This has been a productive year for apples, so my husband and I were given several pounds from generous family members last week. As a result, I’ve been busy peeling, coring, and chopping ever since, and although it’s true that apples can be a bit of a chore to prepare, the rewards are worth it later in the year when I look through the contents of my pantry and find an abundance of jars waiting for me to open.
Aside from baked goods, like pies, cakes or crumbles, I tend to preserve most of my apples as either apple butter, which I’ve posted about before here, or applesauce, which takes much less time and effort to prepare than apple butter, but is a major staple in our household. The great thing about applesauce is that it doesn’t require sugar to remain shelf-stable, so you can make it as sweet as you want. I’ll often forego the sugar altogether if the apples are sweet enough on their own, and if I have an abundance of sauce (like I do this year), I’ll give some of it away as gifts to my apple-loving friends and family members.
• 8 pounds apples, quartered, peeled, and cored
• Juice of 1 lemon
• 1 cup water
• Brown sugar, to taste (optional)
Optional spices to use, all to taste:
• Ground cinnamon (or 1 cinnamon stick)
• Freshly grated nutmeg
• Ground cardamom
• Cloves, ground or whole
• Allspice, ground or whole
• Star Anise, ground or whole
Prepare the apples by quartering, peeling, and coring. Place prepared apples in a bowl and squeeze fresh lemon juice over the top to prevent from browning.
Place apples and water in a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Stir every five minutes or so until the apples begin to soften and fall apart. Add the sugar (optional) and spices to taste. I usually use whole spices that I let steep in the applesauce until it’s ready to can. Taste and adjust sugar and spices as necessary.
Once the apples are mushy enough that they fall apart easily, mash them up with a potato masher (or blend with an immersion blender if you want a really smooth sauce). Pack into sterilized quart jars, apply new and sterile lids, screw on bands, and process in a water bath for 20-30 minutes, depending on your elevation. See this site to help determine how much time is necessary for your location.
Remove jars from water bath and place on a towel until they have cooled to room temperature. Check seals and store in a cool, dark place for up to a year. To gift, add tags and labels, making sure to indicate the date they were made for your recipient. For my jars of applesauce, I used tuxedo colored tags and labels in the style Aunt Lorraine.