|Using the strainer.|
The second method for processing apples is to wash them, then sit and peel and core them by hand. I only do this when I have less than a bushel, or I want to have apple slices for drying. My tree isn't sprayed or thinned, and I often get gnarly, tiny apples, so doing them by hand is a painstaking task. Being a vintage northern spy apple, though, the flavor makes it worth the work.
Canning applesauce is pretty simple. Bring the applesauce to boiling in a large, heavy pot to prevent sticking and burning. I usually add sugar and cinnamon during this time, but it's only for taste, the sugar doesn't affect the preservation. This is when you allow the applesauce to 'cook down' to the desired consistency. While the applesauce is heating, I thoroughly wash and rinse the jars in very hot water, and set them upside down on a clean towel. On another burner I have my large water-bath kettle heating, half full of water with a 1/4 cup or so of vinegar in it. If I don't use the vinegar, my jars come out all cloudy because of the minerals in my well water. A separate smaller pot has the lids simmering in hot water.
When everything is piping hot I begin by adding 1tbsp. of lemon juice to the jar (to ensure that the contents are acid enough for water bathing) and then using a funnel and a large ladle, I fill each jar to within 1/2" of the top (a good rule of thumb is to fill to the bottom of the ring at the base of the threads). Then I use a clean damp cloth to wipe the top of the jar, add the lid, and secure it with the screw band. This process is repeated until there are enough jars to fill the canner. Once the full canner is heated to a good roiling boil, I set the timer, 20 minutes for quarts or 15 minutes for pints. The processed jars are carefully removed with a jar lifter, and set on a towel on the countertop, in a corner away from drafts. That's all there is to it! With a little work, you can have jars of tasty homemade applesauce ready to enjoy all through the year until the next apple harvest.
Unless, of course, you happen to have a little nephew that just loves it! I'm making extra for him this year, so we won't run out again.