Sunday, September 28, 2008

Applesauce Weekend

The very important business I had to attend to??? Applesauce. And, believe you me, in our house (and family) this is VERY important business. Since we don't buy produce all winter long, we depend on preserving and freezing our fruit to get us through the winter. Applesauce is perfect. Sam and Sadie adore it. It's how we get them to eat their dinner. It has the same power as dessert does when we need to bribe them into eating their vegetables or trying something new. And, because we use an apple that is so sweet it doesn't require adding sugar to the sauce, there is no guilt if they eat seconds or thirds.

This is a family tradition. Every year, my siblings and their significant others come together and make applesauce at my parent's house. We travel north to participate because the best saucing apple comes from up north. Red Cortlands. They make beautiful sweet, apple-ly, pink sauce. I've tried other apples and they are just not the same. A couple days before everyone arrived in town, my parents went to a local orchard and picked up our family's order of 28 baskets (the equivalent of 14 bushels) of Red Courtlands.

If you know me (and my mom), you know that the first thing you do when you have a boat load of fruit is make a pie. We made my mom's apple pie and a pear raspberry tart (in a pie plate). First things first.

Aren't these apples gorgeous?? Here is how things went this weekend.... Jamey, my mom and I started in Friday morning. On Saturday morning, a whole bunch more people came and chipped in, doing what took my mom, Jamey and I all day on Friday, in just the morning. Did that last sentence make sense? Ok. First, you wash the apples.

Next, we quartered them, leaving the skins and seeds in place, but removing the stems.

Then, we cooked them in pots on the stove in an inch or two of water until they got nice and soft.

This contraption (for those of you who haven't seen one before) is called a Squeezo or Victoria strainer or a food mill/strainer. You put the hot apples in the top. Then, you use a plunger, of sorts, to press the apples down the hopper as you turn the crank. The skins and seeds fall out of one end and into the tray to the back. The apple sauce gets pushed through a metal screen and flows down and into the apple sauce pan. Jamey is plunging and Sam is turning.

Here, you can see what happens when you add red raspberries (fresh or frozen) into the hopper with the cooked apples. The sqeezo takes the raspberry seeds out and you get this beautiful raspberry applesauce. I usually set enough red raspberries aside to make about a third of my sauce like this. It's simply delicious.

Here's my Sadie girl, helping to scrape the sauce down into the tray. Once the tray is full, you can mix in whatever (if any) amount of sugar into the warm sauce and ladle it into containers to freeze. Before we bought our second freezer, I canned a lot of my apple sauce. I ladled it into hot jars and hot water bathed them to get a seal.

Now, on Saturday, when we had an additional 10 people, we set up two applesauce stations. In addition to the kitchen, we set up a big table in my parent's garage, borrowed my Grammie's sqeezo and did double duty. We also borrowed their portable stove so we could cook apples right there and we used the laundry room sink to wash them.

Below are two pictures of the upstairs operation. My mom's parents and my dad's mother (Grandma, who visited us in August) helped work the upstairs operation while my dad, Jamey and my brother, made up the garage team.

It really is a lot of set up, work and clean up, but it's so much fun to do it all together. Many hands make light work and good applesauce.

Our share of the booty? We brought home 14 baskets (7 bushels) worth of sauce (144 quarts) and one bag of apples for baking. We barely managed to wrestle it into our freezers. Several quarts didn't make it in, so they are in our fridge just waiting to be eaten. Hmmmm. I do feel a little hungry.... Pin It


  1. Wow that's a lot of sauce. What an operation you had going :) Mom & I did 44 quarts this morning (not sure just what I'd do with an extra 100 !) We used Cortlands too. Ymmmm! Enjoy!


  2. Wow!!! What fun! Looks like a ton of work, but what a great tradition, and how cool that you get your family together.

  3. Hi, I just found your blog, and may I just say how much I admire you. I aspire to one day do the same thing for my family.
    I just have a quick question. Why do you choose to freeze your applesauce instead of canning it? I ask only because you put up *so much* that I'm curious why you would give so much valuable freezer space to it when you can store it on a shelf if you can it?
    Thank you for sharing your experiences, I look forward to catching myself up on your blog!

  4. Lily girl,

    Good question! I freeze our applesauce for a few reasons. 1) Canning it all takes additional work- and we are all pooped at the end of this project! 2) It would use valuable stove top space to run the canner- we need all the burners for cooking down the apples 3) I would've needed an additional 144 quart jars and lids which becomes expensive and 4) I don't have enough room in the pantry.

    Now, for smaller batches, I think canning the sauce is an excellent idea. A couple years ago, I froze half and canned half and this worked well. It's just a lot of added work and sweat (the kitchen gets really hot) to run all those jars through a canner yet.

    I hope this answers your question. If not, ask again:-). Thanks for visiting!!

  5. I've been wanting to freeze some applesauce instead of canning it this I still need to add lemon juice to each jar? Do you do this to keep the color, or for additional acid. Thank you, hope all is well, I've missed your posts, but know you're incredibly busy!


    1. Janet, The lemon juice is only for the canning process, so you do not need to use it when freezing your sauce. Thanks for missing me- I'll be back soon:-)!

  6. Can you can any applesauce recipe? I just made some last night from a recipe I found online, which was made in the crock pot. Turned out amazing. But now I'm wondering...I probably needed to add lemon juice or something, right? Will it go bad if I can it as-is? Does it have to be a recipe formulated just for canning? Here's the recipe I made:
    Thank you!!!

    1. I couldn't pull up your link, but I would say that as long as the applesauce is almost entirely apples (sugar is fine) AND if you added 1 tbsp. lemon juice to each quart jar and processed them for 20 minutes in boiling water (hot water bath), you should be just fine.


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