After months of talking about it, my very Martha Stewart-esque friend finally passed her canning wisdom on to myself. I know, it’s hard to believe that someone can out-Martha me, but…it’s not hard, people.
I remember watching my mom and her friends do canning when I was little. It seemed to take forever, but I loved all the applesauce, peaches and preserves that resulted. I loved the smell of molten fruit and burning my fingers on drips of jam that fell on the stove. Of course, mom grew up on a farm in the South, so these preserving techniques were natural to her. For me, they just seemed scary, time-consuming and full of cookware that I don’t own.
That’s where my resourceful friend came in. She has all the canning equipment, complete with jars, and offered to teach me the craft. And with nary a recipe in sight…
I arrived around 9 a.m. and 50 pounds of apples were bobbing in her sink.
I drank my first two cups of coffee while she got the apple peeler ready. You know, those things that take the peel off in a nice long ribbon. Her two little boys had fun with those.
She worked the machinery and I chopped.
After a couple hours of skinning, coring and chopping, we had all 50 pounds of apples in a giant aluminum pot with a little water and lemon juice. Here they are starting to break down and oxidize..
We stirred, the apples simmered. We stirred some more, the apples simmered some more.
We added a bunch of cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg. Once the apples were mushy with some larger chunks, it was time to can! I learned that sanitation is the No.1 concern with canning, and if you aren’t careful, the applesauce will be moldy and rotten. So she washed the mason jars in scalding water and then boiled them in another huge pot. This took so many pots!
Then we boiled the lids, filled the steaming jars with apples, placed the lids on and then put the jars back in the boiling water to seal. Twenty minutes later, we took them out and let them rest while the lids sucked shut.
Five hours after we begun, we had about 20 large jars of home-made applesauce that is delicious. It would be great warm, over vanilla ice cream or chilled out of the fridge for a nice snack.
I have to say, the whole experience was very rewarding. Even though it took a good chunk of time, it felt good to chop all those apples and to have the fragrance of apples and spices bubbling around me. I can’t wait to learn how to can peaches and freezer jam next – I’m on a roll!