Why You Should Make (And Preserve) Your Own Apple Sauce

8:39 AM

When starting off canning, a lot of people like to jump right into jams and jellies when there is something much easier and much more versatile to get your feet wet with: applesause.

Fall is such a wonderful time for apples. The orchards are plentiful and nothing beats the fresh aroma of cooked apples: whether it be a pie, a bread, a jam or a sauce. In addition, apples are economically reasonable, especially if you are lucky enough to have a pick-your-own orchard or a tree of your own. Even in the markets, apples usually range around a dollar a pound for the conventional varieties which makes them a good target crop to experiment with.

Why Applesauce You Ask?

Applesauce is one of the easiest things to make....ever. You don't even have to peel the apples if you don't want and you can mix and match any variety (although I don't recommend using tart apples such as granny smith). It is also a great way to use any of your pickings that are not getting eaten quickly enough and to use up any "fallen" product from your own or an orchard tree. (Some orchards will allow you to purchase the fallen products at a discount price.)

Applesauce also has a million and one (maybe not literally) uses. The Pioneer Woman's Blog has some of my favorite uses already outlined and sure to cause slight salivation whilst reading. In addition, sugar free applesauce is an excellent substitution for sugar in many baking recipes and can be used also to substitute egg for vegan baking.

Check out THIS LINK for some health substitutions for baking.

"Why should I make my own when I can get a jar at the market for around $2?" 

Well, for me that's an easy one: sugar! sugar! sugar! I absolutely despise the super-sweet applesauce from the commercial companies such as Mott's and the store-variety brands. They like to market their products as being a "healthy snack," when in fact there is little apple left once they've gotten their hands on it. For instance, a serving of 3.5 ounces is just 100 calories, however, 88% of the calories are from sugars (the equivalent of 5-1/2 teaspoons) and there is only 1 gram of fiber, where as a regular sized apple may have the same amount of calories, but four times the fiber, around half the sugar, and no artificial sweeteners. It is also rich in nutrients and antioxidants compared to applesauce.

In addition, you can choose what you put into your applesauce...and not only just the apples. For instance, you can spice it up with some cinnamon and nutmeg or add a splash of vanilla, or, my favorite, cardamom. Experiment with small batches, take notes, on your favorites, and have a blast.

By far the Pick Your Own website has been my favorite website when learning to can and finding inspiration for new recipes. The site is incredibly informative and displays everything you need to preserve your fruits and veggies.

When it comes to preparing your apples, simply wash, core, and remove any seeds and leaves that may remain. Place your apples in a pot with about an inch of water and cook your apples until they are nice and soft (this can be anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes). At this point you have a few options to process your apple sauce. Some like to press it through a sieve, whereas myself, personally, I like to use a regular blender for a super creamy consistency or hand mash for a "chunky" style. When finished, fill your sterile jars and leave a good amount of head space - 1/2" recommended - before you apply your lids and ring. (For some reason lately, despite leaving about 1/2" head space I have had a few jars "overflow" when processing where as others have been perfect at 1/2" space. The neighbors, however, have been happy to get all of the cans that I am unable to store.) Remove any bubbles with your spatula, apply your lids and rings and process your applesauce in a water bath canner for the amount of time recommended for your altitude (make sure to check The National Center for Home Food Preservation for your recommended processing time.). After processing my sauce I like to let it sit overnight to cool. In the morning I check all of my lids and rings (this is when I discovered some had overflowed!), add some decorative hanging tags and store up for the holidays and special Christmas present.

This fall I hope you all give a go at making your own applesauce. It would be such a wonderful treat, too, for Thanksgiving Dinner, and is a healthier option to pie (although pie can be nice, too!).

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