Canning, Recipes

A weekend of Applesauce

My eyes were definitely bigger than my stomach this weekend. I went to our local market to buy apples for applesauce, and the price was so astonishingly great that I bought two bushels instead of one. Yay apples!

Apples_Bags

I spent all day Sunday (from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) making applesauce — with a little help from my older sister who was in town — and only got through one bushel. Considering it took seven hours, I don’t know when I’ll get to using the next bushel — hopefully one night this week. I think I’ll turn the remainder into apple butter. Yum!

Anyway, if you want to read about how I make applesauce or see one of the few videos I’ve made for A Smith of All Trades, check out my applesauce post from 2012. My dad, little sister and I have made applesauce each year for the past three years. After the first year and a limited supply of sauce, I started doing a batch with the family and a batch on my own. This weekend was my batch and I made 28 jars (24 quarts, 4 pints). Next weekend, the plan is to do it again with my dad. Double the help = half the production time!

Apples_Cans

In my 2012 post I shared a bunch of different add-ins for the applesauce. It is a family tradition to doctor the applesauce with things like vanilla, cinnamon red hots, brandy, candy canes — all sorts of stuff! This year, I added in fireball whisky. I’d never had it before, but our family friend suggested the cinnamon flavor would taste great in applesauce. Well, he was right. It might be my new favorite thing to add in!

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Life, Vacation

The Finger Lakes

My husband and I aren’t big travelers, but in the past two months we’ve visited Chicago, New York City, Atlantic City and the Finger Lakes in upstate New York. Oh, and I’m going to Philadelphia this weekend! So much travel!!!

Anyway, we just got back from a week in the Finger Lakes, which is a gorgeous area to visit.

If you are ever looking for a relaxing vacation, I highly recommend visiting this area, even if only for a long weekend (that might even be better than a whole week).

We started our vacation in Corning, NY, at the Corning Museum of Glass. I was pretty nervous about bringing the hubby to a glass museum, but it was pretty darn cool. The museum has a huge portion dedicated to interactive displays ranging from heat-sensitive windows to telescope lenses to walking on glass. They also had glass blowing demonstrations and a make your own glass class! It probably goes without saying that I HAD TO DO THIS CLASS! And it was awesome.

Glass blowing

Yup, she’s holding my thousands-of-degrees-hot (I think it was thousands anyway) Christmas ornament! How fancy!

After Corning, we headed to Watkins Glen, NY. We stayed in a beautiful hotel on the harbor. Look at our amazing view of Seneca Lake.

Seneca LakeHoly smokes is that amazing!

Next, we went hiking in Watkins Glen State Park, which is a gorge you can hike/walk/climb up. The views were breathtaking.

US at Watkins Glen

When we were finished hiking, we walked back to our hotel and hopped on a local boat tour of the lake. Then we hit some wineries.

GrapesWe drank A LOT of wine on vacation haha.

Us at vineyard

Day three was a day for horseback riding, which was probably my favorite part of our vacation. We rode at Painted Bar Stables with our guide Erica. She was hilarious and such a good teacher. I was nervous at first, but it was fantastic. MY horse’s name was Dozer and Brian’s horse was named Mac.

Brian and MacHe looks like a super trooper!

After horses we explored the lake before heading to our hotel for the night in Seneca Falls. The town was itty bitty with not much to do, but had a lot of beautiful buildings to look at. The old knitting mill was my favorite.

Knitting Mill

The leaves were also super beautiful here, probably because it was the northern end of the lake.

Leaves

That evening we got the treat of a lifetime. Brian and I did a six-course dinner at Belhurst Castle paired with six of their wines. The castle is right on the lake, so that was a win. AND we had two wine experts all to ourselves explaining how to sniff the wine and different ways of tasting the wine. It was pretty incredible. And did I mentioned dessert was chocolate crème brûlée? Possibly one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten!

After Seneca Falls, we headed over to Cayuga Lake. First, we stopped to go apple picking!

