From start to finish, this is how I process a crate of apples. Most years I get 2 or 3 crates of apples from my mom’s trees, and this year I got some extras from a friend who didn’t have time to process a few boxes of “seconds” apples before they went bad.
- Empty the crate into the sink, weeding out any moldy or squishy apples. For me, I am entirely OK with holes and little blemishes that I can cut out, especially if I am going to be cooking it for days into apple butter. But if a worm hole grosses you out, pitch it.
- Fill the sink with cool water, to wash the apples.
- Slice apples into halves (or quarters if they’re huge) and fill a large stock pot.
- Add a few cups of water to the apples in the stock pot, and set on the stove to bring to a simmer. Make sure it doesn’t boil dry, and cook 5 or 10 minutes till the apples can be pierced easily with a fork.
- Working in small batches, run the apple pieces and cooking water through a Sauce Master. IF you do not have one of these machines, you can either peel and core the apples before cooking them down into sauce, or cook the chunked apples down and then force them through a colander. (The latter is easier to do if you have an apple peeler.)
7. If you started with a mix of ripe and unripe apples, the juice that drains out can be considered pectin- it will be a thick, silky liquid. I’ve never cooked with it, but this woman has very clear instructions. At the very least, it could be cooked down into a delicious glaze for desserts, sauce for ice cream, or used as a syrup with sparkling water to make apple soda. If you started out with very ripe apples, there will have been very little natural pectin remaining, and the juice that you’ve drained off can be brought to a boil, decanted into hot and sterilized quart jars, and processed in a water bath for five minutes to seal. You MUST bring the juice to a boil before you can it, to kill off any germs. I like this juice best when I mix a few different types of apples.
8. The drained apple sauce can either be brought to a boil, funneled into hot jars, and processed for 25 minutes in a hot water canner, OR you can put it in a crock pot (with the lid ajar and heat set to low) for a day or two until it is thick to your liking. I prefer to add a bit of cinnamon or other “pie” spices at the end, to taste. It can be spooned into pint or smaller jars, and processed 25 minutes in a hot water bath canner. I have never used sugar in either my sauce or my butter, and have always felt it was plenty sweet.
9. Let your jars sit overnight on a towel, then check to make sure the lids sealed, remove the rings, and rinse everything off before storing the jars away in a dark and cool place.