Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Canning: Strawberry Applesauce - A++

I saw a recipe for this in one of my canning books this year and just had to give it a try. Several of the kids made a few disparaging noises at the thought of strawberries mixed in their applesauce, so I decided to make a small batch of it out of whatever we had left when the rest of the apple stuff was finished. Boy - do I wish I had tried it out right at the beginning. Even the first round of tasting, while it was still warm, was recieved with very little enthusiasm, but all that changed once a jar (the last one - not quite full enough to process) had been refigerated. The final verdict? Massive success!! It is absolutely scrumptious.

And quite pretty too - don't you think?
I couldn't resist using these cute little jars I found on one of my rare trips through a Walmart.
Is it bad that I can't go through a store that carries canning equipment without checking out what they have in stock? I was only at Walmart because I was out of coconut oil and none of the grocery stores near me carries it. I didn't even need to be on that side of the store. My buggy just went that way and I followed.
Oh well - this applesauce certainly won't curb any addiction to canning that I may be developing.
On to the recipe!!

First I will give you the recipe as I found it in my book. Then I'll tell you what I did, because you know I changed it.

Strawberry Applesauce 
7 lbs tart cooking apples
1 lb strawberries
2 c. water
1/4 c. lemon juice
3/4 - 1 &1/4 c. sugar

Combine everything except sugar in pot and cook until apples are tender. Process fruit through a food mill or blender, return to pot, add sugar to taste, and water if necessary to reach a desired consistency. Bring to a boil and proceed to can. Leave 1/2" headspace and once your canner reaches a boil, process pints for 15 min. and quarts for 20 min. Makes about 6 pints.

There's the original recipe. Here's what I did.

My Strawberry Applesauce
8 lbs. apples (this was 8lbs after peeling and coring)
1 & 1/2 lbs frozen strawberries

I did use tart apples, Granny Smiths in particular, but that was only because that's all we had left after everything else was canned. Personally, I don't know why anyone would use tart apples for applesauce, only to have to add sugar to sweeten it up - it makes no sense. Plus, the tart apples don't usually cook down quite as well.  They hold their shape, which is why they are called cooking apples, and are generally used for pies. You know, so your pie doesn't end up with a bunch of apple mush as it's filling. My sauce is delicious, but it doesn't have quite as smooth a consistancy as I usually like my sauce to have, even though I ended up running it through a blender. I'll use sweet apples next time.

Next, I did not add 2c. of water during the cooking. Expierence has taught me that you only add enough water to cover the bottom of the pot at no more than 1/2" before you start adding the apples. You just need it to get some steam going to start cooking the apples without scorching the ones that touch the pan. They will start to release their juice as they cook and you may well end up with very runny sauce if you start with a bunch of water in your pot. You can always add it if needed, but you can't take it out, and cooking it down without burning it is a tedious process, best avoided if possible.

I also didn't add any additional lemon juice. I don't know why you'd need it. I've seen numerous recipes for applesauce, and none of them require lemon juice (this was the only one I've ever seen, and the strawberry was just a variation allowed in the recipe). I know some jellies/jams do in order to bring up the acid level for safe canning/storage, but strawberry is not one of them. Plus, I keep my cut apples in cool water with lemon juice added in order to keep them from turning brown while I get the rest cut, and I sprinkle them with a little Fruit Fresh, or Mrs. Wages fresh fruit preserve as I place them in the pan (also to keep from browning), so I don't imagine I'd need any additional acid even if that were the reason. Finally, more lemon juice would just have required more sugar to offset the tartness, so I left it out.

Since these were Granny Smiths, I cooked the apples by themselves for a bit before I added the strawberries. I knew it wouldn't take long for the strawberries to turn to mush, but the apples would take much longer. If I were using softer, sweet apples I may put them in at the beginning, or shortly thereafter, but I waited to add them this time until the Grannies were starting to get soft. As I expected, they never softened as much as the other apples do, so I got them as soft as I could and then added the strawberries, running it all through a blender once the strawberries were mushy. I did have to add a bit of water to a few of the batches in the blender, but I didn't really need to add much because the frozen strawberries released quite a bit of moisture as they cooked. When it was all blended I put it back in the pot and started tasting and adding sugar until I thought it was sweet enough. I think I ended up adding about 1 &1/2c of sugar, but I will add, while it's warm you taste the tartness more than you will once it's cold. And if you use sweet apples you won't have to add as much, and maybe not any additional sugar.

Though I used pint jars, I processed them for 20 min. out of habit. I don't usually can applesauce in pint jars so I'm used to the 20 min. for the quarts. I got 9 pt. plus one pint jar that was about 3/4 full.

You should really try this out. It is wonderful.

*Update - I do think I'll put the lemon juice in this time.  The taste was fine through storage, but it did darken after a couple of months and I want to see if the lemon juice will help it keep its color.  

I've linked this post with the Carnival of Home Preserving.
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  1. This looks delicious! Those Better Homes and Gardens are such cute little canning jars.

    Thank you for linking up at the Carnival of Home Preserving!

    1. Thanks. And I agree, those jars are cute, but I went to my local Walmart at the beginning of canning season and didn't see them. I may have to run by the one I saw them at last year if I want more.

    2. I'm having a hard time finding jars, period. Not sure if it's that more people are turning back to canning (or starting out), or the stores are not stocking as many or what. Frustrating as I can't find the wide mouth pints now and I use those for pickled eggs and other things.

    3. I thought maybe it was just me. I've only seen the wide mouth pints once this year, and that was only one case. I grabbed it, but haven't seen any more.

  2. I can't wait to try this! My son and his wife eat my applesauce like a jar is their individual serving so I finally started going to the Asian market by me where very often Fuji or Gala apples go on sale for .89 a lb. I'll try this recipe to see if they like it. I've done regular applesauce, chunky applesauce, sliced apples and sliced apples with a touch of almond flavor. Thanks!!!! Jennifer
    jennsthreegraces blogspot come visit!

    1. This sauce is delicious. I hope you like it. You should also try my blueberry applesauce. The recipe can be found under the canning label on my sidebar.