It's great having friends with neighbours with fruit trees! This past weekend, I inherited about a bushel of apples from my friends Fred and Michael.
Their neighbour behind them has a huge apple tree on the edge of their property and the branches overhang Fred and Michael's back yard a fair bit. This year has been a particularly good one for apples and since the tree was hanging heavy with fruit, Fred got busy and did some picking. He ended up with about 2 1/2 bushels and after canning 53 pints of applesauce, offered the remaining apples to me. Free produce is just the best!! And it's all natural, not sprayed. What more could you want?
So, on Sunday I tackled the first batch of about 6 pounds of apples and tried making some applesauce. The apples are really quite tart to eat raw and I'm not sure of the variety -- they have the taste and texture of Northern Spys -- but the finished applesauce is just perfect! The apples sweeten up as they cook down, but not enough to be cloying. Just a nice fresh apple taste. Perfect over yogurt for breakfast!
And with a food mill (I used my trusty tomato press and it worked wonderfully!), making applesauce is a snap. Prepare a water bath and enough canning jars. My 6 pounds of apples yielded about 4 pints. Simply wash the apples first, then pick them over and cut off any blemished bits. Then cut them into quarters. No need to peel or core! If you find any wormholes or bad cores either discard the apple or cut out the bad parts.
Like making tomato sauce, put a splash of water in the bottom of a large heavy pot and cover with a single layer of apple quarters. Bring to boil on medium-high heat and let the apples begin to soften, stirring often to prevent scorching. Press down on the apples with a potato masher or large spoon to crush them a bit and release some juice. Continue to add more quartered apples slowly, allowing the pot to return to a slow boil in between additions.
When all the apples are in and are softened, start feeding them through the mill and you will have lovely applesauce!
Process for 15 minutes for pints or 20 minutes for quarts and you're done!! This was a trial batch to see how my tomato press would work with apples and since it did such a great job, I will definitely be making more! Besides, the 6 pounds I used here barely made a dent in the apples, so I have lots more to work with! They keep nicely, so I'll make a batch here and there over the coming weeks as the spirit moves me.
As I mentioned, I ended up with about 4 pints of applesauce and I used whatever jars were handy in the kitchen at the time -- in this case it was two commercial pasta sauce jars (totalling 3 pints) and a pint jar.
So, the pint jar isn't exactly full right? Well, I had to sample some (for quality control purposes of course!) and it's just SO good I found it hard to stop eating it with a spoon right out of the jar before I caught myself and realized that I still needed to photograph the jars. Oh well! Consider it testimony to how great (and easy!) homemade applesauce is. You'll never go back to store-bought again!