Friday, November 29, 2019

Teach Your Kids to Make Applesauce (And Then You Never Have to Do it Again Yourself!)

Homemade applesauce is one of the official Things That We Do with Apples in the Fall.

It's tradition! I mean, you know, as far as tradition states that we buy waaaaaay too many apples at the apple orchard in the fall, and then have to find useful things to do with the ones that even we couldn't stuff ourselves with (in this family, we are VERY into apples).

I know that store-bought no-sugar-added applesauce is inexpensive, but our applesauce also has no sugar added, and it's fresh, and local, and we know where all the apples came from, and it's incredibly delicious, and it's good for the kids to learn how to make their own food.

Especially when it's this easy to make!

1. Peel and core the apples. You can prepare as few or as many apples as you want! I think it's a good way to use up any apples that are unsightly enough that the kids won't eat them as-is, mwa-ha-ha.

This bushel of apples did not keep as well as I'd hoped it would (I think it's because I let them all sit at room temperature, when I should have kept most of them stored somewhere cooler), so I had the kids pick through the entire bushel, taking out every apple that had a bad spot or was looking pretty bruised.

The kids peeled and cored each apple, and cut away any remaining bad spots. Then they tossed them directly into that big pot there in the middle of the table:

2. Cook the apples on low in a lidded pot until sufficiently done. The kids put the lid on the pot, then put it on the stove on low heat. This cooks down very gradually for most of the afternoon, and the kids just have to remember to check on it every hour or so:

Each time they check on it, they stir it with a wooden spoon and start to mash it down when it's soft enough, and when it reaches a consistency that they both like (chunky is yummy!), they take it off the heat and spoon it directly into large Mason jars.

The kitten helps, because of course he does!

Notice that I had them leave plenty of head space at the top of each Mason jar--we leave one jar in the refrigerator to eat right away, and store the rest of the jars in the freezer.

Well, except for two giant bowls full of applesauce that the kids eat piping hot, of course!

The kids made another, smaller batch of this applesauce a few weeks later, with the very last apples remaining from that bushel, at least the ones that Will didn't juice, and that was it for our orchard apples!

We like this applesauce recipe enough that I've never experimented, but sometime I plan to get enough time on my hands that I go a little stir-crazy and decide to try out something like these spiced or fruit-blended applesauce recipes. I'm also interested in the fact that the author doesn't peel the apples first; instead, the applesauce is blended afterwards, which apparently breaks up the peels enough to hide them? I'd love the nutrition and fiber boost of including the apple peels, but the one time I did try to make applesauce with the peels on, I was definitely left with woody bits of peel all through the applesauce, so I dunno.

P.S. For those of you playing the homeschool game, here are the boxes that we checked off with this activity!

  • Both kids used this as a step for the Girl Scout Senior Locavore badge (Syd is only a Cadette, but I let her earn Senior badges. Feel free to call the Badge Police on me!).
  • Will used this as an enrichment activity for the Girl Scout Senior Sow What Journey.
  • I'm also looping the Sow What Journey into Will's AP Environmental Science class, since food issues are intrinsically tied into land use.

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