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Homemade applesauce and apple butter: The secrets to preserving apples for months to come

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MILWAUKEE -- It's so sweet, you just shovel it in by the spoonful! But you don't have to eat it all at once. Our master preserver, Christina Ward, joins Real Milwaukee to teach us how to make applesauce and apple butter.

Applesauce
(Strawberry Applesauce, Maple Applesauce)
15 cups mixed sweet and tart apples (approximately 5 pounds)
1/2 cups granulated sugar
½ cup lemon juice

  • Step One: Wash, peel, and core apples.
  • Step Two: In large stockpot, place prepared apples with a scant ½ cup of water.
  • Step Three: Over medium-low heat and covered, bring apples to simmer. Mix to prevent scorching. Cook until apples are softened, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat.
  • Step Four: Use potato masher to mash apples to preferred consistency. For a smooth texture, strain cooked apples through a sieve.
  • Step Five: Add any sweetener or spices. Add lemon juice. Return to simmer for 5 minutes while constantly stirring.
  • Step Six: Ladle applesauce into jars.
  • Step Six: Put on lids and process.

Variations:
The sweetening of applesauce can be omitted or substituted with honey or maple syrup. Splenda is also acceptable.

Prior to the final cooking, add in a pureed fruit for a blended taste. Try strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries.

Crock Pot Apple Butter

Note: Apple butter uses a long, slow cook time to evaporate moisture and reduce overall water activity. A slow cooker can be replaced with an oven-roasting pan and cooked in a 200-degree oven.
Traditionally, windfalls and bruised apples are used in apple butter. Remove any blemishes before adding to the mixture.

8 pounds apples (About 25-30 apples. Use a mixture of varieties for a complex flavor.)
1 cup apple juice, cider, or water.
1 cup apple cider vinegar
4 cups brown sugar
4 Tablespoons cinnamon

  • Step One: Wash apples. Rough-chop apples and place into stockpot with 1 cup of water.
  • Step Two: Cover pot and simmer on low heat for 1 hour. Remove from heat.
  • Step Three: In batches, strain apples through conical sieve or food mill to remove seeds and peels. (This method allows for the maximum amount of pectin in the puree.)
  • Step Four: Pour puree into slow cooker or roasting pan. Add sugar and cider and mix thoroughly. Add cinnamon or other spices as desired. Set slow cooker on low or 200-degree setting. If using oven, set at 200 degrees. (Angle the cover of the slow cooker to allow for moisture to escape; oven-roasting pan should be uncovered.)
  • Step Five: Cook time will vary based on the amount of moisture in the apples but can take anywhere from 5 to 10 hours. Check every few hours to stir the mixture. Check for doneness* at about 5 hours.
  • Step Six: Pour into jars. Put on lids and process.

*How to test for doneness: Take a teaspoon of apple butter and place onto small plate. Let cool. The apple butter should remain intact; if a pool of liquid forms around the mound, then more cooking is required.

Variations:
A butter can be made from pears, peaches, and plums. Fruits in the Rosacea and stone fruit families are good candidates for fruit butters.

A faux pumpkin butter can be made by adding dehydrated pumpkin powder to apple butter. This is a great work-around for the fact that home food preservationists cannot safely can pureed pumpkin butter.

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