Verses

So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Galatians 6:9

Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished! Luke 1:45

Monday, August 27, 2012

Monday's Menu

Several years ago, I began to look into canning. I even attended a class given by a friend. But I came to the conclusion that, in order for it to be worthwhile for us, I would need a very cheap source of the fruits and veggies we ate.

We are not really jelly or jam eaters. In fact, I am about the only one who does eat it. And then it is pretty much only grape jelly on my scrambled eggs (yes, I know its weird but I would think you know that about me by now).

We do, however, go through massive amounts of spaghetti sauce and there are a few fruits (especially now that Rugrat has joined us) and vegetables that I would like to preserve.

So, I put aside my canning research to look into gardening. A garden is exactly that -- a cheap source of fruits and vegetables. I began looking at our yard and checking into what would be needed to grow what we would eat. I even experimented with a few different plants. If you look back through the history of the posts, you could probably even pick up on that journey with me.

My little successes eventually led me to looking back into canning. I even ordered several supplies about 3 or so years ago. They included a Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving -- essentially the Bible of the canning world (which is where today's recipe comes from) .

Just as I was getting ready to step back into the world of canning, however, we found ourselves jumping into another better adventure... one known as Rugrat. And then we moved.

So, I had to redo. Figuring out gardening in this new environment. Fortunately, we were ready to go this time which led to our planting tomatoes, apple trees, herbs, and strawberry plants and planning for pecan trees, blueberry bushes, and a whole slew of vegetables.

I figured I'd eventually get back to experimenting with canning. However, when we came home from my mom's house, we carried with us a 5-gallon bucket full of apples from their tree.

One of the things I buy frequently for Rugrat is applesauce. She loves it. So I was presented with a prime opportunity. And I took it.


This was my experimental batch. After making the second batch, I managed to get 11 jars plus a little extra that just went into a bowl in the fridge to be eaten first. That also doesn't include my first try at applesauce, made in a crockpot. It turned out fine but I didn't have instructions for canning it.

I am really happy with myself for getting this down. And there's a special sense of pride in knowing you've mastered it (especially after spending so long looking into it). I love seeing those jars sitting in my pantry. And I'm excited to try some other things.

Don't check out yet though if you aren't interested in canning applesauce. As I said, this recipe worked just fine putting it straight into the fridge (and probably also the freezer) so you could certainly make some up without canning it. This first batch I made used only 3 pounds of apples. I simply divided the recipe the appropriate amount.

To keep the color, prepare a bowl of 4 cups water to 1/4 cup lemon juice. As you peel and quarter the apples, drop them into the mixture. You can rinse them later when all done but this will help them look right and help them to have the right acidity.

Note: If you are interested in canning and preserving food, please do your research or at the very least have someone who is experienced help you until you feel confident in the process. Here is one place to learn a little more about it. 

One other note... if you do can them, make sure to keep the lemon juice in the recipe. I left out the sugar. I usually buy unsweetened applesauce and these apples were certainly sweet enough on their own. If the apples are a tart variety, you might want to add part or all of the sugar. However, the lemon juice is what makes it possible to water-bath-can this applesauce.

Try it out. Not only do you get a good for you product whose contents you are both aware of and responsible for but you also get a sense of pride and self-sufficiency that can't be beat.





Applesauce

12 pounds apples, peeled, cored, quartered, treated to prevent browning and drained
3 cups sugar (optional)
4 Tablespoons lemon juice

If canning, prepare canner, jars, and lids.

In large saucepan, combine apples with just enough water to prevent sticking. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring occasionally, until apples are tender. Remove from heat and cool slightly, about 5 minutes.

Working in batches, transfer apples to food mill or food processor with metal blade and puree until smooth.

Return apple puree to saucepan. Add sugar if desired. Add lemon juice and bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.

To can, maintain applesauce at a low heat while filling jars. Ladle applesauce into hot jars, leaving 1/2-inch headroom. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace if necessary. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Screw band onto jar until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip tight.

Place jars in canner rack, ensuring completely covered by water. Bring to a boil and process for 20 minutes. Remove canner lid. Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool and store.

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