In May, people say spring is in the air. But nothing smells like the wonder of fall. October fills the senses with dry autumn leaves, warm breezes, moist ground, and the sweetness of crispy apples off the tree or stewing in a lip-smacking sauce. Now it's time to race the deer to the windfalls and to harvest that treat!
Put 'em in a pot.
Then add the sugar, a little or a lot.
Sweet and spicy, bubble, bubble, bubble.
Ladle in the jars on the double, double, double.
Load 'em in the water bath for just a little while.
I love my yummy applesauce! Time to peel another pile!
Instructions for cooking/canning applesauce (farmer measurements):
Put about a quart of water in a 12 quart stock pot. Add about 1/2 cup lemon juice. Dump in peeled quartered or sliced apples until the pot is full. (Some people don't bother peeling. They quarter and cook, then sieve the apples. That works too. I prefer peeling.) I also turn the pot on low as soon as I have it about 1/4 full of apples and continue adding apples and tossing them about with a long spoon as they cook. Like I said, fill the pot because they'll cook down to about 3/4 pot.
Cook on low heat and stir often. You may need to add 2 or 3 more cups of water. If you neglect stirring or turn the heat too high the apples will burn to the bottom. Continue cooking and stirring until apples have cooked down into a saucy consistency. The time depends on the kind of apple and the size of the chunks. Softer apples cook faster. Note: WEAR AN OVEN MITT when stirring! Nothing burns worse than a blop of applesauce on your hand, and it does blop!
As the sauce is getting near to being completely cooked down, I then add about a tablespoon of cinnamon. You can other spices like nutmeg if you like, or skip them completely. I prefer just cinnamon. When the sauce looks ready, then I add sugar. Adding it earlier increases the likelihood of burning to the bottom. I cook it for another minute or two after adding the sugar, stirring constantly.
How much sugar?
That depends on your apples. (Check out Michelle Strombeck's favorite here.) Sweeten it to taste, (but don't burn your tongue when you test it!) My batch had tart, soft pie apples, so I added about 6 cups. That sweetened it up quite a bit. You might prefer less. Start with 2-3 cups and taste it as the sugar dissolves.
Ladle into clean, scalded jars. Wipe rims clean. Fit with lids and rings. Place into hot water bath, and bring to a boil. Boil for about fifteen minutes (check on this time depending on whether you are at or above sea level.) Use a jar lifter to pull out the jars and wait for the seals to pop. That's all there is to it!
After 24 hours, I carefully remove the rings to use on another batch.
One more thing:
Listen and sing along to some good music while you process your apples: