Applesauce and Rebel Canning
I don't know why I never tried making applesauce before, but it's really simple. Core, peel, chop, boil, and blend. That's it!
I made so much of it that it was worth canning rather than freezing. Unfortunately, I had to process it in three batches because the canning jars I had were only half pints. In case grade school is a few years behind you and you need a refresher, that's a complicated way of saying one cup. I can't believed I canned applesauce by the cup! So ridiculous.
It was a pathetic, sweaty process and it left me thinking my canning days were over FOREVER. Then I got a great tip from my mom. There's an easier way.
Canning is one of those simple things that are so over-explained that it's tempting not to bother at all. Every single last cookbook on canning reads something like this, "If you get this wrong, please don't sue me, and don't say I didn't warn you. Canning is dangerous. You can kill your whole family if you don't boil every single surface of your kitchen. Follow my directions, double-check it with the Ball Blue Book of Canning, and remember that if something horrible happens, you're on your own. Turn the page to sign a waiver before proceeding." (It's true that the sugar level and acidity all have to be just right, so yes, you should follow a recipe. Canning has rules.)
And then those of us dumb enough to keep going have to slave over a hot stove while all that boiling water melts off your makeup. However... (What I am about to say might be illegal, I don't know, but I'm not advising you. Consult with your doctor, the Ball Blue Book, whatever. Please don't sue me.)
The "normal" process is to boil your clean jars, lift them out of the boiling water onto a clean cloth, fill them with piping hot jam or whatever you're canning, top them off with canning lids that have been sitting in very hot water, and then boil them for a specified period of time. After removing the jars from their boiling water bath, you let them sit undisturbed until they cool and contract, causing the lids to seal.
The daring process probably practiced all through America and Europe before we all got scared was to fill the clean jars with piping hot jam up to a quarter inch from the rim, put the lids on, and then flip them upside down and hope the hot jam sterilized the already clean lid. I've tried this method, and while it worked just fine, I was too scared to give any of it away.
My mother's method beats both of those in my opinion. It makes sense to me, and this is how I do it now. Remember, water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit. So instead of all that boiling, put clean jars in a 250 degree oven on a baking sheet. When your jam or applesauce is ready, lift out the baking sheet and fill the jars. Put the lids on them, and then put them back in the 250 degree oven for half an hour. Most jam recipes call for ten minutes of boiling, so by leaving them in the oven for half an hour you're just hedging your bets. Take them all out and leave them until all the lids have sealed. (If one doesn't seal, refrigerate it.) Done.
No more endless boiling, and I am still alive to tell the story.
Peeled, chopped, and cored apples
Put all the apples in a heavy saucepan. Add a little water to keep them from burning on the bottom, and put them over a medium flame. Bring it to a boil and then stir. The apples cook pretty quickly. Once they are cooked, puree them in batches in a blender or a food processor.
The cooking portion is done, and if you'd like to can your applesauce, it's really not that hard anymore.
Put clean canning jars in a heated 250 degree oven.
Bring the pureed applesauce back to a boil on the stove. Take the jars out of the oven, fill them, and put clean lids on. Put them all back in the oven for thirty minutes.
After the time is up, take the tray with the jars out of the oven and leave them to cool. They are sealed when the lid doesn't pop anymore. Done!
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