I am loving this spring — the weather has been amazing and we are enjoying it tremendously!
It’s that time of year again when my nails are always caked in dirt from playing in my gardennnnnnn. I spent days in April enlarging my garden, like I do every year. I have two main areas that I plant in every year, plus my berries! This year, I expanded both of my beds and it didn’t take long to fill the extra space — I already don’t know how I got by without it last year. Annnnnd, no surprise, I already have plans to make next years larger, too. I have a real problem!
This year, I planted tomatoes, eggplant, squash, zucchini, lettuce, spinach, potatoes (sweet, white & blue), onions, peppers (bell & spicy), cantaloupe, watermelon and a few more strawberry plants. I’m probably forgetting a few things, too!
Brian and I also lined all of the beds with new landscape timbers and mulched the berry beds. It’s been a lot of work, but so worth it.
Now I just have to be patient and wait for everything to grow. That’s the hard part of gardening — patience!
In other news, I chopped off all of my hair 🙂
It’s a different sort of before & after for my blog, but here ya go!
And 10-inches later….
I’m donating my long locks to Pantene Beautiful Lengths. My new hair feels so much better — and just in time for the warm weather!
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.
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.
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 🙂