Us at orchard

I have always wanted to go apple picking. First of all, how novel is that. Second, the apples were SO CHEAP! I’m talking $1.15/lb. The orchard was called Beak and Skiff  and it was just too cool. They had tractor rides out to the part of the orchard you were allowed to pick in. They had a hard cider tasting room, a cafe, a bakery, an apple barn, a playground, a gift shop… they had everything!

Barn

We picked 10 pounds of apples, which I have already turned into applesauce and apple butter. YUM!

After our apple adventure, we hiked Buttermilk Falls in Ithaca, NY.

Buttermilk Falls

Seriously, upstate New York has some pretty incredible parks to hike with some amazing scenery. What we didn’t know about this hike was that the hike started as a pretty steep climb up about 300 stairs. We were so tired by the time we got to the top, but it was so worth it.

Our trip ended with a nice stay in a local bed and breakfast, a few more wineries, and a kayak excursion on Cayuga Lake.

I say it was an excursion, but it was just us. And only one of us was good at kayaking. I’ll give you a hint, it wasn’t Brian!

Kayaks

Yes folks, I love to kayak. Love love love. I can thank my dad for that! He’s taken me many times and I’m pretty darn good at it.

My hubby, on the other hand, is pretty bad. He is SO SLOW and can’t paddle straight to save his life. But he was charming with his kayaking inadequacies and it ended up being the perfect way to end our trip.

Kayaks again

We are home now and so relaxed. It really was such a great trip filled with so many wonderful activities.

Craft Projects, Holiday, Life, Recipes

Homemade Applesauce

Wow.

What a busy weekend.

Saturday was a blur. I participated in the Trash to Treasure Green Craft Fair and had a great time. A big “thank you” to those who stopped by the fair, and an even bigger “thank you” to by best friend Dana, my sister and my mom for stopping by and keeping me company throughout the day. Fairs are exhausting and having you there to help was really great.

Sunday was a blur. We made applesauce. All. Day. Long.

Seriously. Emily and I got to Dad’s house around 8:30 a.m. and immediately got to work making applesauce. We worked hard all day long, finally finishing up at 5:45 p.m. The hard work was worth it because we ended up with 72 jars of homemade deliciousness.

If you ever want to try making applesauce, I totally recommend it. It’s hard work, but it is also fun, smells amazing and tastes even better than it smells.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Apples: Duh. We used 3 bushels of apples (Two bushels of Red Delicious; One bushel of Golden Delicious) for 72 jars. Depending on how many you want to make… well, you do the math.
  • Sugar
  • Cinnamon
  • Brown Sugar
  • Alcohol: We used Brandy this year. In years past, my dad has used Amaretto. Try what you’d like. The Brandy is the bomb, though. I definitely recommend it.
  • Vanilla
  • Red Hots 
  • Candy canes 
  • Pears
  • Canned Cranberries
  • Canning jars/lids/rings
  • Pots
  • Knives
  • Apple Grinder

Making applesauce is a many-step process. First, clean your apples and take all of the stickers off. If you want some extra fun, toss your apples into the sink. It doesn’t matter if they bruise, and it is great fun throwing fruit!

It is also important to sanitize your canning jars. We ran ours through the dishwasher, but you can also boil them. Clean your rings and lids, too.

Once your apples are clean and your jars are ready to go, it is safe to start cutting up your apples. I cut my apples into quarters, slicing through the core. Then I cut out any seeds and halved the slice. Set your apples aside until you have enough to steam.

Put your apples into a pot and fill the bottom with a few inches of water. Since apples have a lot of water in them, you don’t need to fully boil them to make them mushy. A little steaming goes a long way.

For this part, we used a regular-sized kitchen pot and a larger stock pot so we could have two going at one time. Talk about efficient.

Once your apples are super mushy, it is time to put them through the apple grinder. I’m not sure if that is the official term, but if I had to hazard a guess I’d say it’s not. You get the idea though.

