My most recent batch of canned applesauce, I made half regular, and the other half I spiked with just enough rum to create the perfect spicy fall evening dessert. Apple sauce is an easy recipe for beginner canners – it requires no pectin, no thickening, no sugar, and no exact measuring. I just cut, core, and peel all the apples I have and can them – whatever is left over is eaten immediately.
My parents brought me a large brown grocery sack full of apples from their trees. Homegrown apples are never flawlessly identical like the ones found in the produce section of the supermarkets – they are all uniquely and sometimes grotesquely shaped with varying hues and yes, worm holes. These apples are perfectly crisp and ready to be eaten alone or prepared for whatever apple recipe you choose. I always look forward to apple season with eager anticipation – there’s nothing like homegrown apples!
I spiced up my regular applesauce recipe from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. This book is an invaluable resource for all things canning and I highly recommend you read it front to back before tackling canning for the first time. The Steel Drum Rum is Iowa-made, Eric picked it up on a bike ride to the Cumming Tap on the Tuesday Taco ride one night. It is not sweet, and so pairs well with the applesauce.
My applesauce with 1/2 inch of headspace, ready to be lidded and processed.
I made a half jar that could not be processed and so got to enjoy some of this lovely applesauce immediately. I like it served warm – one could even add a small scoop of ice cream or whipped cream for a little extra decadence. The best part is this is homemade and sugar free!
Rum Spiced Applesauce, adapted from Ball Blue Book of Preserving
2-1/2 to 3-1/2 pounds of apples per quart
Wash apples, drain. Core, peel and quarter apples
Visually inspect jars for nicks, cracks, or any other damage or defects. Wash in hot soapy water. Submerge jars in enough water to cover. Bring water to a simmer (180°F) and keep jars simmering in water until ready for use.
Choose appropriate size lids for your jars. New lids with sealing compound must be used for each canning. Wash two-piece caps in hot soapy water. Rinse in hot water. Do not use abrasive materials to clean lids. Dry bands and set aside. Lids must be heated for 10 minutes prior to use. Place lids in water to cover and bring to simmer (180°F), keeping lids in simmering water until ready for use. Overheating lids can cause damage and result in seal failure.
Cook apples until soft in a large covered sauce pot with just enough water to prevent sticking. Whisk with metal whisk to break up apples and create a chunky texture. If a finer applesauce texture is desired, puree using a food processor or food mill. Optional: add 1/4 cup sugar per pound of apples or to taste.
Bring applesauce to a boil (212°F), stirring to prevent sticking. Maintain temperature at a boil (212°F) while filling jars. Remove jars one at a time as they are needed for filling.
Add 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 2 – 4 tablespoons spiced rum to hot jars. Then, ladle hot sauce into hot jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Remove lids one at a time, as they are needed. Wipe jar rim clean. Adjust two-piece caps: place lid on jar with only the sealing compound touching the glass and place band over lid and screw onto jar just until resistance is met – fingertip tight. The adjustment of the band should be firm and snug, but not as tight as you can possibly make it.
Use a jar lifter, place jar onto canner rack in canner filled with simmering water. When canner is full, lower rack into canner. Bring to rolling boil, and adjust heat to maintain boil, but not boil over. Process pints and quarts for 20 minutes.
When done processing, turn off heat and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Remove jars with jar lifter and allow to cool completely on a dish towel or cutting board. Once fully cooled, check to be sure that the seal has formed. Press in the center of lid to determine if it is concave. Remove band and try to gently lift the lid with fingertips. If it does not move, the seal has properly formed.
Store applesauce for up to one year.