Sunday, August 29, 2010

Applesauce and Apple Jelly!

My aunt L gave me this big box of beautiful Gravenstein apples from her tree. Her tree has made so many apples this year, it's just crazy. My own apples won't come in for another 3-4 weeks, but hers have been going strong for a while now. She has an equally big box of beautiful and perfect apples, but these are the buggy and blemished ones, perfect for cooking into applesauce!

Naughty little Dottie Bonkers sniffing the apples...

The first step is to prepare the apples. Preferably with a good TV show or NPR or a fancy podcast to entertain you. Peel and core the apples, cutting out any wormy or rotten bits. I ended up with a huge pot full of apples, a small bowl of icky bits, a big bowl of nice peels and cores, and still a fair number of apples in the box, as you can see!

Here are my pretty peels and cores. This year, I decided to do something I've been wanting to try for a long time - make Apple Peel Jelly in addition to my applesauce. A new culinary adventure is always a thrill ride, and the Apple Peel Jelly ended up being a bit of an ups and downs roller coaster!

The pot is totally full of innocent little apple chunks, ready & waiting to turn into applesauce.

On the stovetop. Add in a little bit of water to the bottom of the pan (no more than 3/4", with the apples in there). Turn the heat to medium-high, stirring occasionally, and cook until the apples soften. I sometimes add in a little bit of cinnamon &/or a dash of maple sugar, but this time I went for straight-up 100% apples.

Meanwhile, in another big pot, boil your jars and lids.

Once the apples are all soft, I use a potato masher to mash them up. These Gravenstein apples really mashed into such a light and creamy texture - perfectly classic applesauce! The apples off my tree make a chunky applesauce, which is also good, but less traditional. Isn't it beautiful!?

Canning Tip #1: if you are interested in canning, get some canning tongs. They are totally awesome and make the job much easier and safer. I like how easy it is to pour off the boiling water when removing the empty jars with these tongs. This used to be a fairly un-nerving task with my old regular kitchen tongs.

Canning Tip #2: Also, get a canning funnel. This thing RULES THE WORLD. My awesome friend JJTWH gave me this years ago, and I love it like a first-born. Just look and see how easy it is to pour huge heaping scoops of boiling hot applesauce into a little jar!!

End result: lots of beautiful jars of applesauce. I made some small ones and some medium-sized ones. The small ones will be great for baking recipes when I want to sub out some oil for applesauce, without having to open a big jar of applesauce.

Meanwhile, I was also working on Project Apple Peel Jelly: here's my big pot of apple peels and cores cooking up...

After about 45 minutes or so (? don't remember precisely) of boiling all those apple bits, I ended up with this absolutely gorgeous batch of rose-colored, apple-scented liquid. So beautiful!

I found a few different recipes online, all of which were disconcertingly different... So, I picked one that didn't require adding in any additional pectin, and went for that. But after adding my sugar and lemon juice, and keeping my pot at a rolling boil forEVER, I just couldn't get the temperature past 210 F (apparently 220 will cause it to set). So, I finally gave up and added in some fruit pectin (which luckily I keep on hand in my cupboards).

In the end, I came out with about 8 jars of truly beautiful apple peel jelly. I got a nice gentle set, so the jelly is soft but not liquidy. Very nice! It was worth the anguish! The color is so beautiful, it reminds me of stained glass windows.... I might explore other uses for that amazing pink apple-y liquid for my next few batches of apple processing though... I absolutely hate to waste potentially tasty goodies, but I'm pretty sure I don't need more than 8 jars of apple jelly this year!


  1. It all looks so yummy! I've only made small batches of applesauce myself, but I'd love to make such a huge pot full... I guess I need an apple tree!

  2. My Grandfather used to make applesauce this way. Certainly doesn't taste like store bought. I really like how you used the whole apple, didn't throw away the peels and cores, like my granddad used to.

  3. Yet another outstanding post, and BEAUTIFUL step-by-step photos! They really convey the bounty of harvest season. Just a couple of comments:
    1. Family members might like apple peel jelly.
    2. Need more jars? I have some ...

  4. ahhh! so lovely! re: apples 2009, thanks for the apple pie filling! i made a pie that was a big hit with the men of max's family in montana, it was so yummy and perfectly homestead-y!

  5. I love this post...and the best thing is that you shared your step by step instructions...I love it.....good job!

  6. Apple peel jelly - I've never heard of that. It's such a pretty colour, I agree on the stained glass resemblance.

  7. I can't believe it's the beginning of apple season already! I feel like I haven't quite had my fill of summer produce yet. Oh, well! I've also never heard of apple peel jelly, the color is soooooo lovely!

    Oh, and I thought of you when I saw this the other day:

  8. It makes me so happy to see this post! I just learned to can this weekend :)

  9. Anonymous3:32 PM

    OMG--I am so jealous of your apples! I love making homemade applesauce, and do it every fall, but I have to buy my apples, lol :-) Yours looks lovely!

    A tip for the peels--I tried this last year for the first time, and it was really good! You can make a crunchy snack of them by toasting/roasting/baking them in the oven. Sprinkle them with LOTS of cinnamon, spread them in a single layer on a baking sheet, and bake away til crispy. So good!


  10. This is too awesome! I have apple jealousy.

  11. Nice work!

    I can relate to the harrowing experience of using kitchen tongs for canning. I'm now convinced to get canning tongs. And a canning funnel. I have lots o' blackberries out back that want to become jam!

  12. That jelly looks just stunning!
    And lovely to see photos of the canning process. Makes me feel more confident for when I finally do get around to it. But I might go look for some of those tongs and funnels first.

  13. I've been wanting to make my own jam for a long long time now. Thank you for giving the tip to boil the jars. I thought the only way was to either bake or let them dry in a dishwasher. Boiling would be a lot easier for me. I must try this recipe!
    P.S. Your doggie looks so cute!

  14. Aw, you are so awesome! Canning/jelly-makin' (especially when you gotta do that peelin') is a lot of work. But the results are so worth it. I wish someone would give me a big box of apples.

  15. Have you ever tried Apple syrup? It's a great use for that leftover liquid that you made into jelly, simply add cinnamon, don't worry about too much sugar, add as much or as little as you want to get that really sweet syrupy taste, and it is awesome on french toast or pancakes!! Basically use the same recipe as for jelly only you don't have to worry about it setting!! No pectin, just fruit, water, and sugar, can as you would applesauce!! Don't forget the lemon juice or fruit fresh for the necessary acid. I did this with plums one year and it was beautiful and yummy!!


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