I just got a whole box of apples from my preserving share CSA. I love the smell of apples roasting. I also love making applesauce — but this year my apple trees floundered. Sometimes here in Colorado we get a late frost after the apple blossoms are out, and there goes the crop . . .thank goodness for the CSA.
The apples on my own trees are small, and peeling and coring them the way I’ve seen applesauce made would take forever. So I quarter them, and roast them in my electric roaster. It’s really simple.
Fill the roaster to the top with quartered apples. Pour in 2 cups of water or cider — just to keep the apples from sticking. The apples will make enough liquid on their own, but be sure to put on the lid securely or it will all steam out. Turn the roaster to 275 degrees, and let it roast for several hours.
Now is the time to take a break, plot out what you’d like to do with the rest of those apples . . . apple butter maybe? apple pie? apple crisp? When the apples are soft, turn off the roaster and get back to work! The apples have probably shrunk to almost half their original volume. They might not look pretty, but they’ll make pretty stupendous applesauce!
Set a food mill over a pot. Spoon the cooked apples into the food mill. Grind the cooked apples through the mill. Save the discards for the compost (or your chickens!).
When all the apples have been passed through the food mill, stir in cinnamon to taste. No sugar is needed.
If you don’t roast long enough, it will be hard to work the food mill, so roast until the apples are falling apart, and then, if your food mill has different size disks, use a coarse disk first. Remill if you like with the medium disk (which is specified for applesauce). The first milling gets out the stems, skins and cores. The second milling catches anything that didn’t get strained out the first time.
It’s easy to can applesauce. Heat the applesauce until it starts bubbling, but stir so that it doesn’t burn on the bottom of the pot. If the applesauce seems too thick, add cider or water at this point, and then make sure you bring it up to a boil. If you add cider it may add a little sweetness too. Choose your apples with care — a mix of different flavors, and you’ll have a very tasty sauce and maybe not need to add any sugar at all (I don’t). Then spoon through a funnel into hot canning jars. This recipe made 16-18 pints. Put on hot seals and rings.
Process pints in a hot water bath for 20 minutes at sea level, 30 minutes at 5000 feet. If you’re making a whole batch (22 quarts in my roaster pan) then it should make enough that you have to process in two batches. Your whole kitchen will smell like apple pie. Or just absolutely the best applesauce!