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Thursday, November 5, 2009

Easy Applesauce (with Juice & Vinegar, too)

I like applesauce occasionally and much prefer homemade to the stuff sold in stores. I've found that it's not that hard to do, although it is somewhat time-consuming. The recipe I'm giving below is not one for canning. If you wish to can it, please refer to your canning guide to add the appropriate amount of lemon juice to the boiling sauce before ladlling into sterilized jars and processing in the waterbath canner. (My guide says 4 tbs lemon juice per 12 pounds of apples.) You can, however, freeze this applesauce easily.

Chile's Easy Applesauce, Juice & Vinegar

Apples - a mix of tart and sweet makes a nice applesauce
Lemon juice

Put a little water in a large pan, whatever size will hold the apples when chopped.

Add a little lemon juice; this will keep the chopped apples from turning brown from oxidation. For each dozen medium to large apples, I use about a tablespoon of lemon juice.

Now comes the time-consuming part. Peel and core your apples. This really isn't hard, it just takes a while. I picked up a peeler/corer at a yard sale last year but I keep forgetting to try it out so I just do this by hand, fully processing one apple at a time. I have two containers set up next to the cutting board. One of them is for compost. The other is a large jar containing a quart of water with 1/4 cup sugar dissolved in it.

I cut the apple in half. Using a paring knife, I notch out the blossom end and stem end to remove those. Those go into the compost. Next, I cut one half into quarters. Typically I knock the seeds out with the knife tip into the compost container.

The next step is to cut the core out of each quarter and peel the apple. Those parts get dropped into the jar with sweet water in it. Each cleaned piece of apple is then cut in half or thirds and dropped in the big pot of lemon water to keep them from turning brown.

Continue until all the apples are done. I use enough water to barely cover the chopped apples in the pot, adding a little bit as I'm working if necessary. Turn the heat on under the pot and bring the water to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer until apples are tender. This only takes 10-15 minutes.

In the meantime, cover your jar of apple peels and cores in sweet water with a piece of cheesecloth, using a rubberband to hold it in place. Tuck that away in a closet and make a note on your calendar to check it in 1 week. In a week, strain this liquid into a new jar and cover it again. Compost the cores and peels. Tuck your covered jar away for 2-3 more weeks. At that point, you should have vinegar. It will be even better if you uncover it every day or so and give it a quick stir to aerate the liquid. When done, bottle and enjoy!

Once your apple chunks are tender, remove from heat. Pour through a fine strainer, capturing the liquid. Put the apple chunks in the blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Add sugar and cinnamon if desired. You're done. This is applesauce and ready to eat after it cools off. Store in the refrigerator or freezer. It will keep in the refrigerator for about a week.

Chill the liquid you saved from straining the apples. This will taste just as good, or better, than commercial apple juice.

There you have it. Easy applesauce, juice, and vinegar, too. Nothing wasted and not all that much work for how much you get out of it. 'Course you could always just eat the apples whole.


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