When I married into my husband’s family, one of the first food traditions I was introduced to was Grandma Croy’s Cinnamon Applesauce. All my life I had eaten cooked apples the way my Granny had made them, which were chunky and stewed. This applesauce is a bright red and has a wonderful spicy cinnamon flavor.

Not many people are continuing this tradition these days – let’s face it, making homemade applesauce is a whole lot of work. But, it’s worth the effort. Whether you’re making one pan or making enough for your family’s annual enjoyment, I’ll share the steps to this beautiful dish.

This is less of a “recipe” and more of an explanation of “process.” How much of anything you use in this recipe varies greatly depending on what type of apples you use, the moisture content of those apples, how tart or sweet they are, how much cinnamon flavor and color you want in your applesauce, and how much you’re making.

INGREDIENTS:

apples
water
granulated sugar
cinnamon red hot candy

I typically used Jonathan apples for sauce. However, I’ve started using Gala’s because they’re wonderfully sweet, have great moisture content and make a nicely textured sauce. Start by peeling, slicing and coring the apples. (If you plan to make a fair amount of applesauce, an apple peeler/corer is a must.)

Place sliced apples in a dutch oven or stock pot. Let’s have a conversation about the type of pan you use. I have the best luck when using my stainless steel, copper bottomed, Revere Ware pots. They conduct the heat well and cook the apples quickly. It’s also important to me that the natural color of the apples be retained as much as possible and that the juices not totally cook out and evaporate during the process – you’re going to need those. Dark or non-stick cookware has a tendency to take longer to cook the apples, turns them a darker color as they cook and leaves you with a little less liquid at the end of the process. But, use what you have and just pay close attention as the apples cook.

Before placing the apples on to cook, put about 2 inches of water in the bottom of your stock pot. A little more or less depending on how juicy your apples are. This water is there to just get the cooking process started. You want the liquid you end up with to be mostly what cooks out of your apples and not diluted with a lot of water.

Put apples on medium heat and let them cook until tender. You’ll start with a pan full to the brim. Once the apples break down and become tender, you’ll have reduced the amount to about half of what you started with. As the apples cook, make sure to stir/move them frequently. If you don’t see liquid cooking out of the apples, you can add a small amount of water to ensure they don’t scorch or stick to the bottom of the pan. Once the apples begin to get tender, use a potato masher and mash to apples up to help them finish cooking and get to an even consistency.

Add sugar to the apples. Note that I didn’t give an amount. This is dependent on the natural sweetness of the apples, the amount you’ve cooked and how sweet you want your sauce to be. Note that you’ll also be adding cinnamon red hots to your applesauce so don’t go overboard with the sugar at the beginning. Add a small amount and taste. Add cinnamon red hot candies, using the same process. How red do you want your sauce? How much cinnamon flavor do you want to have in your applesauce? Add more sugar or red hots gradually as you reach the flavor you want. Let the red hots dissolve completely. Remove apples from the heat and let cool.

Using a food processor or a food mill, process small batches of the apples until smooth. Don’t over-process or your applesauce will be too watery.

The next step depends on how you want to preserve your applesauce. You can, of course, portion it out into ziplock freezer bags and freeze it. However, I prefer to can mine and to have the ability to grab a jar off the shelf and put it on the table or give it as a gift whenever I need it.

HOW TO CAN YOUR APPLESAUCE:

What you’ll need:
A boiling water bath canner
Glass preserving jars, lids and bands (always start with new lids)
Jar lifter
Canning funnel
Magnetic stick for lifting lids out of boiling water

Fill your canner about 3/4 full of water and put on heat until water comes to a gentle boil.

I like to wash my jars in the dishwasher immediately before I’m ready to fill them as they need to be hot when you fill them with applesauce. Fill the jars leaving room at the top for any expansion. Overfilling can cause a jar to break or not seal properly.

I’ve always heated my lids in boiling water and then placed them on the jars. However, the Ball and Kerr websites say that the current lids don’t require that anymore. But, it’s the way I was taught and I still do it because I know it works. Place the bands on the jars and turn just until they’re secure, but not TIGHT. It’s important that you don’t tighten the bands until after the sealing process is complete.

Lift your jars using a jar lifting tool and place in the canner. Don’t overfill the canner. The water should cover the jars by about 1 inch.

Process your applesauce in the canning bath for 20 minutes. Remove and place jars on a towel on your counter top to let cool. You should start to hear lids “popping.” It is recommended that you leave your jars undisturbed for 12 to 24 hours.

Inspect your lids for seals. There should be no flex when you press the center of the lid. You can then tighten the bands and store in a cool, dry place.

I use the canner my Mom used. I still have the dented metal canning funnel. I’m using the recipe I got from my mother-in-law. And whenever I smell apples cooking, it reminds me of my Granny Hamilton whose house ALWAYS smelled of cooking apples. This is what family traditions are all about.



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