Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Applesauce - the home made way

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After a few years into marriage I decided that making my own baby food was the best way to go to provide better nutrition for my infants.  One of the many things that I decided to do and still do for our whole family is make applesauce.  Apples seem to be in abundance where I live and there are so many things you can do with them.
The first few times I made applesauce I peeled and cored every apple and then put them in a pot on the stove to cook down.  The applesauce was good but there was too much work involved for me to continue this process so I started looking around for something to help make this process easier. Two products that I found on the market were a steam juicer and food strainer/sauce makerThe steam juicer is an appliance that can be used for many things.  Besides being a steam juicer, it is a colander, steam cooker, soup pot and roaster so if you want to get your money’s worth out of it don’t store it too far away because you can use it all year long.
When preparing my applesauce I use the steam juicer first.  I wash my apples, stem, and quarter them (which allows the apples to cook faster).  I do not take the time to core them because the food strainer/sauce maker will take care of the cores.  I fill up the colander in the steamer with the prepared apples.   The bottom pan or sauce pot in the juicer must be filled with water.  Place the sauce pot on the stove filled with water, the juice kettle on top and then the colander on top of that with the lid in place.  Bring that to a boil. You should allow your apples to steam for about 60 minutes or until they are nice and mushy.
While the apples have been steaming, concentrated juice has been collecting in the juice kettle.  I drain that juice off, bottle it while it is hot and process it in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes (3,000 to 6,000 ft).  Later I use the juice for fruit drinks or boil it with sugar for syrup (great on pancakes or waffles). 
After the apples have steamed for 60 minutes and I have bottled all of the juice.  I run the apples through a food strainer/sauce maker.  This machine is great because it separates the peel, core and seeds from the pulp.  The food strainer/sauce maker is nice but not absolutely necessary either.  I have in the past just mashed my apples through a sieve.  Once the pulp has been extracted though, you need to add some kind of anti-darkening agent.  I use Fruit Fresh.   I just add the powder right to the applesauce.  The next step is to return the applesauce to the sauce pot (the bottom pot of the steamer) and add sugar.   I taste my sauce and sweeten it accordingly.  You can follow this tip. Add ¼ cup sugar per pound of apples.  I have also added red cinnamon candy to my sauce.  It gives it a nice pink color, adds some sweetness, and a cinnamon taste.  My kids think this applesauce is great.
  After you add your sugar heat the sauce to boiling.  Stir the sauce to prevent sticking.  Maintain temperature at a boil (212°F) while filling jars.  Ladle hot sauce into hot jars, leaving ½ inch headspace.  Remove air bubbles by crisscrossing a flat plastic utensil through the sauce.  Wipe around the top of the bottle. Place hot lid on the bottle and finger tighten the ring.    Process your pints or quarts of applesauce for 30 minutes (3,000 to 6,000 ft) in a boiling water bath.  After processing time is over remove carefully.  Let the jars sit on a towel covered counter for 12 to 24 hours.  Then check the seal by pressing the lid in the center.  If it gives at all it is not sealed and must be refrigerated.  Use your unsealed applesauce within 24 hours.
I know it seems like a lot of work but it is well worth the effort.  Homemade applesauce just doesn’t compare to store bought sauce.  When you do your own you have a piece of mind that you know what is going into the sauce.  It also gives you a sense of pride and satisfaction. I think your kids will love the fact that it is homemade too. So start making sauce and enjoy. 

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