Monday, September 28, 2009

The final product

**Update: It's nearly nine months later and I'd like to note I've eaten ONE jar of this apple sauce! I can gaurantee you I won't be investing this time in this project this year.**

The final product of nearly 8 hours of canning. That's it. 8 quarts of apple sauce.

This was my first time canning so I managed to do a few things wrong. First, I didn't pick enough apples. As I was adding them to the pot of lemon-water after peeling, I had an inkling there was too much water in the pot. As they cooked down, and I pureed them with a stick blender, I turned them into apple juice. I had to run out and pick another twenty apples before it rained, then core, peel and slice them.

Note to self: when they tell you soaking cut apples in lemon juice will stop them from browning they LIE!

I started cooking apples around 3pm and was still cooking them at 6pm. I kept adding and adding apples, and sugar and cinnamon and allspice. In hindsight I won't use the 12 qt aluminum stock pot for this anymore since the bottom is thin and the apple sauce nearly burned even on medium low heat. It's better served as the hot water bath for the jars.

Speaking of jars...By 8pm I was ready to can. I'd washed all the jars and lids and rings in the dishwasher and put the lids in a pot on the stove to keep hot. I also needed to keep the jars warm, which left me in a pickle. The canner itself is a massive 22 quart pot that holds 7 jars at once for processing. You are supposed to keep the empty jars hot in another pot, dump out the hot water, ladle in the applesauce, seal and put them in the canner. I could only fit two jars in my remaining "big" pot, which meant I was constantly rotating a new jar into the pot to heat it. It wasn't terrible, but it made for a slower process time.

I wasn't able to find a jar lifter to remove the jars from the hot water bath so I used my silicon oven mitt, which after 6 years has finally shown its usefulness. It's water proof and good up to 600 degrees. It doesn't have the best grip, however, so I had to be careful not to drop the jar onto the tile floor. I also had to maneuver the jar to dump out the hot water by only grabbing the ring around the top, the only place my glove wouldn't slip.

Filling the jars was a breeze with a ladle. Then you are supposed to put on the flat lid and ring, tighten and set into the canning pot to boil. I realized about 4 jars into it that I'd put TWO lids on the jars instead of just one, so I had to remove the jars, take off the extra lid, and then reseal them.

I had all 7 jars in the canner by 8:30pm and they processed for 20 minutes in boiling water. Then you remove them and set them on a dish towel to cool. If you hear little pops, that's a good sign! All the jars vacuum sealed themselves. The last jar took the longest to do since I had to add lots of water to cover it in the pot and this took forever to boil. I think I finished it around 10pm.

And that's it. Nearly an entire day of picking, peeling, cooking, canning and boiling applesauce. There are still a gazillion apples on the trees but I am taking a break to make an apple pie now instead.

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