Rum Spiced Applesauce


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


Sugar (optional)

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.

Pear Butter w/ Blood Orange

This pear butter is heavenly – pear flavored with a spicy nutmeg hint and it is slightly bitter due to the blood orange rind and juice.  It was the fastest round of canning I have done yet.  As I said before, I am addicted to canning and am looking for more unique combinations of jams, jellies, and butters.

The pear pulp before the blood orange juice was added – still quite yellow in color.

After adding the blood orange, the pear butter will turn into a lovely shade of pink.

Pear Butter with Blood Orange – modified from Blue Bell Canning

6 to 7 lbs pears (about 20 medium)
4 cups sugar
2 teaspoons grated blood orange peel
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/3 cup blood orange juice

To prepare pulp: wash pears.  Core, peel, and slice pears.  Combine pears and 1/2 cup water in large saucepot.  Simmer until pears are soft.  Puree using a food processor or food mill, being careful not to liquefy.  Measure 2 quarts pear pulp.

To make butter: Combine pear pulp and sugar in large saucepot, stirring until sugar dissolves.  Add remaining ingredients.  Cook until thick enough to round up on a spoon.  As mixture thickens, stir frequently to prevent sticking.  Ladle hot butter into hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace.  Remove air bubbles.  Adjust two-piece caps.  Process for 10 minutes in a boiling-water canner.  

Home Made Salsa

It’s been rather quiet on this blog home front lately.  My family has been more than busy with work, life, family, and the likes.  However, I do allow myself to indulge in some of my creating hobbies even in the midst of storms.  This post covers the topic of my most current creation focus.  
I am not even close to sorry for the low quality photos in this post.  As I sit here and type, my brain is wrestling with itself on whether or not to hurry to the kitchen and continue the madness that is taking over my cooking, baking, blogging, and evening time right now: canning.  I have become my parents.  
There, I said it, I am hooked on canning.  

I have been canning salsa and whole tomatoes for a week or two now.  I do small batches that can easily be accomplished in the hours after Greta is in bed and before I am too tired to stand anymore.  

I used to fear canning, even though I witnessed it thousands of times as a kid.  I always feared botching the entire batch of canned goods.  However, upon moving back to Iowa, my goal was to overcome this fear.  I had the kitchen space, I had the time, and I most certainly had access to all the produce I wanted from family and neighbor gardens.  All I had to do was some research and acquire the necessary equipment.  

I headed off to the amazing place called Fleet Farm and bought a steel/porcelain canning pot with rack for processing, and jars, new lids (for my reused jars), a straining set (for when I make jelly), and a canning set complete with a funnel for filling jars, tongs, lid tool, magnetic jar lifter for removing lids from hot water, jar lifter, and jar wrench.  

Within a couple hours, I was enjoying my very own home made salsa.  This batch is mild and sweet – easy on the spices.  The next batches will be amped up a notch or two, for our family’s hot taste buds.  I made a plea to Des Moines for its tomatoes, claiming I would never buy salsa again.  Next time I may keep a little more quiet.

I have two 5 gallon buckets of tomatoes waiting to be canned now.  Why am I still sitting here?  Time to get cracking!  Next I’m working on Can Your Own Tomatoes.

Resources I found helpful for canning:

  • My mom.  No really, find a family member or friend who has canned before and ask them to assist you on your first try.
  • The Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Publication, Canning. 
  • The Bell Blue Book of Preserving.

Home Made Salsa, from Better Homes & Gardens, Canning, 2013.

1. If desired, peel tomatoes.  Seed, core, and coarsely chop tomatoes (you should have 14-15 cups of tomatoes total).  Place tomatoes into a 8 to 10 quart stainless steel, enamel, or nonstick heavy pot.  Bring to boiling; reduce heat.  Boil gently, uncovered for about 1 to 1-1/2 hours, or till thickened, stirring occasionally.

2. Stir in: 1 green bell pepper chopped, with ribs and seeds removed, 3 cloves of minced garlic, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, 1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper, 1/2 cup lime juice, 1/2 cup white vinegar, 1 teaspoon cumin seed powder, and 2 -3 chipotle peppers diced.  Return mixture to boiling; reduce heat.  Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.

3. Ladle hot salsa into hot sterilized pint canning jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.  Wipe jar rim; adjust lids and screw bands.

4. Process filled jars in boiling-water canner for 15 minutes (start timing when the water returns to a boil).  Remove jars from canner; cool on wire racks.  Makes 5 pints.