Halloween has come and gone. And whether we are willing to admit to it or not, winter is headed our way. If only there was a way to bottle our favorite fall flavors so we can enjoy them all-year-round. Well, now you CAN! (no pun intended)
Easy, cost-effective, and not to mention eco-friendly, there are many reasons to can your own food. But how do you preserve the tastes and smells of fall to last you through Chicago’s long winter months? If you’ve never done it before, you might be astonished at just how simple it actually is. To get you started, here is a recipe for making and canning your own applesauce.
Mason jars – glass jars with metal screw-on lids
Food processor or potato masher
Boiling water canners – a basic kitchen device featuring a large pot with a wire or metal rack that can hold your mason jars when you put them in boiling water. This allows you to safely sterilize your canned foods by killing any bacteria that might be on the jars or their lids. If you don’t have one of these, no need to go out and purchase one, you can make your own boiling water canner.
3 – 3½ lbs. of apples per quart of apple sauce
Water (apple cider or even apple juice can also be used)
Optional ingredients: sugar, cinnamon (ground or sticks), nutmeg, cloves, all spice, vanilla beans (split and seeded), lemon peels, lemon juice, etc.
1 Wash your apples thoroughly. Cut into quarters, and remove the core. If you prefer, you may peel the apples now. However, leaving the skins on will add additional flavor and color, and they are just as easy to remove later on, as the skins will naturally separate from the flesh as they cook down.
2Place apples into a large pot with enough water (or apple cider) so that they do not stick together. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened. The water will evaporate as you cook the apples, so make sure you have enough water in the pot so that your apples do not burn.
3 Fish the skins out with tongsand puree apples in a food processor or crush with potato masher until smooth or desiredconsistency.
4 Return to pan and bring to a boil.
Add sugar and spices to taste. If you accidentally sweeten it too much, a squeeze of lemon juice can help balance the flavor.
5 While still boiling, ladle sauce into hot jars, leaving a ½ inch of headspace.Remove air bubbles, wipe the rims clean, and apply the two-piece lids.
6 Process in your boiling water canner (15 minutes for pints and 20 minutes for quarts).After time has elapsed, remove and place on a towel-lined countertop.
*Applesauce can be kept in storage for up to one year.