Apples hold a special place in my heart. This incredible fruit is the very first thing I ever canned on my own. In today’s episode I detail my favorite way to preserve apples for the long-haul. Find out which apple varieties are the best for canning and why naturally sweet apples are always the best choice. Today’s episode will teach you how you can create incredibly tasty, crispy apple slices with minimal use of sugar.
Some highlights from the episode:
Welcome to the old fashioned on purpose podcast . Apple season is upon us and I always have fond memories when I think about canning apples because they were actually the very first thing I ever learned how to can by myself. Apples are generally super cheap, pretty non fussy and absolutely delicious no matter how you decide to preserve them. In today's episode, I'm going to dive into everything you need to know to select and can the very best Apple slices and more for your pantry. I'm your host Jill winger and for the last 10 years I've been helping people just like you who feel a little disenchanted by a modern life. I'll show you how to leave the rat race and create the life you really want by learning how to grow your own food and master old fashioned skills. So at the time of this recording, we are gorging ourselves on the very best Palisades peaches I have ever had in my entire life. A friend was kind enough to grab us a couple of boxes. It's actually like 40 pounds worth because I knew that we would eat more than our fair share. And I also wanted to can some, and you know, it's been a while since I've had really good peaches, like, or I've had a source of peaches that weren't just like grocery store peaches and it really reminded me the difference in fruit when you go to the effort of sourcing it from a local farm or a local grower or just somewhere besides the grocery store, which has had it on a truck for days to get to you. You know, like it really makes a huge difference. Like literally last year my kids weren't even interested in eating peaches and this year they're eating them like they are literal candy. So it's always worth it to go that little bit of extra effort and find the locally grown good stuff. So obviously this episode is not about peaches, but because of this amazing fruit we've had so far this summer, it's making me very, very excited for Apple season, especially since I found a, you pick Apple orchard , about an hour and a half from us, which for us here in like the fruit desert, that's really, really exciting. We don't have a lot of local fruit options. So I am scheming a trip down there. I'm going to load up my car and bring home a ridiculous amount of apples, which then begs the question, what the heck am I gonna do with them? So in years past when I had a of apples, I turned almost all of them into Applesauce. My kids love Applesauce. Christian loves it. It's really, really easy to use it up. I don't have to bribe anyone to eat it. Right? Uh , and you don't have to add extra sugar to Applesauce. If you get sweet enough apples that you literally just puree them. I use a food mill , and boom, they're in the jars. They're in the canner , super easy. So applesauce will be one of my strategies. But my second strategy is going to be canning Apple slices just because that gives me even more winter options. So I'm thinking Apple pie, Apple cobbler, Apple crisp. I have a puffed pancake recipe in my Prairie homestead cookbook that uses apples and cinnamon is the base and the kids love it. So that'll be a really easy way. I can just pop open a jar in the mornings, put that in my skillet and I won't have to be dealing with fresh apples if I don't have them. Apple slices are, where it's at. And in today's episode I'm going to walk you through the details of selecting apples for canning slices and everything you need to know in between. So I think the first thing we need to talk about, and it's really, really key to making sure you're in the product is something you want to eat is selecting the right type of apples for canning, especially when we're canning Apple slices, we want to make sure that the apples we pick will hold up to the heat and that they will stay in crisp distinct slices instead of turning into mushy wedges. Now if your canned apples end up mushy, it's probably just because of the type of Apple you used. And if that does happen, all is not lost. You can still use the mushy slices to make a puree or a quick Apple sauce. You just won't probably have the best option for things like pies, cobblers or crisps. So the best Apple varieties for canning in slice form would be varieties that are already naturally sweet. So good old granny Smith is off the table here. We want apples that are sweet on their own. So gala, Fuji, those are fantastic options. You also want to stick with apples that having naturally firm flesh. These would be apples like honey crisp, pink lady, Braeburn, gala and Fuji, right? Those are going to be the ones that are sweet and crisp. With any others, there's those other softer ones like red delicious, I know that's the most popular Apple. It's not great. It's not even great for pies . It tends to get a