Time to make applesauce again. We have some applesauce left over from last year. That meant both we didn’t need as much to eat, and that I had fewer jars available for new applesauce. On a normal year, I could have just bought more jars in the store. But this year, jars have been hard to come by. I went to the farm stand intending to buy 1 bushel of apples.
I must have hit prime season for apples, because they had lots of options in B grade – Cortland, Honey Crisp, MacIntosh, Mutsu (or Mutzu?), and Macoun. My notes from previous years say all of those except Honey Crisp make good sauce. Cortland has been my staple for the last ten years. But, I just wasn’t feeling like Cortland. I wanted something fresh. So that left MacIntosh, Mutsu, and Macoun. All of those sounded tasty. So, that’s how I came home with 1.5 bushels instead of 1 bushel.
The applesauce came out great. It’s quite tart, possibly my most tart. It doesn’t rival the wild apples in Dolly Sods, WV. Consistency was good, no issues with burning on the bottom. One of the apples, I think the Mutsu, took longer to cook than the others. But with a little extra patience, it came out delicious.
The canning process, on the other hand, didn’t go so well. I had two jars crack.
The first jar was entirely my fault. I had the clean jars sitting on the counter at room temperature. I filled them up with hot apple sauce and then put them in the boiling canning water. That transition from room temperature to boiling was too much and cracked the third jar. According to the official Ball Canning guide, before filling the jars, they should be slowly brought to a simmer and then simmered for 10 minutes. Alternatively, you can preheat the jars in the dishwasher. So I put the rest of the jars in the dishwasher. Yet, when I filled a batch straight out of the dishwasher, I still had one jar crack.
The jars always crack at the bottom. So I loose most of a jar of applesauce into the canning water. Then I have to fish the broken glass out, and debate what to do with the remainder of the applesauce in the jar. The first jar cracked in two places, so I threw the sauce out, worrying there might be more shards. The second jar cracked cleanly, so I rescued what I could of the sauce. But the real question is what did I do differently previous years.
In 2015, I had jars crack also. Then I was using the dishwasher.
One of my big obstacles is that I can three to four batches in an evening. So, while I can slowly preheat the first batch of jars, I don’t have anywhere to preheat the subsequent batches. Similarly with the dishwasher, by the last batch, the jars are usually coming out of the dishwasher tepid.
Things I can think of that were different other years
- early years, I skipped reheating the applesauce to a boil before putting it in the jars (technically needed to kill the molds and yeasts)
- older jars
- first jars left at room temperature
- canning water at a rolling boil instead of coasting when I put the jars in
I think this might be an effective process, and accidentally what I have done other years
- wash and steam the jars in the dishwasher
- put the first batch of jars in the canner with the water tepid
- heat to a boil
- fill those jars with applesauce, replace in the canner & process
- Turn heat off under canner, wait until it cools off a bit — This may have naturally happened because I get behind making applesauce vs canning when it’s just me, or when I put the giant canning pot on the stove too early.
- Take fresh jars from the dishwasher and put in hot, but not boiling water
- Heat the canner back up
- Fill jars with sauce and repeat
The reason I think that might be a good process, it it’s what I settled to later in the evening, and I didn’t loose any more jars, even though I had run out of good Ball jars and was using washed out commercial pasta sauce jars.
While typing this up, I just discovered that people use a rack at the bottom of their canning pot to keep the jars off the hotter metal bottom. I should probably try that too.
P.S. approximately 24 quarts including the sauce I lost. Diane took some home to share. And Tyson helped with the end game, making bread, and a whole lot of clean up.