In this week’s At Home with Martin and Sylvia story "A Kitchen of Canning", it’s the end of tomato season and the beginning of apple season, which means that it’s time to preserve apples for the winter.
Martin and Sylvia have a smart Momma, indeed! Homemade applesauce—typically dolloped onto a bowl of warm oatmeal at our house—is like a fuzzy scarf and a hug as the weather starts to turn colder.
And fortunately, making homemade applesauce is much easier than knitting fuzzy scarves. With about an hour of largely inactive prep, you can easily stock your larder with enough applesauce to top hot oatmeal and everything else your heart desires for all of fall.
3 pounds of apples
½ cup water
¼ honey (optional)
1 heavy tablespoon cinnamon (optional)
To start, you’ll need about 3 pounds of apples. I like to pick a mix of varieties: a couple of Gala, three or four Granny Smith, but that’s a personal preference. One of the beauties of making your own applesauce is that you can make it exactly as sweet or as tart as you like it.
Next, pull out a large stock pot, and measure in 1/2 cup of water. Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tablespoons) into the water.
Then, it’s back to the apples. I don’t like to peel mine, because I like the little flecks of color the skin gives the finished sauce. Again, that’s a personal preference, so feel free to peel your apples first if that makes you happy.
Once they’re peeled (or not), begin chopping. No need to dice the apples, just a rough chop into 1- or 2-inch pieces will do. Discard the cores and stems, and add the chunks to the lemon water.
Roughly chop apples and put them in a large stock pot to make homemade applesauce.
Put the whole pot on the stove until the water begins to boil, then let it all simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. The apples will all cook at different speeds, but you’ll know they’re done when the firmer apples are fairly soft, and the softer apples are beginning to look a little like sauce. Also, it will smell amazing!
In batches, transfer the softened apples to a food mill or food processor. Whiz them up, then add them back to the stockpot. Stir the sauce together, then dip in a clean spoon or finger for a taste.
If it’s sweet enough, you’re good-to-go, but feel free to add honey or sugar to taste. This is also a good time to add some cinnamon. (For my applesauce, I added about 1/4 cup of honey and 1 heavy tablespoon of cinnamon.)
If you have extra room in the freezer, this sauce can be stored there for about six months. If you’re freezing in glass jars remember to leave generous headspace, at least an inch, if not a little more, to avoid broken jars.
This sauce is also suitable for canning. You’ll want to process it in sterilized half-pint jars for 10 minutes. The recipe yield is a little different every time, depending on how much water is in the apples themselves, but I typically get about three pints, plus a few good bites for immediate tasting.
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About the Author
The Sparkle Kitchen Series is created by Meryl Carver-Allmond.
Meryl lives in a hundred year old house near the prairie with her sweet husband, two pre-schoolers, one puppy, one gecko, and about ten chickens. While she's been writing since she could pick up a pen, in recent years she's discovered the joy of photography, too. She feels lucky to be able to combine those skills, along with a third passion--showing people that cooking for themselves can be healthy and fun--in her weekly Sparkle Kitchen posts.
When Meryl isn't writing for Sparkle Kitchen, you can find her on her personal blog, My Bit of Earth, where she writes about chickens, babies, knitting, gardening, food, photography, and whatever else tickles her fancy on any given day.