little bit mushy. I think the flavor is lacking. So skip that one. Stick to the ones that are great for eating and nice and crunchy. Also, we want to make sure we have the right tools for canning and you'll find that as you get into canning, if you haven't already been in that world, it doesn't have to cost a lot of money. But there are absolutely a few gadgets that you can get that are going to make the process much easier because take it from me, if I'm standing in the kitchen and I have a mountain of fruit or vegetables to process, you know like by process I mean I have to peel or trim or cut or slice or whatever and that's a tedious process. Like my stress level goes bam right through the roof instantly. So I've learned over the years, like I said, I'm low tech and I don't like a bunch of gadgets in my kitchen, but there are a few things that are a game changer, my friends, like will change your life as you can fruits and vegetables. So I do recommend an Apple peeler so I have one that I will link in the show notes. It's old fashioned, it's super cool looking. It suctions onto your kitchen counter. It's metal so it's really heavy. You stab the Apple into this fork thing and then you just turn it and it makes the peel come off and as cool, twisty, right? The kids think it's awesome and it also takes the core out. So I'm left with a whole Apple that is peeled and cored and it's cut into spirals and it's kind of awesome. I love it. Um, that is huge. If I'm going to be making pies or canning slices. Nowif I'm making Applesauce, which really isn't completely the topic of this podcast, but just as an aside, Applesauce, I use a food mill and that way I do not have to peel apples. I usually just leave the peels on when I pureed them and cook it down. They're unrecognizable . Like you can't tell the peels are in there and that saves a lot of time. You are going to want to remove the peels though for any sort of slice just because they tend to get a little tough and weird once they go in the canner and you're not gonna like that texture in your finished desserts . So it doesn't have to be complicated, but some sort of slicer, some sort of peeler is really, really handy for this project. Okay. How many apples are you going to need for canning? That's another question and this is far from an exact science. This is just my estimates and the numbers are going to vary depending on the type of apples, the juiciness of your apples, but I'm just going to say an average would be that it will take 10 to 12 pounds of apples to make four quarts of canned apples slices. And if you're measuring in bushels, so it's going to take about a bushel of apples to get 16 to 18 quarts of canned Apple slices. So use that as a ballpark, but know that it does vary just a little bit. Okay. Switching gears a little bit, we know that when we put food in jars for canning, it has to be suspended in some sort of liquid. So let's talk about that liquid cause it's going to definitely affect your finished product. So technically apples are acidic so they can be safely canned in mere water. If that is what you wanted to do, that is legal and safe. The apples are acidic enough on their own. However, I'm going to recommend that you use a light syrup for your apples instead as it's going to improve the texture, the flavor, and the color in the finished apples. And this does not mean you have to load them up with ridiculous amounts of white sugar. You guys have heard me talk about that before. I can't stand those recipes where it's like four cups of apples and six cups of sugar. And I'm like no way. Like, no, no, no. But a little bit of honey or a little bit of sugar will go a long way and making sure you're finished slices are really, really delicious.:
I personally prefer to use honey when I can fruits or make syrups and I've done that with my canned peaches. I do it with canned cherries. You can see those recipes on the Prairie homestead blog. But some people argue that in this instance that using organic sugar in your syrup instead will make them a little bit crisper versus the honey. So that's up to you. You can experiment, you can do part honey or you know, half of your batch in honey, half of your patch in sugar, see which texture you prefer. But you just gotta play with it and see your preferences. If you're very much against any sort of organic sugar whatsoever, honey will probably be worth it to you even if they're maybe not quite as crisp. So I'm going to give you my formula here for a light light sugar syrup.Speaker 1:
You can even reduce the sweeteners even just a little bit more, but this is the one that is generally recommended in most canning books. It's kind of the standard light syrup. Okay, so now I'm going to get into the specifics of canning these slices. And this can be a little bit technical so if you like to read verses listen, when you're learning something new, all of the same information is over on the Prairie homestead blog. You can click over there and get a printable recipe. I will drop a link to that in the show notes, but if you want to listen now, I will walk you through the process so you understand it from start to finish and then you can go grab your measurements later when you have your apples ready to roll. Okay. So what you will need for this canning project, you're going to need some crisp sweet apples like we talked about a minute ago and you're going to want those apples to be peeled, cored, and quartered, right ? So peels off, cores out and cut into four pieces. You're also gonna need a quarter cup of lemon juice plus four cups of water. And we're going to mix these two things together. The lemon juice in the water in a bowl. This is just to prevent Browning. It's an acid, but this is not acid to help with the canning safety like we see with tomatoes or other recipes. This is just to prevent Browning cause we all know apples turn Brown pretty quickly when their peels come off and then we're going to get some syrup or other make some syrup. And you can choose from either a light sugar syrup or a honey syrup depending on your preference. And the exact amount varies just a bit depending on the size of jars you're using, how many apples you're packing into a jar. But here are some simple measurements. So grab a pen and paper if you like, or you can click over to the blog and grab this, but for your light sugar syrup, and this will help you can around 10 to 12 pounds of apples, you're going to use two and a quarter cups of organic granulated sugar and five and a quarter cups of water. And if you'd like to use honey instead, again, for 10 to 12 pounds of apples, you're going to use a cup and a half of honey and five cups of water. Little side note here, when I am going to use honey in this sort of application, it's going to be cooked, it's going to be in jars. I'm not probably gonna use the most expensive raw honey that I can find. I love raw high quality honey when I use it in other cooking applications or we're putting it in tea. But for this, since it's going to be cooked for a while , I'm just gonna use a still high quality brand, but one that's maybe not quite as premier and quite as fancy, if that makes sense. Alright , so your apples are prepped. We're going to dunk your apples in that bowl of lemon juice water and let them sit there while we're working on our other parts of this recipe to keep them from getting Brown. So while the apples are soaking in lemon, we're going to put your sugar in water or honey and water. If you decide to go that route into a large pot and bring it to a boil. Then we're going to add the apples to the pot and bring those back to a boil. And once it gets to a boil, we're going to shut the heat a little bit. Let me rephrase that. Not shut it down completely. You're going to reduce the heat and simmer the apples in the syrup for five minutes. Then we're going to use a slotted spoon to pull the hot Apple slices out of the pot and pack them into hot, sanitized canning jars. So we're going to put those in there. We're going to need a half inch Headspace at the top, and then we're going to pour that leftover hot syrup over the top of the apples up until we get to a half inch Headspace left in the jar. I'm gonna remove the bubbles with a , you know, a knife or a tool that's g oing t o make the air any trapped air come to the top and then wipe the r ims, put our lids on and stick them in a c anner. You're going to process both pint jars and quart jars for 20 minutes in a boiling water canner. Like I said, these are high acid apples are very acidic, so we can safely use hot water bath canning without any issue whatsoever. Just remember, if you are at a higher altitude, you're going to want to adjust your time accordingly. You're going to have to add some more time on there depending on where you live. Once they come out of the canner , you make sure your jars are sealed and then stick them on your shelf and pull them out during the dead of winter. When you're craving Apples straight from the jar, you maybe want to put them over ice cream or oatmeal or use them to make pies, cobblers, crumbles or whatever else your heart desires. So I hold that was helpful. I hope that encourages you to go the extra mile this year. Invest in some amazing apples. Hopefully you have them locally and put in that little bit of work on the front end to have an amazing batch of home canned food for your pantry once February or January or whatever your cold winter months roll around. So that was a lot of details and if your head is spinning just a little bit with all the processes and numbers and safety information. Rest assured that I have you covered. Canning is a topic that I get questions from more than anything. So I created a full ebook complete with diagrams, charts and all the nitty gritty information you need to start canning safely without the headache. Go to learnhowtocan .com that's www.learnhowtocan .com for all the details and some bonus goodies as well. And that is all for today's episode. Thanks so much for listening. And if you have just a minute, I would be so honored if you would pop over, hit subscribe, and leave a review in your favorite podcast player. Thanks for listening to the old fashioned on purpose podcasts. I'll catch up with you next time and happy homesteading my friends.