Monday, October 19, 2009

Preserving Apples-A Tutorial

Some of you have asked how I have preserved or jarred the 70 plus pounds of apples we picked at Jaswell farms. It's not a hard process at all.
Just about any kind of apples can be used. I like the sweeter ones but tart ones work just as well if you like them and sugar can be adjusted.

Start with canning jars. These are pint size but I've also done quart size. My family can polish off a quart of applesauce at one sitting. You need the jars with screw lids and rubber seal inserts.

You also need a really big pot for the water bath and helping to seal the jars when full.

Fill the pot with enough water to cover the tops of the jars.

Throw all the jars with lids and tops into the boiling water for 20 minutes.
If you don't want to take this step you can simply run everything
through the diswasher on the sterilize cycle.
While the jars are sterilizing you can prepare your apples.
My neighbor Mary lent me this apple corer. I need to get one.

Spear the apple on the rod, push it toward the blade and crank the handle.

See how nicely it peels, cores and spiral cuts the apple?
Each apple only takes about 20 seconds to peel. A total time saver.

It's a beautiful thing.

Spiral cut and cored to perfection.

The little piece of apple with peel that is left is given to the kids for a snack or to the chickens. The chickens are quite fond of apples.

See-just pop off the core and the chickens or compost pile.

Cut the apples in half and throw them into a big pot to cook.

Add granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon and I like a bit of cloves and orange peel/rind in mine. I wish I could give you amounts but really it all depends on your taste. For the 20 pounds of apples I peeled, I used about 1/2 cup each of brown and granulated sugar and about 2 tablespoons of cinnamon, pinch of orange peel and cloves. If the apples are juicy you won't need to add extra water. If they are on the drier side then add a few tablespoons of water.
That's how my measuring goes.

Time to check on the lids and jars.

After 20 minutes of being in a boiling water bath, pull them out. I bought these handy tongs specifically for pulling out jars. I don't know how I lived without them.

When everything is pulled out of the water bath, place them on a clean towel. Keep the lids and jars facing up so that you don't contaminate the jars.

Cook the apples until they are fork tender. I like big chunks in mine and just a little bite left to them. You can puree' these if you choose but I like the chunky style.
You will need a big mouth funnel too. Don't try to do without one. It makes a mess.
Yes, I did try it with out a funnel. I was scraping syrup off my counters for days.

Ladle or spoon the applesauce into the jars.

Pack it in slightly. When full, wipe the top edge of the jar with a clean cloth to remove any syrup.
You don't want your lids sticking when it comes time to eat the applesauce. Sugar around the edge of the jar can also harbor and breed bacteria.

This tool has a magnet on one end for retrieving the lids from the boiling water bath. The other end is used to poke down the contents of the jar. You want to make sure that you poke and get out all of the air bubbles from the jars.
Airbubbles are bad and harbor bacteria. Leave about a 1/8 inch space at the top of the jar to allow for expansion. Put the lids on but not completely tight and return the jars to the water bath (with fresh boiling water). The water should just cover the tops of the jars. Let the water boil for 15 minutes with the jars in the pot.
The jars will make quite a racket as they clang together.
After 15 minutes take out the jars and screw the lids on tightly. Press down on the middle of the lid. If it pops back up then you need to water bath them longer.

Once the lids are screwed on tight, I turn them upside down on a clean towel to help keep the heat in and further seal the lids. Let these cool completely before storing. I keep mine in the extra refrigerator but it does just as well on a dry shelf. Don't forget to date the jars. They will keep up to a year under the right conditions.
If you have and extra juicy applesauce, try heating it on a stove for a few minutes and pour the mixture over vanilla icecream for a yummy treat.
It's also great mixed into some oatmeal.
This is a site I go to frequently to help with my jarring times.

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