Saturday, November 12, 2011


A couple of years ago my mom got me a canning kit for Christmas.  I was so excited.  I felt so domesticated.  And then yes I felt a little old too but really I was just super excited about being able to preserve food that was grown locally, and to make some fabulous baby food.

One of my favorite and easiest things to can is applesauce.  I grew up on homemade applesauce and I've never been a fan of the store bought stuff.  The taste is just so different when you've had homemade applesauce.  It's remarkable. So that is a warning that your kiddos may turn into applesauce snobs, which I would argue there are much worse things. 

This year I canned two bushels of apples for applesauce. I have quite the pantry full of applesauce.  I am guessing we will go through it much quicker than I can imagine.  I've been doing more and more of my baking with applesauce.  I love this because I don't add sugar to my applesauce and then I use that pure applesauce to baked goodies so that I can eliminate most or all of any granular sugar.  My girls love muffins and homemade breads and I love making them as healthy and wholesome as possible. For me, part of that process is eliminating or at least radically decreasing as much sugar as possible. Applesauce makes an awesome sweetener to bake with.  It does take a little experimentation but it does work.

Our homemade applesauce also makes a fabulous snack around our house.  There are ways to add some extras to make it a more hearty snack.  A few fun additions are cinnamon, nutmeg, ground flax seed or chopped walnuts or pecans.  Applesauce also makes a wonderful baby food.  Can it in smaller jars or even freeze it in ice cube trays for smaller portions.  I used to add a little applesauce to baby food purees my girls weren't wild about or willing to eat otherwise.  I often added it to a squash puree.  I've also added it to green purees if they were have a day of turning their noses up to it.  (kale, spinach, broccoli, swiss chard...).  I was willing to sweeten it a bit to at least get the greens into them!

My one suggestion with making applesauce is that you find the "cleanest" local apples possible to can.  Apples rank as one of the top foods that are heavily sprayed.  Even though were into November, most orchards have plenty of apples stored up that are still for sale.  If you are in Grand Rapids, check out Wells Orchards.  They have great prices and do a farming practice called Integrated Pest Management.  I've been getting my apples there the last few years and they are always very delicious and I feel pretty clean. Apples are hard to grow organic and I have to remember it's also about the local farmers livelihood and they are doing the best they can. Sprays are expensive.  They'd really prefer not to have to do them either but they also are counting on that income.  I think Wells has a really great balance and uses really natural processes but isn't certified organic, which I'm personally fine with.  Have a conversation with the folks at the orchard and ask questions.  It's great to know whose hands have been loving your food before it gets to you.


It really is quite simple.  I washed my apples.  Then I cored them with my little hand held corer I bought a few years ago at Bed Bath & Beyond.  I left skins on and tossed them into a stock pot with a little bit of water in the bottom.  I put the lid on and let steam for a few minutes.  I stir them a few times.  The apples will start to soften a bit. 

Next I just put them in the blender and happily blended away until a nice apple sauce consistency happened. 

****Now I will put a disclaimer that recently my hubs came home with a surprise vitamix (seriously that may have won him hubs of the year award!) and that thing can pulverize anything very quickly.  So with that said it didn't take long for applesauce to happen and I didn't worry to much about how soft my apples were.  BUT I have done applesauce this way for years and always used my regular blender or food processor.  You may just have to play a bit with how soft you need the apples to be and how long you need to blend.****  

Next step was to put the applesauce in a large stock pot or bowl to really blend all the batches and flavors together.  By the end of my applesauce making adventures I just poured right from the blender into the jars and it was just as great.  So up to you how much work you want to do!

 Final step was to put jars in the canning pot and process (cook) for 20 minutes. 

There you have it.  Homemade sugar-free applesauce from a local orchard.  Much cheaper than store bought organic variations and well worth the work because the taste is unbelievable!

****Spices can be added to the applesauce in blender to make spiced variations (think nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves).  I personally like to do mine plain and then it has a lot more variety and options for cooking and baking with.  We will sometimes open a jar of applesauce and warm it over the stove on low with a combo of spices. Let's just say delicious!  ****

1 comment:

  1. So you've totally inspired me. I too love Well's and may just have to make a trip out there for a bushel. I also LOVE that you kept the skins on. I think this inspires me the most as it cuts the work load down hugely. So grateful for my Vitamix as I am sure it is smooth even with the skins on.
    Thanks Jen!