Like many Maine folks, we are enjoying a bumper crop of apples this year. My husband has harvested 40 bushels from the Barbour Farm orchard for cider, and last week, I picked over 50 pounds of Red Baron and Sweet 16 apples at Wulf Orchard in Unity. The apple trees lining the roads are heavy with orbs of yellow, red and striped fruit that will be feeding the deer all winter.
Some varieties of apples, like the russets, Belle de Boskoop and Black Oxford, will keep in the root cellar until spring. Other varieties are best for baking or fresh eating. Apple variety tasting is a fun adventure for the whole family. The best way to enjoy the over 200 varieties of Maine apples all year is to make applesauce.
Processing apples for sauce has been done for generations, and requires a small investment in some basic equipment. A large kettle or pot, heat-safe canning jars, a funnel, and a jar lifter are basic tools that can be found at many supermarkets and hardware stores.
The canning process involves placing foods in jars and heating them to a temperature that destroys the microorganisms that cause foods to spoil. While it is an excellent, shelf-stable, low energy method to preserve food, there are certain guidelines for preparation, packing and processing to achieve a wholesome, safe, canned food product.
The major cause of food spoilage is microbial growth, thus canning is a food preservation method that uses heat to destroy these microorganisms. While the canning process destroys most potentially harmful microorganisms, Clostridium botulinum, which causes the often-fatal disease botulism, is able to grow without oxygen, and thrives where there is low acid available. In food preservation, a food with a ph of 4.6 or lower is considered to be high acid.
Because apples are a high acid fruit, the preparation of applesauce is simple and easy to do at home. Gather your tools and equipment, select your apples, and set aside some time to enjoy the bounty that surrounds us.
MAINE APPLESAUCE IN A JAR
- 10 pounds apples 1 ½apples yields about 1 pint of applesauce
- 6 1-pint canning jars or. 3 1-quart canning jars
- Wash and scrub apples, cutting off blemishes and scabs.
- Cook in a large, non-reactive pot until soft. If necessary, add some water to keep the apples from sticking.
- To remove the skins and seeds, press through a food sieve or food mill (or you may peel and core the apples before cooking)
- Spoon sauce into jars, leaving ½ inch headspace.
- Run a knife through the jarred sauce to remove air bubbles.
- Tighten lids. Process in a boiling water bath, 15 minutes for pints and 20 minutes for quarts.