One of my favorite things to do on a rainy fall afternoon is to make apple sauce. We are blessed to live 1 hour from Hood River and their acres and acres of fruit trees. Every year in October we make a trip out to visit our 2 favorite orchards. If we don't have enough apples on our own trees, like this year, we buy about 70 lbs of fruit.
There are so many different varieties of apples. At the store, or even a Farmer's Market, you generally only see a few kinds, nearly all of which are meant for fresh eating - Honey Crisp, Gala, Fuji. It's hard to find apples meant for saucing. That isn't to say that Honey Crisp or Gala don't make fine sauce but why would sauce something that is that delicious eaten fresh?! Apples for saucing include Spartan, Rome, Pink Lady and dozens more. The texture of these apples, for fresh eating, makes them less good. But their flavor and color make them wonderful cooked!
Below are steps for making apples sauce. First you need a food mill. What's a food mill, you ask? (See picture) It a great little tool for making fruit sauces - apple, pear and cranberry. The food mill has some distinct advantages over a food processor. First, you can leave the peels on. That removes some of the prep work and if you are using red apples, leaving the peels on turns the sauce pink. Second, the food mill creates a perfect, consistent texture. If you use a food processor the result may but too chunky or too thin or a mix of both. If I haven't convinced you to go right out and buy a food mill, don't worry, I included instructions for a food processor as well.
1. Pick out 12-14 apples - choose two different kinds and preferably one kind with red skins. Bruised apples are fine.
2. Add about 3 inches of cold water to a large stock pot.
3. If you are using a food processor, peel the apples. If you are using a food mill, skip this step.
4. Slice the apples, discarding the core. Make sure you have discarded all seeds. Place slices in stock pot of water.
5. After the apples are sliced, add water to pot until just at top of apples. Boil, stirring occasionally, until the apples are soft and starting to fall apart.
6. Working in small batches, use a slotted spoon to transfer the apples to the food mill or processor.
7. If you are using a food mill, place the mill over a large pot. Turning the handle, reversing the direction periodically to lift the skins off the grater, until you are left with just the peel and all pulp is in the pot. Discard the peels. Keep going until all the apples have been put through the food mill.
8. If you are using a food processor, work in small batches, pulsing the apples until they are the desired consistency.
9. When all the apples are sauced, taste it. Depending on the type of apples you are using, you may or may not need to add sugar. If you decide to add sugar, add 1/4 c at a time checking the taste after each so you don't get it too sweet. You can also add some cinnamon.
10. Spoon sauce into 6 sterilized pint jars. Secure the lids. Place in a large stock pot with water covering 1 inch over the top of the jars. Bring to boil, then boil hard for 10 minutes. Remove to a towel and let cool to room temperature. The lids should pop down - they'll keep for a year. If a lid doesn't pop, put in the fridge and eat over the next week.