Monday, October 18, 2010

The Last Big Push

Although this last push didn't include a baby emerging from my body, it did take concerted effort and marks the finale of our preserving this year.

This past weekend, Jamey's parents drove down to our house in their produce stand pick up truck.  With them, they brought 24 large, beautiful heads of broccoli that they picked up from a produce stand up their way.  Jamey's mom and I blanched and froze almost all of it Friday afternoon.  This was a huge delight for me because our broccoli failed miserably this year (let's blame it on the drought) and it saddened me to think of a winter without broccoli cheddar quiche and Bang Bang Chicken.  I am no longer sad, by the way.

In addition to the broccoli, they brought one basket of Gala apples for eating and 8 bushels of Cortland apples for saucing.  All these apples came from an Amish orchard near their house.  The Cortlands were $12 a bushel and beautiful.

Let me pause here and tell you a little story.  When I was figuring out how many jars and containers we would need for the applesauce (I knew we needed to can some this year since our freezers were running out of room), I was planning on each basket yielding about 8 quarts of applesauce, approximately.  This meant that 16 baskets should yield about 128 quarts.  I had 80 jars washed and ready and figured out I had room in our chest freezer for 45 quarts, totaling 125 quarts.   I assumed the rest we could store in the fridge and eat right away.  Our family goes through apple sauce like nobody's business.

Once Jamey's parents were here, his mother mentioned that when she helped his sister put up 4 baskets the week before, it yielded 54 quarts.  Excuse me.  What?!  That meant each basked yielded 13.5 quarts.  A bit different than 8 quarts per basket.

We determined that their "baskets" were different from our "baskets" and that we were looking at a lot more applesauce than we initially expected.  Thankfully, the end result landed somewhere between our estimations and their estimations.

Another thing they brought in that magic truck of theirs was an outdoor canner fully equipped with stand and propane burner.  It held 15 quart jars and freed up all my stove top burner space for pots cooking the apples.  They use this giant pot for blanching corn before they freeze it.  They freeze a lot of corn.

We started at 8 in the morning and all fell into our preferred stations.  Jamey's mom washed and cut apples.  Jamey's dad manned the strainer (a.k.a. Victoria, a.k.a. Squeezo), Jamey worked the outdoor canner and kept an eye on the pots of cooking apples and I filled jars and containers, heated lids, and helped watch the stove and wash a few apples when I was caught up.  It was quite a feat to keep up with Jamey's dad.  He's got some serious skills when it comes to efficient turning and straining.

The kids helped turn the strainer, wash apples and play with Miriam.  We took an hour break for lunch and by 4 in the afternoon, the dishes were washed and put away and the floor was mopped.  I could not believe it.

We let the containers cool on the dining room table before lidding them.  After the jars came out of the canner, we let them sit outside to cool, covered with towels so they wouldn't cool too quickly.  As they cooled, we transferred them to wooden crates since they all didn't fit on the table below.  We let them out overnight to make sure they cooled all the way.  Jamey put in new motion-sensor lights at the back of the house to make sure no one got it in their head that they could come steal our applesauce.  Seriously.  He did.

Our grand total?  103 quart jars canned (only two jars did not seal) and 77 quarts frozen.  All but 15 quarts fit in the freezer and pantry (with some re-organization).  Grand total?  180 quarts.  I still cannot believe we made that much applesauce.  The most we've made in the past was 144 quarts.  This is more than that.  Can you tell I'm still in shock?

We owe a HUGE thank you to Jamey's parents.  Not only did they deliver our apples to us, but they worked like crazy to help us get the applesauce made.  We appreciate their willingness to help so much.  And you all wonder where we get our work ethic...:-).

Jamey figured we need to eat 3 and a half quarts of applesauce a week this year.  Knowing my children, it will not be a problem.  And, in case you're wondering, Cortland apples are incredibly sweet, so we do not add any sugar.  Also, "Red" Cortland apples make a lovely pink applesauce.  We could only get regular Cortlands this year.  We colored some of it with red raspberries and this is why some of the sauce is pink.

Make applesauce.  Check.  I love checking things off.  Pin It


  1. You have amazing in-laws :) That's a LOT of applesauce!!

  2. My in-laws used to help me make applesauce. I have great memories of those times. We didn't have a nifty outdoor canner though. That thing is amazing. What a time saver.

    If you have an exact level full bushel of fruit, with careful trimming you can figure on a yield of 20 quarts.

    Aunt V.

  3. Wow! I love this! It is so fun to see family's working together! Thanks for sharing!
    Megan Jenelle

  4. You guys are like a well oiled machine! Wow, I just blogged about what I thought was a lot of canning, but I've never done that much applesauce. Love that outdoor canner.

  5. I am so impressed- holy applesauce!! I have eyed that giant canner in the past, it is amazing and surely put to good use by serious canners!

  6. I've never seen an outdoor canner. I will have to show that to my husband. He truly is the reason I even can. He grew up canning.

    I love the look of all those jars filled with apple sauce. I wish I could find such a great deal on apples!

  7. Okay. I have officially stopped whining about the apples I have that need to be made into applesauce.

    What a herculean effort! And bless your in-laws! (Would they like to visit NE Minnesota by any chance?)

    Usually applesauce making is a project I do by myself but this year, because he has begged for more, more, more applesauce, dear hubby has volunteered to help me. (He also rounded up three more bushels of apples than I thought I would have to do.)

    Congrats . . . and no wonder your feet were throbbing the other night!

  8. I don't know if I'm more in awe of all the applesauce that was made, canned and put in containers or the dozens of cool whip containers you drummed up to store all this wonderful applesauce! Love the busy kitchen pic with Miriam inching through, too :D

  9. Hi! I'm brand new to all of this, but have just planted some beautiful broccoli starts. Once they've produced, could you tell me what the procedure is for blanching and freezing it? Thanks!

  10. bethanial11, It's very easy. Here's the link!

  11. well I'll be jiggered! That's AMAZING.

    I'd like to know more about that outdoor canner. Seriously. My husband is always talking about how to get the hot canning moved outside the house in the summer. My volume is not near what yours is, however :)

    I did one bushel of apples this year - got 22 quarts (but I think the nice girl made the baskets heaping).

  12. Margo,

    They had an Amish man make it to their specifications. Nifty, huh?

  13. That is an amazing amount of apple It is so neat that your family gets together like that...a real canning party. My wife and I are pretty impressed with your get-together, we are still working towards talking our family members into simply "trying" to eat fresh steps. You are truly blessed.

  14. I love this post- those are wonderful pictures.

  15. I want to know WHO eats all that cool whip????

  16. Dear Mavis,
    We only buy cool whip when making Ice Cream Sandwich Cake. I've just asked church folks, friends and family over the years if they'd donate their quart containers to us and they have!

  17. Love, love, love the outdoor canner. What is type of metal is it made out of? You said that your parents had it made by an amish man...where in the country does he live? Is he willing make! I was wondering on the dimensions of it and the stand and how the propane heating works..really think this is such a brilliant idea....I'd love any information you are willing to share. Blessings to you and your family!!

  18. Michelle P,
    It's my in-law's canner and it's made from stainless steel. I'm not sure of the exact dimensions, but it holds 3 quart jars by 5 quart jars with about 6 inches in height above the quart jars when it's full. It also had a tight fitting lid with a handle. I would guess any welder open to custom projects could whip one up for you:-).


Just a friendly reminder, if you know me personally please try to refrain from using my name. There are those who may try to locate me, break into my pantry and steal my pickled beets. Thanks:-).

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