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I asked Dave what I should call this post, and he immediately said, “How Saucy They Are!” Because Ari has been saying that, quoting General Sherman, ever since he wrote a paper about Kennesaw Mountain and the Civil War two years ago. Oh, Sherman: such a quotable guy. So I put it in there, even though it has nothing to do with this applesauce, really, and even though it meant I needed this whole paragraph explaining things. Apples are saucy. Much like the Confederates, apparently.
For a few years, pre-Abe, we did a great job of going every year to an orchard up in the mountains, buying a million apples, and making a ton of applesauce. I thinks some years we made as much as 50 or 60 jars. We didn’t make that much this year. But we did manage to make it up for some apple picking a couple of weeks ago:
Also, you could milk a cow:
We picked some apples, but it’s much cheaper (and faster) to buy bags of the pre-picked ones, so we supplemented what we picked ourselves with a half bushel of Granny Smith apples and a half bushel of…some red kind. We brought them all home thinking the rest of October was going to be crazy busy, so we’d just stick them in the basement and get around to making sauce out of them sometime in November. But it turned out they were a little riper than we had hoped, and it was clear we’d end up with a bushel of rotten apples if we stuck with that plan. So we stuffed a couple of sessions of applesauce making into the weekend before Halloween and felt like superheroes. Superheroes with applesauce.
Our “recipe” for applesauce is so simple that it is, literally, apples. We don’t add anything else, although it might be fun to play around with that sometime. We always use a mix of at least three different kinds of apples, and we use Granny Smith for about a third of the mix, but you might want all sweet apples depending on how you like your applesauce. Ours comes out a little tart, but we like it that way.
The main reason I wanted to post about making applesauce (you know, aside from so I’d have an excuse to quote Civil War generals and post pictures of cows) was so I could tell everyone about the greatest attachment ever invented for the KitchenAid mixer:
It’s the food grinder with fruit and vegetable strainer, and it’s the only attachment we use for our mixer with any regularity (we also have the ice cream maker, which is fun and all, but it’s sort of a lot of trouble, we’ve found, relative to how much ice cream it makes and to how much ice cream costs at the store. But this thing is a huge time and labor saver for making applesauce. The idea is you stuff the apples in there–skin, seeds, and all–and it takes out everything you don’t want and leaves you with applesauce. It’s magical. We use it for saucing tomatoes, too. Probably we should figure out some other things to use it for, but so far just tomatoes and apples. We’ve had it for years and years, and it’s held up great to many huge batches of apples and tomatoes.
But if you don’t have a Kitchenaid mixer, never fear! Cassie, over at Primitive and Proper, is posting about applesauce making today, too, and she’s sharing a different, mixerless method. Go check it out!
Okay, so here’s how we make applesauce:
Get a bunch of apples: Like I said before, we don’t worry much about what kinds we get; we just mix a few different ones together, and make sure Granny Smiths are in there somewhere. I just looked it up for you, and found an estimate that a bushel of apples makes about 12-15 quarts of applesauce. You can make any amount you want, obviously, but that will give you an idea of how many to start with.
2. Set aside an afternoon: Plan to spend a good 3-4 hours on this, if you’re going to be canning at the end. It’s not all hands on time, but you’ll be stuck in the house for awhile.
3. Wash your apples and then cut them up: Our apple cutter thingie broke after a few apples, so we wound up cutting them up with a knife. You don’t have to worry about peeling or coring; just cut each apple into six or eight pieces and toss it in the pot:
4. Get a big pot, put about an inch of water in the bottom, and toss the apple slices in: We use the same canner we use for the water bath later. It’s only $20 on Amazon, it comes with rack for the jars, and Dave also uses it when he makes beer. Such a bargain! We fill the pot pretty much up to the top. It holds a lot of apples. Start them out on high and then turn the heat down to medium once the water starts boiling. Cook them until they’re nice and soft; it’s not an exact science. We’ve never managed to make an inedible batch.
5. Put the cooked apples through the food grinder: The fun part! You just scoop the apples up and put them into the top part of the mixer attachment and push them down into it with the handy tool it comes with. Kids like this part:
You need one bowl to catch applesauce and then another container to catch the neat little package of seeds and skin it spits out:
One trick we’ve learned is to take all the stuff it spits out and run it through one more time. You can squeeze a good bit more applesauce out the second time through.
And then you’re finished!
Except that, unless you made a very small batch that you can eat within a few days, you’ll need to can your sauce. I’m not going to tell you how to do that, because if you mess it up and get botulism you might sue me. Also because it’s really easy information to find elsewhere. Basically you’re going to be putting the applesauce in jars and then boiling them for awhile. We use this guide.