Thursday, November 15, 2012

Not That You Asked How-To: Make Applesauce/ Apple Butter From Wild (or not!) Apples

Warning: not entertaining, merely informative.  My service to the Internets.  TL;DR version:  Boil  or bake the whole apples.  Cutting is too much trouble. 

1) Find, borrow, or buy a food mill.  With a side crank.  No, REALLY.  This one will do fine. Farm and Fleet has them too.

2) Find an abandoned apple orchard, or a neighbor with a tree they don't pick, or a few crabapple trees that have revolted and are growing large apples.  Try an apple.  If it pulls off the branch easily and tastes okay, it's ripe.  Even if they aren't quite ripe, it's okay.  Or you can come back in a week or two.

3) Gather up a pointy tool on a stick (a four-tined cultivator is perfect) or an apple picker if you have one, maybe a tarp, a bucket, a stepladder, and some paper or reusable grocery bags.  Go back to your apple trees.  Spread the tarp if desired.

4) Look on the ground.  Pick up any apples that look mostly okay; there will be a lot of windfalls.  Pick all the apples you can reach from the ground, with or without stepladder.  The tarp is handy here; you can chuck the apples onto it rather than carrying a bag up your ladder.  Don't fall off the ladder.

5) Grab your pointy tool in your hand. Climb up on your stepladder.  Without unbalancing yourself, hook the cultivator around an apple-full branch securely.  Yank it up and down as hard as you can.  Most of the apples will fall off the tree.  Repeat all over the tree until you have enough apples, or are exhausted.

6) Now pick up all the apples you shook down from the tree.

7) Go home and have a drink.

8) The next day, or possibly the next week, take a bag of apples and pour them into your sink.  Fill with water.  Swish the apples around vigorously.  Sort them out, removing stems and leaves.  Really worm-hole-ridden or rotten apples go in the compost; apples you might consider eating go into a clean bowl/ bucket/ bag.  If you have a small child handy, they like this part. 

9) Find a large roaster pan or oven-safe pot.  Fill it all the way to the top with whole apples.  Add about one part in ten of water (so 1.5 quarts water in a 15-quart stockpot).  Put the lid on.  Stuff it all into your oven.  Bake at anywhere from 250-350 degrees until the apples look soft and exploded (about 30-90 minutes, depending).

9a) You can also do this on a stovetop (or the side burner on your fancy grill!) on the lowest heat setting.  It will take a long time.  Add more water.  The bottom will inevitably burn.  Don't worry. It will eventually chip back off.

10) Let your apple cool as much as you want (though very hot apples go through food mills a treat).  Run them through your food mill to remove peels and seeds and so on.

11) Add sugar and spices as desired.  Stir well.

12) Pack and process your applesauce.  If you need a tutorial, see here.

13) To make apple butter, use only cinnamon to spice, and maybe a pinch of cloves.  Do not use nutmeg or ginger; it will have a very, very strange flavor.  Add 1 tsp-1 tbsp apple cider vinegar per quart of applesauce.   Put it back into your giant oven-safe vat and bake at 210 to 250 degrees for a few days (just leave it in overnight), stirring a couple times a day, until the volume is reduced by about 50% and it is a dark brown color and very thick and has a slightly strange texture, a tiny bit like cottage cheese.  Can as above.

(I regret that there are no pictures of the making of the Truly Epic 16 Gallons Of Applesauce, but, um, we were busy.)

1 comment:

  1. It is too entertaining, I especially enjoyed #7. I do have a few pictures of the finished product that I could find and email. I've scouted out an old monastery with many abandoned apple trees, which is now a public park, for my supply for next year. Assuming we eat everything before September, which may not happen :)


Comments are moderated, so it may take a day or two to show up. Anonymous comments will be deleted.