A is for Apple….and Applesauce!

Goodness, it’s been a LONG time since my last post!  I really should just assemble a month’s worth of my Windy Field Farms Facebook page posts and publish them here, once in a while, when I’m too busy (or tired) to write a full blog.  I’ve had lots to write about, but didn’t seem to actually get around to doing so.   Anyhow, here we are!

While out on an evening bike ride last week, I saw how many apples were on the trees in fence rows and in roadside trees.  Some of these trees were just loaded!  Judging by how many were laying on the ground and starting to get eaten by insects and rodents, I realized that no one was going to be picking them….so I did.  I grabbed 3 or 4 sturdy cardboard boxes from home, and went out to see what I could find.  Within an hour, and within a 3 minute drive of our farm, I picked seventy pounds of apples.  Yes, that’s right, 70!  And what made me especially grateful was that although the first two trees I picked had many small and tart apples, the last one was a Cortland – or an heritage variety very similar to it.  cortland

As I started to wash and chop these apples at home, I became aware of the second amazing thing.  There were very few apples that had insect damage (beyond a slight foray down the stem, into the seed cavity).  The fruit was beautifully unspoiled.  Again, these are “wild” trees that are not sprayed nor pruned regularly, and yet they produced such a bounty.

After washing, the smaller, tart apples were processed in my juicer and will be turned into some hard cider for the winter.   We made hard apple cider two years ago, quite successfully, so we’re looking forward to enjoying it again.

Because the Corlands were so beautiful and a good size, I decided to make apple sauce out of them.  For those of you who have never made your own apple sauce……what are you waiting for?  It is SO simple, once you make your own, you will never buy apple sauce at aDSCN0740 store again!  I was curious about what can show up in store-bought sauce, so I did a bit of research.  Surprise, surprise….more than just apples.  The sauce I make has apples, a bit of organic lemon juice, organic cane sugar and organic cinnamon.  Some brand name varieties include the ubiquitous “natural flavours”, high fructose corn syrup,  which can double the number of calories (and you can bet that’s GMO corn syrup), artificial colours and artificial flavours.  Yuck!

The first step to making your own delicious apple sauce, is to wash all the fruit.  Discard any wormy or bruised apples.

Next, chop the fruit into quarters, and remove the stem and seeds with a parng knife.  Do not peel the apples.  Leaving the skin on gives a nice rosy colour to the sauce.  Also, you don’t have to get every last seed, as these will be removed in a later step.DSCN0749

Put the chopped apples into a large pot, making sure to leave some room for bubbling and stirring.  Add a little bit of water to the pot.  This will help prevent the apples from sticking to the bottom or burning before they start to cook and get mushy.  I also add a splash of lemon juice at this point.  Cook on medium heat, stirring constantly (especially in the beginning, as you don’t want them to burn).  As the apples cook down, they will be easier to stir and less likely to burn.  Depending on how many apples you are cooking, the time will vary.  You want the apples softened up, so that you can mash them easily with a fork.

Once cooked, remove from heat and process through a food mill.  These are available at most hardware stores, especially at this time of the year.  I’ve had mine for over twenty five years, and it’s a wonderful “gadget” to have.  You basically put the softened apples in the mill, crank the handle (reversing occasionally, to clear the skins out) and the pureed apples go through the sieve, while the seeds and skin remain on top.  Easy peasy.  This is always a great job to have your “little helpers” do.   If young children are helping, however, please make sure that the apples have cooled down completely, so that there is no risk of them getting burned from any mishaps.

Next, add sweetener, if you choose.  You can use sugar, maple syrup, honey (but that does change the flavour a bit), or stevia, to name a few options.  I like to give a generous shake of cinnamon, and you can also add nutmeg.

If you are freezing the apple sauce, you can do so at this point.  It will keep indefinitely in the freezer, if you put it in freezer grade containers.  If you are putting it in jars, bring it to a boil, ladle into hot, sterilized jars, and process them in a hot water bath for about 20 – 25 minutes.   Prepared this way, jars will remain fresh for 2 – 3 years, in your pantry (not that it ever lasts that long at our house!

See, I told you it was simple!  Farmers’ markets and pick your own orchards have delicious, local apples for sale, if you can’t forage any of your own.  Unfortunately, there aren’t many organic apple growers, but some smaller farmers are very careful to use minimum pesticides.  Talk to your growers, and get the information you want.  Happy saucing!

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Becky on September 14, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    i cook my apples down in the crockpot. Growing up once apples started coming in we always kept the electric turkey cooker going with it loaded full of apples. But we lived out in the country with a bunch of apple trees so it wasn’t uncommon to make 200-300 jars of apple butter, apple sauce etc… For those who want the ease of cooking apples without the constant stirring, crockpot is the way to go…put them in first thing in the morning, go to work etc and they are done that night…Works for tomatoes too 🙂

    Reply

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