easily reconstituted for use in pies and baked goods, with a fraction of the storage space needed.

Kathi D said...

Mmmmmmmmmm cinnamon sugar! Thank you for that tip!