I love to bottle applesauce and apple pie filling. Each year I go to the farmer’s market and buy three or four bushels of Jonathan apples and use them to put up applesauce (about 21-28 quarts) and a batch or two of pie filling. Jonathan apples are my favorite. They are tart enough to give a good taste, and I like the pink color the sauce gets from the skins when it goes through the sieve. Here is a step-by-step of how I like to make the applesauce:
Wash the quart jars in the dishwasher and leave there until ready to use. In a small pan, cover jar lids with water and simmer on low. Set up the apple grinder. (I used to use the kind that has a hand crank when I had kid power to turn it–but now I use the attachment to my Bosch bread maker. They both force the apples throuth a sieve and remove all the seeds, skin, and core into one pan and the sauce into another pan. But the Bosch is electric.)
2. Prepare the apples
Fill a large pot with water and set it on the stove to boil. While it is heating, wash the apples and quarter them into large bowls. Pull off the stems as you cut them. Carefully pour enough quartered apples into the boiling water so the water just covers the apples. Let them boil about 6-8 minutes–until barely soft. Use a sieve or slotted spoon to quickly remove the apples to a sink full of cold water, to stop the cooking process. Continue to boil and remove batches of apples to cold water until all apples are softened. Then fill the water bath pot with water, set the wire rack on the edge and turn on the heat. As the jars are prepared for the water bath, set them up on the rack with the lid over them to let the steam begin to heat the glass before lowering them into the hot water.
3. Cook the apples
Drain the softened apple quarters and feed them into the grinder. It will discard the pits & peels into one pan, and pour the sauce into another. As the applesauce pan fills up, measure it out into a very large (about 8 quart) bowl. When you have about 6-8 quarts of sauce, add about 3/4 cup of sugar for each two quarts of sauce. That’s 2-1/4 cups for 6 quarts. Mix it well (I use a wire whip), and scoop it into the jars. Fill to about 1/2 inch from the top. Wipe the top of each jar with a wet finger to be sure there are no chips or dried on food, set on the hot lid, and screw down the ring. Set the jars on the wire rack on the water bath pot until you have a batch ready. Then slowly lower the rack full of jars down into the heating water. Be sure the jars are covered with at least an inch of water. Cover the pot and bath the jars for 30 minutes from when it begins to boil–20 minutes plus 10 extra minutes for 4,500 feet about sea level.
4. Sealing the jars
When finished, turn off the heat, lift the wire rack to the edge of the pan for a minute, and then remove the hot jars to a towel on the counter to finish cooling. Do not press down on the lids. The cooling process will create a vacuum in the jars that will pull the lids down and you will hear them pop. This will seal the jar. Wait a couple of hours and then look at the lids to see if they have all popped down. If any haven’t, you can either refrigerate them and eat them first, or check the jar tops again, put on new softened lids and re-bath them. When the sealed jars are cooled, wash the jars and you can remove the rings. Date the jars and store for later use.