The “grinder” has three important parts to note. First, there is the top where you put the apples in and mash them down into the processor. You can fill the white tub all the way with apples, but be careful not to splash the water onto yourself because it is HOT! We learned this the hard way.

Next, there is the sieve where the applesauce comes out. That is the portion with the large bowl right underneath of it. Finally, above the smaller bowl is where the peels come out. This contraption is awesome and such a time saver since you don’t have to peel all of your apples!

Once we had enough apples steamed to start making sauce, we put pots and pots full of them through the grinder. A few tips: Be gentle when mashing the apples down into the processor because stuff will go flying. Also, send the peels through a couple of extra times before tossing them. You can get a little bit more applesauce out of them!

Once you have a big ol’ bowl full of applesauce, it’s time to add your extras in. We don’t measure in our family, so just add what seems right to you. It’s the Bauer way. Here are a few of the concoctions we came up with:

1. Plain Jane applesauce: Applesauce, sugar and cinnamon (We added red hots to most batches of this, too. And, sometimes we put in vanilla!)

2. Brown Sugar applesauce: Applesauce and brown sugar — hold the cinnamon

3. Boozy Sauce: Applesauce, sugar, cinnamon and Brandy (We also added red hots to this)

4. Peppermint Sauce: Applesauce, sugar, cinnamon, crushed-up candy cane and red hots

5. Holiday Boozy Sauce: Applesauce, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, Brandy, red hots and crushed-up candy canes (This one is AMAZING. Seriously, it’s so freakin’ delicious)

6. Pear Sauce: Instead of apples (or in addition to apples), do this same process with pears. Add sugar and cinnamon!

7. Cranberry Sauce: Applesauce, cranberries (send these through the grinder), sugar and cinnamon

For any of these recipes, you can sub out sugar with Splenda. That tasted great, too.

Once your applesauce is mixed up in your bowl, transfer it into a mason jar using the jar funnel and a ladle.

You can also add red hots to the top of the jar before adding your lid.

Here’s a few important things to remember. 1. Leave about an inch or so of head room at the top of your jar. Do not fill your jar to the tippy top. 2. Make sure there is no residue on the top or sides of your jar where your lid will seat or it will not seal properly. 3. As you make different batches of applesauce (one or two bowls = batch), write on the lids in permanent marker what type they are so you can tell later on.

As you are getting ready to can your applesauce, soak your sanitized lids and rings in hot water. This helps them seal to the jar.

Place your warmed lid on top of your jar, then the canning ring around it. Do not screw it on too tightly or your jar won’t seal. Then, place them into boiling water for 20 to 25 minutes.

When they’ve boiled long enough, grab your jabs using a jar grabber (again, probably not a technical term), and place them onto a drying rack or on a towel. Don’t place them directly onto a cool counter because the temperature differential could cause them to break.

Here’s the most important thing — make sure your jars actually seal! When you set them aside to cool they will often make a single popping sound as they seal. That is GREAT! How do you know if they are sealed? Well, if you can press on the lid and it moves up and down and makes a clicking sound, it isn’t sealed. A sealed lid won’t move much and will have seemingly been sucked downward into the jar. If your jar doesn’t seal properly, your applesauce will spoil. We had to re-seal a bunch of jars — definitely invest in real Ball Mason jars and lids and avoid cheap knock-offs. Our cheap lids didn’t seal well at all and we ended up redoing most of them using Ball lids instead.

Once your jars are sealed, store them until it is time to gift, gift, gift! Like I said earlier, we made 72 different-sized jars. I took home 27. SWEEEEET.

I plan on making labels for mine before I gift them to friends, family and coworkers for the holidays. I also hope to make this a family tradition each year. My Dad used to do it years ago and I finally got him to do it again this year and teach me and Em how… I really hope we keep this tradition going. I love family time and I love me some homemade applesauce.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and encourage you to check out my sweet video at the top of the post. Yes, it’s a goofy DIY by yours truly. I think it turned out pretty well!

Thanks for stopping by.

And seriously… try the Holiday Boozy Sauce. You won’t regret it 🙂