It's apple time! We've been waiting for the cool Fall breezes for a while now. Our temperatures were close to a hundred right up through the end of September. We've had overcast for a few days now and I am hoping for the rain. Nothing makes our air (which can be pretty exhaust filled) smell so clean as the first good rain of Fall.
You may recall that I made homemade pectin out of green apples from my father-in-law's MacIntosh tree. I can usually make the green apple pectin sometime in June. The ripe apple harvest happens in September. I had two big grocery bags of apples on my kitchen floor for a couple of weeks. I'm lucky. These apples have such great character (flavor and aroma) that they forgave me for allowing them to get a little overripe.
MacIntosh apples are one of the great cooking apples. They are tart and sweet and cook down nicely. I decided to make apple sauce out of these apples. I read the Ball Blue Book for basic instructions, such as acidity and timing for the boiling water bath, but I did not follow their recipe. Most apples are acidic enough that you need not add anything to them to bring them to a safe PH for the boiling water bath. Even so, I love some lemon to brighten things up. Unless you burn it or allow it to spoil, it's really hard to make apple sauce taste bad. I spent about an hour coring the apples and removing any bad spots. (There were a few worms, but hey, they are healthy organic worms!) I had enough to fill my three biggest pots! To each pot, I added 1/4 cup lemon juice, 1/2 cup sugar, two cups of water, a good sprinkling of cinnamon and a dash of salt. I didn't peel the apples because I just run the cooked apples through a food mill. I think I capture some of the color and nutrients of the peel that way. (And really, who wants to peel when you don't have to?)
Here they are, cooking away. I smashed them with a potato masher to help them break down.
After about 30 minutes of simmering, they were soft enough to put through the food mill. I ended up with my big stock pot FULL of apple sauce! At this point, I put the big pot in the fridge for the night and went to bed.
The next evening, after work, I sterilized my jars and lids, prepared the hot water bath and heated up the apple sauce. This is when I tasted and adjusted for flavor. It tasted just right to me. You can always add more lemon, sugar or spice. When everything was nice and hot, I ladled into wide mouth pint jars, used a bamboo skewer to release the bubbles and processed for 20 minutes. My two brown grocery bags full of apples turned into 12 pints of apple sauce. I must say, it's really good! To make yummy apple sauce, you don't need to tackle 12 pints' worth. Even if you buy a couple of pounds of good apples at the farmers' market, you can make apple sauce by this same method and just store it in the fridge for a week or so. I bet you eat it all before you find out how long it takes to go bad!