Anyone else remember cooking with Mom or maybe Grandma in the kitchen as a child? Of course. So many of us cook/bake BECAUSE we are trying to recreate or capture that feeling, that taste of comfort, of home, of a good meal enveloping us like a warm homey hug.
Too much? Sorry.
My Grandma Taylor in her kitchen. I get my knife skills from her.
Today I attempted my very first Canning Adventure.
Now, growing up we weren’t rich. My parents had a HUGE garden and Mom had planted apple trees, peach, and you name it fruit trees in our back yard. From potatoes to raspberries to apples, they could grow anything. And they did. And I remember Mom in the kitchen with clouds of steam wreathing around her as she prepared veggies to be canned; green & yellow beans, tomatoes, salsas, and others to be frozen until used; peas, carrots, parsnips, and beets.
I have a smaller space (like, Teeny Tiny comes to mind) to grow. Mostly I have a sauce garden; that is, tomatoes, basil, onions and other herbs. This year, the catnip grew remarkably well. The rest, not so much. But that’s okay. Living where I live we have tons of awesome farmer’s markets so we can stock up. So when Mr. J brought home a grocery bag full of Empire apples … my first thought was …”Um….okaaaaay” then “I AM GOING TO CONQUER THE WORLD OF CANNING!!!”
Then I realized I hadn’t canned ANYTHING ever since I was 8 or so; and that watching my Mom was probably very different from actually doing it.
(And probably for the best. I mean, there’s a lot of boiling hot water involved. And I was a klutzy kid. Still am.)
So of course, the first thing I did was Google search “Making your Own Applesauce” and I found a lot of good resources. I read up about all the preparing, and cleaning, and sanitizing.
I looked over lots of recipes, and referenced THIS awesome page A lot. If you’ve never canned or made apple sauce before; check out Pick Your Own. Easy to follow, lots of photos. Plus there are links to other useful stuff and other great recipes on how to can pretty much anything.
I used the Crock Pot method; I peeled and cut up a lot of Empire apples. How much is a lot? A grocery bag full. I peeled them sitting outside in the afternoon sun, it was great. I felt wasteful throwing out the peels, so I sprinkled some with cinnamon & sugar and had a snack; the rest including the cores, I left out for the squirrels & birds. All gone this morning!
Hand peeling a bag of apples is a lot of work; and for the next step: I recommend one of these babies:
A metal apple-corer-slicer. Wow. Just wow. If you don’t have one, get one. Worth the $15 bucks!
Cut down on the slicing time and saved my wrists.
So I cut them all up and dumped them right into my slow cooker. I added a cup of brown sugar, a big dollop of cinnamon, some nutmeg and a dash of cloves. Also added about 3/4 cup of apple cider.
And that was that! Stirred it up a bit and left it on High for two hours. Just before bed I set it to LOW and left it overnight.
This morning, the house smelled amazing. And THIS was was I found:
Hard to get good light.
The apples had cooked down and were all amber and the SMELL was heavenly.
I used my potato masher to get the remaining bigger pieces. After tasting I did add 1/4 more brown sugar and a tad more cinnamon. But there was still something missing. It didn’t taste “bright” enough, like you want applesauce to be. So I added the juice of half a lemon and 1/2 cup white sugar. Boom. Did the trick. I think that if you add a bit of lemon juice to the start of the recipe, it will turn out lighter as well. Have to try that next time.
Make sure you catch the seeds!! Don’t leave them in your sauce.
So then you take your canning jars; I used the Bernardin 250ml ones.
Find them at Canadian Tire; $9.99 for 12
Fill them up with the hot applesauce. (Sounds like a good curse word HOT APPLESAUCE!)
Use one of these adjustable wide mouth funnels to help.
Also at Canadian Tire! Right beside the jars, actually.
Ladle your hot applesauce into the hot jars, and then back into the boiling water they go.
Make sure that when you put the lids on the jars there is no sauce or water on the lip of the jar. Also ensure that the lid on on properly. Screw on the outer ring and back into the tub.
Be careful!! Use tongs, protect your arms with long sleeves/oven mitts.
As the website suggested; I let them boil for 15 minutes in the water.
Then I removed them, carefully with the tongs and using an oven mitt on my hand to protect from splashes. I set them on my cutting board and they are now cooling on my shelf!!
I had a wee bit left over so into the fridge it goes; plus I froze a small ziploc baggie full, as I didn’t have enough for more jars.
The colour was rich and dark amber, and the taste was appley and cinnamoney and all things good in a jar. Yum. On yogurt, on toast, with cottage cheese, on pork chops….can’t wait!
And that is that!! It seems intimidating, but honestly, it wasn’t that hard!
No one was more surprised than I.
Recipe For My Version of Applesauce
Peel, Core & Slice desired number of apples. One grocery bag full = one large slow cooker full.
Set cooker to High.
Into cooker add:
3/4 cup apple cider or apple juice, or water.
3/4 cup brown sugar
4 tbsp cinnamon – Adjust for taste – I like a lot
1 tbsp nutmeg
1 tbsp cloves (powdered not whole)
Stir well, put lid on. Leave at HIGH for two hours, stir after one.
Set down to LOW and leave for 8-10 hours. (I left it on overnight)
Remove lid, stir. Use potato masher or hand blender to smooth it out.
Add juice of 1/2 lemon
Add 1/2 cup white granulated sugar (more to taste)
Add more cinnamon, nutmeg, etc to taste.
Stir, and bring up to HIGH heat.
In a large pot or Canner Pot, have water boiling and jars, lids, outer rings submerged for at least 10 mins.
Remove all with tongs and insert funnel into mouth of jar.
Using a ladle add sauce into jar; leaving a clear 1/2 inch at top.
Make sure mouth of jar is clean & clear before adding lid, then add outer ring and re-submerge into boiling water.
For 250ML size jars; leave in for at least 15 mins in the boiling water.
Remove carefully with tongs & oven mitt.
Careful not to jostle or have the jars touching, place on cutting board and onto a safe draft free area to cool.
If any lid has popped up DO NOT STORE it. Either redo the entire process, or use immediately.