"The greatest fine art of the future will be the making of a comfortable living from a small piece of land."
-Abraham Lincoln

Canning Apples

 My jars are sterilized and ready to go in the waterbath canner

In the last post I mentioned picking a giant bushel of apples.  What did I do with those apples, you may ask?  Well, truth be told, we ate most of them fresh.  My kids can pack away fresh apples like nobody's business.  BUT, I did can some.  That's right.   I canned them.  Good old fashioned Mason Jar type food preservation.  You can can too.   Little play on words there...anywho, on to the tutorial!

There are really two big rules in home canning.  1. Plan before you can and 2. When in doubt, throw it out.  Keep those two things in mind and you will do just fine. 

Apples are an easy starter food to get your foot in the door to home canning.   They are fairly acidic so they can be canned using a waterbath canner instead of a pressure cooker, they generally hold up well to processing and they are versatile.  

Step 1 in the canning process is gathering your supplies.  You will need:
  • Several sterilized quart sized mason jars with new lids and neck bands
  • A peeler
  • An apple slicer  *this isn't "necessary" but it is helpful and makes the job go much faster
  • A waterbath canner
  • A jar lifting tool
  • A spatula 
  • A saucepan
  • About 30 apples (to get around 3 quart sized jars)
 Tip: keep the lids in a pot of simmering water until you are ready to use them. This softens the adhesive on the lids and makes for a better seal.

 Step 2:  Make your syrup.
  • You can choose to make either a medium or a light syrup.  If you are going to be mainly eating them straight from the jar, I personally like a medium syrup.  However, if you are going to be using them for applesauce or baking, then I prefer a light syrup.  In this case I used a light syrup.  For a light syrup I use 3 c. of sugar to 6 c. of water.  For a medium syrup I go with 4 c. of sugar to 6 c. of water.  Heat the sugar water to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until the sugar completely dissolves.  Reduce the heat to low to keep warm but don't allow it to boil down.  
Step 3: Prepare your apples
  •  Peel your apples and then core and slice them.  If you are worried about discoloration you can use citric acid or a fruit preserve powder, both of which you can find in your canning aisle at your grocery store.   Just follow the directions on the package.  Personally, I don't really worry about a little browning, that's me.  
Step 4: Packing the apples
  • Apples are a hot pack process.  That means that you cook the apples a bit before processing them in the jars.  Add your apples to the syrup and bring them both back to a soft boil at medium-high heat.  Boil gently for 5 minutes.  Pack the apples into the hot sterile jars using a slotted spoon, leave 1/2 inch head space (that part is important so check the chart below to see how to determine head space). Pour syrup of the apples, still leaving 1/2 inch of head space. Using your spatula, press the apples around in the jar to remove air bubbles.  Wipe down your jars, especially around the rim, center the lid and place the band.  Twist the band until just tight.

Step 5:  Process the jars.
  • Place your jars in the water bath canner and fill the canner with water 1 in. above the tops of the jars.  Process your jars in boiling water for the amount of time specified for your altitude.  Don't start timing until the water is actually boiling.  If you are at sea level, boil for 20 minutes.  Add 2 minutes for every 1000 feet above sea level.  So, for example, 1000 or less feet above sea level=20 minutes, 1001-2000ft above sea level=22 minutes, 2000-3000ft above sea level=24 minute and so on and so forth.
 Step 6: Allow your jars to cool
  • I sit my jars on a folded towel on the counter to minimize heat damage.  Allow them to sit for 24 hours.  You may begin to hear random pinging/popping noises...don't be alarmed, that's a good thing.  After 24 hours check your jars for a good seal.  If your jars have sealed properly the center of the lid will not move, or have any "give", when you press on it.  If all goes well, your newly canned jars of apples will last about 12 months, IF you can keep from eating them for that long!