Update to original post – I went back to my method of partially cooking my chunky applesauce on the stove top, and then canning it. Perfection!
To each 5 quart saucepan of cut up apples, I added 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar, and cinnamon, nutmeg & vanillla to taste. I cooked the apples on medium heat just until the mixture started to bubble. I removed the pans from the heat and stirred the pot!! Just to incorporate the uncooked apples with the cooked pieces. I covered the pans while I finished preparing my jars and lids.
I processed these in my pressure canner for 10 minutes at 5 pounds pressure. I process almost everything in my pressure cooker, I use less water, and it takes less time.
The dark jar is some of the apple butter that was made from the peels and cores.
If someone asked me what apple would be best for a homesteader just starting out, I would have to say, Yellow Transparent. I know it won’t win any prizes for keeping until May, or holding up firmly in pie. But, it is disease resistant, sets fruit at a young age, bears every year, is the first apple to ripen, and is very tart which makes it a good cooking and eating apple. All those attributes make it a very good selection for someone interested in self-reliance.
However, it is often discarded as a mushy, old time apple. Sure, if you wait until it is dead ripe to pick it – but I would think any fruit or vegetable past its prime would be tasteless too. The key is harvesting when the apples are still light green, just beginning to get a yellow tinge.
I harvested all the apples on the Yellow Transparent in our yard/orchard this week. Depending on your location, Yellow Transparent may ripen in July for you, for us it is early August. This apple is very fragrant and brings the deer in – and they relish apples after carrots and beans, so I make sure I remove the temptation.
I usually start out with grand ideas when I start to preserve something – most of the time it works out, and sometimes not. This time is in between, and here is how the experiment went.
And before you start shaking your head or getting worried about people who mix canning and experimentation. Just know this, jams and jellies are a gateway drug – once you get hooked there is no turning back ;)
First I was going to make my moms chunky applesauce, because I really can’t stand the pablum-like, food mill style applesauce. I do make some with the food mill if we have small apples that are a pain to peel, but most of that ends up in applesauce cake or something of that nature.
A dream meal for me is mashed potatoes, gravy, pork roast and chunky applesauce! So with pork roast on my mind I began peeling these nice large apples.
Next they went into their salt water bath to prevent them from darkening while I worked my way through the first box.
Mild salt solution: 1½ teaspoon salt per quart of cold water.
Then I cored and quartered the apples, putting them back in the salt water bath as I worked. At this point my mind began wandering, and I kept thinking about a canned apple pie filling recipe I had somewhere… . In the recipe, the apples are sliced and mixed with a huge amount of sugar and left overnight to release their juice. I had tried this before, and we could not stomach the sweetness, even though the recipe calls for the addition of lemon juice. To me it seemed a waste to take a tart apple and add too much sugar, and then add lemon juice to try to recreate what was there in the first place. So the ‘ol brain started creaking, and lurched into gear – maybe I could use less sugar, but still let the apples sit overnight and then can the results. I still wanted chunky applesauce, but I was trying to get out of cooking it and then canning it. I just wanted to can it in the jars, since these are not the firmest of apples I was hoping this would work.
Let me say here, experimenting with canning fruits is safe. Fruits are high acid, and will just spoil or ferment, and it will be apparent, so there isn’t the danger factor of vegetables, tomatoes, and meat products. Do not experiment with recipes for those types of foodstuffs. Please.
My next step was to cut the apples in chunks, and add my other ingredients.
In a large mixing bowl of diced apples: (I used a 3½ quart)
2 cups sugar
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 T vanilla
Stir all ingredients together, cover and let sit overnight to allow the apples to release their juice.
Here is where things started to go awry. The next morning, (ominous music in background) pack sterilized jars with apples. Heat the apple juice and pour over fruit.
When I can I always have a smaller jar on hand, because I never just end up with an exact amount. So for this batch, I had 5 quarts of diced apples and 1 pint. Because I was going to can these in my pressure canner, I left about a 2″ headspace to allow for expansion. I called a canning partner in crime, and we discussed the pros and cons of my messing with the recipe and when I got off the phone and looked at those jars, I decided to unpack the pint and put a just a little more in each quart. Mistake – I knew it might be, but sometimes, well all the time, I have to learn the hard way. Once that canner is closed, there is no turning back, the next time I would see my “apple whatever” would be when the pressure was down, and I could experience the moment of truth.
A watch gauge never drops fast enough.
Mea Culpa! See the applesauce blurping down the side of the jar? That means I did overfill the jars, and when the cool contents expanded during the canning/cooking process, the pressure forced the contents out of the jar.
Why am I telling you all this? Because I want you to know that it is OK to experiment a little after you have a few seasons of canning under your belt. And that even veteran canners make mistakes, and are still alive to laugh about it.
Next box, I am going back to my moms method and I will cook it first and then can it, and when I do that I will let you know how it turns out. Meanwhile, I will mark these 5 jars with a notation to use first, since I will need to watch their seals because of the liquid being forced from the jars.
Since I am supposed to post at another blog today, I have wrote about what I did to glean almost every last drop of usefulness from these homegrown apples there.
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