I entered a jar of fabulous raspberry jam into the state fair. The state fair that I’ve been to every year of my life. The state fair that’s but a few miles from the house I grew up in, and they had the gall to give my raspberry jam honorable mention. It’s certainly worth more than a mention if I do say myself. But they wouldn’t know that. Because they didn’t even taste it.
Yeah, yeah that’s right. I entered my jam in the category where the judges only choose a winner on how it looks. Phooey.
Should have expected that right? It certainly wasn’t the most beautiful jam in the world, but it’s darn tasty.
My judging complaints aside, I had a grand time making and preserving this jam with my mom. Over one weekend we picked raspberries, chopped apples, and slaved over a hot stove to produce numerous jars of jam and applesauce (the best applesauce in the world).
And since my raspberry jam is a losing jam, I will share with you the recipe for the best applesauce in the world. I wouldn’t keep saying that if I didn’t mean it. You know I wouldn’t.
You will need:
A couple of large pots
8 (16 oz.) pint jars with lids and rings
12 pounds of apples
3 cups of sugar
4 T lemon juice
Pre-pre-Step 1: Wash your jars in the dishwasher on a hot or sanitize cycle, soak in hot water while you prepare everything after you cook the apples down. If you don’t have a d/w, you can boil the jars in a pot of water for 10 minutes as well. Also, put the lids and rings in a pan of very hot water-but shy of boiling-for at least 5 minutes. Then you can just leave them in there and turn the burner off if you want. You may also start boiling water (enough to cover the jars by an inch or so) in a large pot.
Pre-Step 1: Select your apples. We used yellow transparents, it’s good to use a mix though. You may need to adjust the amount of sugar depending on the apples you choose.
Step 1: Wash core, and chop (do not peel) apples into wedges or chunks. Toss into a stock pot with 1 inch of water and lid and cook it down till it looks something like this:
Step 2: Put said apple mash through a food strainer. You don’t have to use a fancy one, you could use a hand-cranked food mill too that you can pick up for around $20 or $25. This step is crucial to your success, the mistake that most people make is not straining it. Personally I don’t like chunky applesauce, which is why I like this recipe so much.
Step 3: Pour the applesauce back into a clean pot (make sure it’s not too full, it may splatter a little when it starts to boil). Add 4T of lemon juice, 3 cups of sugar, and a couple tablespoons of cinnamon to taste. You could also certainly do it without sugar, but I don’t know that I’ve done this. Bring it on sugar, I’m not afraid.
Step 4: Bring to a boil over medium-high heat while stirring frequently. This is when the applesauce bubbles up like lava and can splatter a little, a cooking screen is useful here.
Step 5: Ladle the applesauce into jars with 1/2 inch of head space. Using a jar funnel here is highly recommended. Then dip a paper towel into the hot water that the lids are in and run it around the rime and edges of the jar to make sure that it’s perfectly clean to get a good seal.
Step 6: Carefully lift a lid out of the pan with a magnetic lid lifter or use tongs (like me) and place the lid precisely along the rim of the jar so you don’t have to slide it around. You don’t want to have to readjust. It should be exactly lined up. Then screw on a ring just enough so it won’t move, don’t screw it on super tight. Very bad. This is how things explode.
Step 7: Process the jars in a boiling water canner (the jars should be covered by at least an inch or two of water) for 20 minutes. Remove the jars carefully and place on a tea towel and let cool for 24 hours. You will hear the lids pop every now and then as they seal. Check the next day that they are all sealed by pressing on the lids (if they pop back up then they are not sealed), if not then you can reprocess immediately or place it in the fridge to eat. I may or may not suggest sabotaging at least one jar so you can eat it, but the better idea is just to leave a quart or so un-canned so you don’t waste a lid.
This really is the best applesauce ever, I can’t eat any other kind. It’s also the best food for when you’re sick, I lived off of it when I had strep throat last year. It was like a juice fast, but with applesauce. It wasn’t the worst thing in the world.
P.S. Don’t be afraid to can this recipe, it’s only a boiling water process. No scary pressure canners here. You could also make this and just eat it, though I’d advise halving the recipe.