A great way to take advantage of local orchard apples or a bumper crop from your yard is to make applesauce, and then preserve it in one of several ways. You can freeze applesauce, prepare shelf stable product by canning applesauce, or stock up on delicious homemade snacks by making fruit leather from plain or flavored applesauce.
Apples, along with pears and quince are pome fruits—fruits that have a tough core encasing a group of small seeds. The core is surrounded by fleshy edible fruit. One pound of apples, pears, or quince is equivalent to 3 medium fruits or 1-1/2 to 2 cups sauce. Use any of these pome fruits interchangeably in the following recipes.
Basic Applesauce Recipe
• 2-1/2 pounds (7-8 medium) apples*
• 1 gallon soaking solution**
• 1/4 cup water
• 1/2 to 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice or ground cinnamon, or to taste (optional)
• 1 to 4 tbsp sugar or honey, or to taste (optional)
• salt to taste (optional)
*Some of the best apples to make applesauce are Cameo, Gala, Fuji, Jonathan, Golden Delicious, and Mutsu (Crispin).
**Prepare an acidic soaking solution to hold cut fruit and delay browning. Use one gallon water and 3,000 mgs crushed plain ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) tablets OR 4 teaspoons (5 grams) citric acid. Or, use one gallon plain apple juice.
1. Wash apples, cut into quarters, and remove the peel and core. (A countertop apple corer/peeler can be purchased for around $20; a good investment if you plan to make applesauce in quantity.) Place prepared fruit in the soaking solution, allow to soak no more than 5 minutes, and then drain in a colander.
2. Place drained fruit and water in a saucepan, cover, and cook over medium heat about 20 minutes, or until very soft. (Hard, unripe fruits or quince can take up to an hour to soften completely).
3. If spiced applesauce is desired, add pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon to taste before pureeing sauce. Using a potato masher, hand blender, food processor or stand blender, puree softened fruit until chunky or smooth, as desired. Add sweetener to taste. Some cooks also like to add a pinch or two of salt.
4. Cool, cover, and refrigerate up to 3 days. Freeze for longer storage. For shelf stable product, process in a boiling water canner. Applesauce may also be used for making fruit leather. Makes about 1 quart applesacue; recipe may be multiplied.
Recommended variations: For Quince-Applesauce, use 1/4 quince and 3/4 apples. For Pear-Applesauce, use 1/2 pears and 1/2 apples.
Three Ways To Preserve
It’s Easy to Freeze Applesauce
Make applesauce recipe and cool it thoroughly. Package applesauce in freezer-safe containers, such as freezer-safe plastic that won’t crack at freezing temperatures, canning jars or other tempered glass jars with straight rather than tapered necks that won’t crack in the freezer, or thick zipper-style plastic bags designed for freezer use. Freeze applesauce up to 12 months.
Canning applesauce in a boiling water bath canner.
Make applesauce recipe and while apples are cooking, wash pint or quart canning jars in the dishwasher and hold on a heated cycle. Alternatively, wash and rinse canning jars, fill with hot tap water, and place in a boiling water bath canner.
With or without water-filled jars in it, fill the boiling water canner about half-full with hot tap water. Place the canner over a large burner, put the lid on, and turn the heat on high. Heat the water to 180 degrees F (not quite simmering). When the water reaches the correct temperature, turn the heat down and maintain it.
Keep applesauce hot while filling hot jars; remove air bubbles and adjust headspace to ½-inch. Clean the rim and secure the lid with a screw band. Place filled jars in the canner.
Be sure jars are covered with water by at least one inch. Cover the canner and bring water to a full rolling boil over high heat and process pints for 15 minutes or quarts for 20 minutes (at 0 to 1,000 feet). After processing time has ended, turn off heat, remove canner lid and cool 5 minutes.
After cooling period, place jars at least one-inch apart on a dry towel or wood surface away from drafts. Cool the jars naturally for 12 to 24 hours.
Remove the screw band, hold the jar steady and try to lift the lid off using your fingertips. If you cannot lift the lid off by pulling on the lid, the seal is good. If jars do not have a good seal, refrigerate and use the product within 3 days.
If the jar is sealed, wipe with a clean damp cloth, including the bottom, sides, threads, and lid. If there is a lot of sticky deposit, it is sometimes easier to rinse the jar under warm running water. Dry the jar. Label each jar with the product and date (for example, “Sweetened Applesauce Oct 2015”). Store jars in a cool dry place (50 degrees F to 70 degrees F). Best used within one year.
Making Applesauce Fruit Leather
Making fruit leather is a good way to use culls, ripe fruit, slightly bruised fruit, or fruit left over from making jam or other preparations. Prepare applesauce recipe and use any of the following variations:
• Leave the peels on during cooking and puree with the fruit.
• Use little or no sweetener, since flavor concentrates during drying.
• If desired, add 1-2 tsp lemon juice while preparing the applesauce to brighten flavor of fruit leather.
• In addition to spices, finely chopped nuts, coconut, or dried fruits are another nice embellishment. To one quart applesauce, add ½ cup finely chopped toasted almonds, toasted coconut or dried cranberries. If desired, add 1/8 tsp almond, coconut, or lemon extract. Stir ingredients until well combined.
Before making fruit leather, preheat an oven or food dehydrator to 130°F to 140°F. Line the drying tray with plastic wrap or parchment paper. Spread prepared sauce 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 inch thick on the liner.
Dry for 4-8 hours, or until leather is evenly pliable and firm with no soft spots. (In humid climates, or oven drying with low circulation, drying can take two or three times as long.) Peel fruit leather from liner while still warm. Cut and roll into serving pieces. Leathers studded with solid pieces (like nuts, dried fruits, or coconut) may not roll up without breaking; cut these leathers into strips and leave flat.
Cool thoroughly before wrapping pieces individually in parchment or foil. Fruit leathers stick together; be sure to wrap individually for storage. Store in an airtight containers in a cool, dry place up to 2 months. Freeze for longer storage.
There you have it. Several ways to enjoy applesauce — frozen, canned, and dried homemade snacks—for enjoyment throughout the season. Any of these preparations can also be used for pears or quince.
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