Canning applesauce is not for those who travel on weekends and hold down full-time jobs. I also don't think that canning applesauce is for those who have wee ones (not I). Therefore, I'm not exactly sure who that leaves. I suppose retirees and those who don't have children at home. Well, give me another 40 years and maybe I'll fall into that category. Oh, funny side note about about retiring. Costco slightly messed up my graduation cake by putting "Happy Retirement Kara." When Lance went to pick it up he thought that I might have put that on the cake as a joke. But then he ready my order sheet that clearly stated "Happy Graduation Kara." I guess someone at Costco knew my secret wish - retirement at the age of 27. Who knew they would announce it in chocolate buttercream? :)
Anyway, much like my thought process, I digress. Applesauce. If I didn't love the homemade version so much, I don't think that I would have devoted the time to make it myself. Lance and I have determined that by the time you factor in your initial start-up costs (canning jars, flats, rings, a canner, canning equipment), the cost of the raw product and then factor in your time, homemade applesauce is just not a good investment. Granted we were fortunate enough to have been gifted a canner and canning equipment from my mom and were also gifted jars, flats, and rings from my mother-in-law. We had zero equipment costs and were given apples from Lance's aunt and uncle. I guess what I'm leading up to is that even though we virtually zero cost invested, making applesauce is a ton of work and canning applesauce is just as much work. All in all, a single batch would produce roughly 7 pints and take us 2 hours from start to finish. TWO HOURS. That's a lot of labor for a measly 7 pints. I'm going to include a few takeaways, it's going to take me a solid two years before I forget how labor intensive applesauce is and attempt it again.
1. Use a heavy-bottomed pan. No, I am not referencing a pan with "junk in it's trunk." A heavy-bottomed pan will reduce the likelihood of scorching.
2. My MIL does not peel her apples. She allows the apples to cook down to mush and then runs it through her blender. For us this was about a 30-45 minute process. I took a page out of her book and didn't peel my apples either. I did however blend them with my immersion blender (yay for the handy-dandy immersion blender) and then run them through my new meat grinder. Note to self: remember to remove one of the meat grinder screens prior to beginning. It will take ages if you forget this ...
3. Regardless of Lance stating that he does not want cinnamon in his applesauce and that he DOES NOT LIKE cinnamon, add it anyways. It tastes better and Lance will eventually admit this too.
4. Fruit flies will inevitably be attracted. They gross me out. One all-natural way to catch fruit flies is to pour a little apple cider vinegar into an empty beer bottle and drop in a little dish soap. They like it and then they die in the liquid.
5. I've read on several websites that the quality of your applesauce is dependent on the quality of your fruit. This, in my opinion, is a little bit of crap. Lance and I used farm apples. I used ones that had bad spots in them. Granted, you must cut the spots out, but there's nothing wrong with "seconds." There's a reason why you are grinding the apples down and cooking them into mush. You will not notice that your applesauce was produced from seconds unless you fail to cut out the bad spots. Then you are just straight up lazy.
6. When canning, make sure that after you bring your water to a boil, that it remains at a slow boil. I thought that I ruined our last batch when none of the cans from that batch popped before we went to bed. By the next morning they had all popped, but I was concerned by my lack of attentiveness.
That about summarizes my tips. Needless to say, I do not anticipate anymore applesauce in my immediate future. But knowing me, I'll have a hard time saying no to cheap/free fruit and find myself in another applesauce canning bind :)