To go with your Hanukkah latkes, or anytime!
Apples are one of the iconic symbols of autumn. Luckily, the amazing flavor of autumn apples need not be lost when winter arrives. By making applesauce in the fall and preserving it in jars, you can pair autumn apples with your Hanukkah latkes, even when snow is on the ground and winter is undeniable. Latkes and applesauce is a traditional Hanukkah combination, a delicious pairing of salty and sweet, crunchy and soft, warm and cool.
This recipe for applesauce is quite simple and can be adjusted to your taste following some of the suggestions below. Because each apple variety has its own properties (some varieties are sweeter, others add a tart flavor), it is advisable to use a mixture of apples.
Makes approximately 3 pints.
Apples (about 10-15, approximately 6 pounds)
1/2 cup liquid--white wine, water, or apple juice (your choice)
2 cinnamon sticks
Cloves, allspice, ground ginger, and nutmeg (all optional and to taste)
Peel the apples, leaving about a quarter unpeeled to provide color. Chop the apples and place in a 6-quart pot with a lid. Pour in a half cup of the liquid of your choice, so that there is about an inch of liquid covering the bottom of the pot. Add cinnamon sticks and any of the other optional spices.
Cover the pot, and turn the flame on high. When the liquid starts boiling, turn to medium high. Cook until the apples are soft--at least half an hour, but it could take up to an hour. If it is runny, continue to cook until desired consistency, stirring regularly. The sauce should be chunky, but if you want a smoother consistency, you can break up large chunks with a spoon.
If you're going to eat the applesauce fresh, let it cool and store in the refrigerator. Eat it within a week.
If you're hoping to save your applesauce for Hanukkah, as I am, follow the instructions below.
Canning Your Applesauce
You should have on hand:
· A boiling water canner, which is a pot with a metal or wire rack in it, that holds glass jars and keeps them off the bottom of the pot when boiling. You can create your own canner with a very large, deep pot and a rack that fits in it.
· 3 pint-size glass canning jars with fresh lids and screw bands. The jars should be specifically for canning (these are made with tempered glass); old jars you have around your house could crack or fail to seal properly. Canning jars can be purchased at a supermarket, home supply store, or online. New canning jars come with screw bands and lids.
· A ladle or a big spoon
· A wide mouthed funnel
· A butter knife or chopstick
· A jar lifter (can be purchased as part of a canning kit) or a set of sturdy tongs that can be used to remove jars out of boiling water
· A towel
Sterilize the Jars
Fill boiling water canner or deep pot with water, and bring to a boil.
Band and lid
Sterilize your jars by boiling them in the water for 10 minutes, adding the lids for the second half of the boiling time. Even if your jars are new or not dirty, this process is essential--a run through the dishwasher or a soapy rinse is not enough to ensure your jars are sterile.
Remove the now-sterilized jars from the hot water with your jar lifter or tongs, and empty out the water from the jars. Place the jars on a towel rather than directly on a hard surface so that they do not crack. Keep the water in the pot boiling.
Fill the Jars
Using a funnel, ladle the still-hot applesauce to fill a jar, leaving 1/4 inch empty at the top (this is what canners call “headspace”). Remove air bubbles by gently inserting a butter knife or chopstick all along the inside of the jar, moving it up and down, and by tapping the jar against the towel-covered counter to force the sauce to settle.
Clean the rim of the jar, center a lid on the jar, and turn the band on the jar to close it--not too tight. Repeat with the other 2 jars.
Seal the Jars
Place the jars back in the canner or pot of boiling water, making sure you have at least with 1-2 inches of water to cover the jars. Add more boiling water if necessary.
Boil the jars for 15 minutes--begin timing when the water returns to a rolling boil with the jars in place. Turn off the water and allow the jars to stand for 5 minutes before removing them from the hot water (use jar lifter or tongs).
Place the jars on a towel. Leave undisturbed for 12-24 hours so that the seal can set.
Before putting the jars away, check that the lids are sealed by unscrewing the bands and gently lifting the jar by the lid with your fingers. If the jar lifts with the lid as one piece, the seal is good. You can keep the bands on your jars for storage, if desired, though they are not necessary. If a seal is broken, refrigerate that jar and eat its contents within a week.
Canned applesauce can be stored in a cool, dry place for one year.
Note: If you are new to canning, read the detailed information from the USDA National Center for Home Food Preservation here.
Another great canning resource is at foodinjars.com.