There is something you should know about me. I'm cheap. I can't help it. It's in my blood. Honest. Ask anyone that knows my family. I come from a long line of thrifty, resourceful, savers (ok, maybe even some borderline hoarding but we'll cover that another day). So why wouldn't I be any different? My mantra as a child was "a penny saved is a penny earned". Talk about a whimsical childhood!
Not much has changed since then. I clip coupons. I balk at paying more then $3 for a shirt. I drive 10 miles to save two cents a gallon on gas. I buy oatmeal in bulk. Yep, I have issues.
Earlier this week I began my yearly quest for applesauce. The past few years I have peeled and processed all of my applesauce by hand. A tedious, time consuming project that always ended with me frustrated with my productivity level. This year I decided it was time. Time to bite the bullet and cough up the money to buy a food mill/strainer. Surprisingly, I was only required to part with $54.00 of my hard earned money to add this work horse to my collection. I always thought this was a wildly expensive piece of equipment only purchased if you were attempting to reenact Little House on the Prairie.
Meet the Victorio Food Strainer and Sauce Maker. I cranked out sixteen quarts of applesauce with this beauty in one afternoon. SIXTEEN QUARTS! I don't think I've made that much applesauce in the past three years combined. I always end up hoarding my precious stash like it's made from the last apples on planet earth. Or like my Easter candy as a child (c'mon, you didn't hoard your Easter candy? I mean, you had to wait a whole YEAR until it rolled around again! I had some pretty serious rationing going on. Tell me I'm not alone on this. Please?). No more hoarding. Just pure, unadulterated applesauce bliss.
The process is so simple. Almost to simple. No peeling needed (the cheapo part of me is doing the happy dance about this...virtually no waste!). Just wash your apples, cut them in fourths, remove any large stems and boil them down. When you run them through the mill all of the seeds and skin will be strained away. Then you can can it, freeze it or refrigerate it if you plan on eating it right away. I canned mine because I have limited freezer space.
When selecting your apples it's best to use a variety instead of just one kind. I always buy "seconds" from the orchard which are usually a mixed bag to start with. Stay away from Granny Smith or any other sour varietys. The idea is to not add much or any sugar.
Plan on 3 lbs of apples per quart. Most canners hold 7 quarts so to do a canner load you will need 21 lbs. Wash and quarter the apples removing any large stems that might damage the screen of your food mill. Place in large stock pot with one cup of water (to keep apples from sticking/burning) and a cinnamon stick (if desired). I used two large stockpots to speed the process up, but if you only have one just repeat as needed. Depending on your stove/the size of the pot/the apple variety it could take anywhere from 15 to 40 mins to cook the apples. I start out at medium heat and then adjust (down) as needed. Keep an eye on them, stirring occasionally. Once they have cooked down and have a good "give", meaning they are soft and falling apart, remove the cinnamon stick and run them through your mill. If you will be canning, return the sauce to the pot and keep at a low simmer until ready to can. Pay close attention to the finished sauce because it will burn or stick easily. And watch out for splatters and pops! This stuff is deadly hot. Add sugar to taste but if you used sweet apples you probably won't need any. I added about 1/4 cup to the entire batch. Process quarts and pints for 20 mins in a boiling water bath or allow to cool and freeze.
As always, if you are new to canning please research the basics to ensure a safe product.
Apple season is in full swing in the North East. How about where you live? And what do you typically pay for apples? The cheapo in me wants to know.