Apples!


Anyone who reads Mom’s weblog at coldclimategardening.com or Rundy’s blog already knows that we wound up picking a couple hundred pounds of our apples (we guess) during a hail/frozen rain/grupple storm so that we could save them from the impending hard freeze. Now, what do you suppose you do with a couple hundred pounds of apples? Make applesauce, of course!

Making applesauce is a family affair around here. . .how else do you think we could make so much applesauce? So last Sunday, Teman said that come heck or high water we were going to start canning at 1 pm. Evan did the lunch dishes as fast as he could, and I found the jars/lids/rings we needed. At precisely 1 pm kitchen clock time (as opposed to real time, which can be anywhere from 10-25 minutes off, depending on the the mood Dad was in during the Daylights saving times clock settings), Teman came downstairs and said:

“Okay, let’s Rock and Roll!” Teman is a very literal dude, you know. The first thing he did as part of canning applesauce was to put on Rebecca St. James’ “Transform” album, which is soft rock, and Mom’s favorite biking CD. It’s kind of like audio caffeine–the CD you play when you’d rather be in bed but have to be washing dishes or lifting weights.

Having gotten the most important thing out of the way, we rallied the troops and got to work. (A little aside–Teman is biologically wired to work whenever music is played. Several years ago Lachlan and I conducted a very scientific study; we started playing a music CD in the kitchen for absolutely no reason at all and waited. Within 5 minutes, Teman had walked downstairs and started mopping the floor. Of course, he claims that he was going to mop the floor all along and the CD had nothing to do with it, but the rest of us can see that it’s quite obvious that he was subliminally affected by the music and had no real choice in the matter at all. There will always be those who scoff at science. At any rate, by 12 eyewitnesses, he can’t so much as put on his shoes without putting on a CD first. But then, a lot of the times putting on his shoes also includes skimming through a book an inch thick or reading a magazine from cover to cover.)

Anyhow, making applesauce is fairly straight forward, even if does take forever. There’s the canning part and the applesauce part. Traditionally, Teman and I get stuck with most of the canning parts, and everyone else makes applesauce. Of course, there’s plenty of times when that’s been different, but generally that’s how it goes. The applesauce part is: cut apples, cut apple, cut apples, cut apples, cut apples. (We cut them into at least eighths, so they cook down faster.) Then, dump the apples into a 2 gallon pot. Pour in 2 or so cups of water, and then someone stirs the pot to keep it from burning. After the apples get all mooshy, they go through the Squeezo, traditionally manned by Rundy. That’s the applesauce. To be canned, the applesauce needs to be heated to boiling and poured into hot jars. Then the lids and rings go on, and they’re either water-bath canned or pressure canned. This year we did water-bath, which is when you cover the jars by 1-2 inches of water and bring to a boil. Then you let it boil for 20 minutes, and then do the next batch. And the next batch. And the next batch.

Of course, all of these steps start to overlap once you get going, so you usually simultaneously have people chopping and stirring and canning and running the Squeezo. Since we had so many people helping, we managed to get a good amount done. Everyone from Teman to Caleb helped at one point. I think even Deirdre tried to help, but it wasn’t very appreciated. Arlie ran the Squeezo once before he had to leave for the weekend, so he got to have one of those spectacular bowls full of hot Purdyville applesauce. Temmy washed all the jars, lids, and rings. Lachlan and Rundy did a lot of the cutting, and Cadie and Evan did a lot of stirring. Everyone else kept switching around. I mostly ran around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to coordinate canning–heating up the jars, heating up the lids, calling Mrs. Belford and borrowing her buffet stove, because our stove was full of two five gallon pots, as well as the pots cooking down the applesauce, and we still needed more burners; finding gallon jars for Teman to wash so we could hold the applesauce till we had enough to can; setting up the canning counter; and doing the actual canning. (But mostly running around like a chicken with its head cut off.)

In the end, we canned 21 jars of applesauce in the space of 4 hours, as well as making enough applesauce for me to can another 14 jars the next day. We’re restricted in how many jars we can actually can in one afternoon by the fact that, no matter how fast you work and how brilliantly you plan, you still have to wait at least 20 minutes to just can the jars. Rundy, the poor man who got stuck with washing supper dishes, had to wash all of the canning dishes as well as dishes for 13 of roast chicken, gravy & potatoes. As if that wasn’t enough, he agreed to wash all of the jars and such I would need the next day–14 quart jars, 14 rings, 14 lids. Needless to say, despite the fact that he is the fastest dishwasher, he spent hours washing dishes that night. I did can the next day (by my lonesome, no one volunteered to help), so now we have 35 jars done. And counting. I think we’re going to can some more this weekend.

But that’s not all you can do with apples, of course. I’m planning on making apple crisp this weekend, and yesterday I made this apple coffee cake that was so fattening it tasted delicious. You know, 2 cups oil, 6 eggs, 4 cups sugar. . .pecans, apples, raisins, a little bit of flour. Next week I intend to make apple gingerbread, and also the best apple pie in the world. And all of that, sad to say, will actually use up all of our apples. That tends to happen when you need 40 cups chopped apples for apple pie. That’s also why Slave Labor has never gone out of popularity in Purdyville. (As Dad used to say, “What do we need a dishwasher for? We’ve already got eight of them!”) If you happen to stop by, you might get a piece of some breath-taking apple product, but be warned! You’ll also probably be drafted to help make it!