Here it is - the much promised apple post. That's how I spent my Monday afternoon (well, it started on Sunday to tell the truth) - canning applesauce and apple butter.
Last year was my first year making applesauce. I laugh now thinking back at how intimated I was by the thought. Seriously, this has to be one of the easiest recipes out there. I like my applesauce plain - no sugar or spices - but if you want those, you can just add them to taste.
Basic Unsweetened Applesauce
(Makes 5-6 cups)
8-10 medium apples, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
Place apples and water in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer about 1 hour until apples are mushy.
If you like chunky applesauce, you can stop here. Yeah - seriously. It's that easy!
If you like smooth applesauce, let it cool for a bit and then run it through the blender in batches.
(The instructions for canning your applesauce are below the apple butter recipe.)
Now apple butter is a little more time consuming. Not more complicated, that's for sure. (For those of you who have never had it, apple butter really isn't butter at all. It's just a very thick, creamy, smooth apple and spice mixture that you can serve on toast, muffins, popovers, etc.)
I started mine with fresh apples and used my slow cooker. Using this method, it took me about 16 hours to get the desired result (I did it over 2 days). That worked out for me because I didn't want to can until the second day anyway. But, if you start with applesauce, your cook time will probably be more like 8-10 hours.
(Makes about 1 1/2 cups)
8 medium apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1/2 c. water
1/4 c. sugar
1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
Place chopped apples in the crock of your slow cooker. Pour water, sugar and spices over the top. Toss to mix. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours.
After about 4 hours, stir and break up the apples. Place top only part way on, to allow steam to escape. Continue cooking another 8 hours.
At this point, take the crock out of the slow cooker base and allow mixture to cool slightly. Run through a blender to smooth out the mixture. Refrigerate overnight.
The next morning, place the mixture in the crock and slow cooker, turn heat to high and let cook partially covered for another 4 hours until mixture is dark brown and thick. (You can cook it longer to get it thicker. If it's too thick, add a bit of apple juice.)
To can both your apple butter and applesauce, start by sterilizing your jars. Add hot apple butter and hot applesauce to hot jars (or cold food to cold jars - just don't mix temperatures - or risk glass breakage). Leave about 1/4" of head space at the top of each jar. Place in stock pot with water covering jars by at least 1". Bring water to a boil and boil jars for 15 minutes.
(You can read more about safe canning and get instructions for various altitudes at the
National Center for Home Food Preservation.)
Then - ta da! You have canned apple butter and applesauce to enjoy all winter!