Last year I canned a few pints of applesauce using our tart apples, and it was really good once I sweetened it sufficiently. This year, our trees failed to produce a single apple so we went without the usual canned apple treats, until I ran across this screaming deal. After reading up on the best apples for sauce, I ended up purchasing about 30 pounds of MacIntosh and 30 pounds of Golden Delicious apples...which I got for around $35.00. The Golden Delicious are sweet enough that you won't have to add sugar at the end, and the MacIntosh adds just a hint of tartness without puckering you up.
Applesauce is the easiest thing in the world to make...if you have the right tools. One of the tools no home should be without is the Victorio food strainer. My aunt bought me mine a few years ago when she found out I was canning (she has an apple orchard in California) and I have used it for so many canning projects since then that I'm not sure how I ever lived without it. With the special screens, you can make perfect, pain-free applesauce, tomato sauce, grape juice, pumpkin puree, and that's just what I've used it for. Countless other options are available.
So here's what I did.
Because I had so many apples, I just kept rotating stockpots full of apples onto the stove. As one was boiling, I ran the previous pot through the Victorio and filled it back up with cut apples, reusing the hot water from the previous batch so it wouldn't take as long to bring the new batch to a boil. I always say that for canning you can't have too many large plastic bowls or large heavy stock pots. I was glad I had several pots for this project, or this simple process could have taken all day!
Once the boiled apples have been turned into hot applesauce, pour the applesauce into a heavy stockpot and keep it warm. Meanwhile, prep and sterilize your jars, and fire up your waterbath canner.
Check consistency of your applesauce. You do NOT need to cook down your applesauce if you make it with the Victorio, as it will come out really thick already. You may, however, need to add some liquid to thin your sauce. I canned my first 6 quarts and they overflowed badly when I pulled them out of the canner, and had all kinds of air bubbles in the jars. Apparently, this is because the sauce is too thick once they lose all of their moisture in processing. So in the other batches, I added a little of the strained cooking water and a bit of all-natural, unsweetened apple juice. To test moisture, look for a thin line of liquid to appear around a spoonful of your sauce, and it should be a soft mound on the spoon. After I made this quick adjustment, my subsequent jars also had a little spillage, but not enough to worry about, and every jar had a nice tight seal.
Taste and season the sauce to your liking. My first batch was au naturel, with no added sweetener or spices. I use this to cook with, or for baby food, or for kids with tummy aches. To the next batch, I added 4 tablespoons of cinnamon, plus a shake of nutmeg and a sprinkle of ground clove. That's it! No added sugar necessary! Delicious!!
Spoon the warm sauce into your hot, sterilized quart jars and process about 25 minutes (at sea level, 30 minutes at altitude). If you get any spillage like I did, make sure you remove the rings after the lid seals and clean the jars with soapy warm water. You don't want mold growing on the top! My ~60 pounds of apples yielded 18 quarts of applesauce, with enough left over to feed the family each a big bowl as an after dinner treat.
Little Sister announced that this was the best cooking project EVER, and the end result was definitely worth the effort. Eighteen jars of the best applesauce you have ever eaten worked out to be about $1.95 per jar. Happy canning!