Homemade Applesauce- Frugal to the Core

Homemade Applesauce put up for the winter

Homemade Applesauce put up for the winter

With an abundance of apples to harvest this year consider making some homemade applesauce!  Super easy to make,  the taste is delicious, simply amazingly superior to the commercially available sauces.

Making applesauce at home requires no special equipment, just  apples, cinnamon, and sugar is optional.  Preparing the tangy sauce at home is a fun, frugal, practical and a realistic activity for the whole family and all levels of cooking ability.  Use #2, or slightly blemished apples to save money and simply cut-away the bad spots.

how-to-make-applesauce-3952

For my family, applesauce making has been a fall tradition transcending more than thirty years, ideal for our cooler Fall days.  By utilizing our abundant North Fork apple crop, you can use up the less than perfect apples inexpensively.  If you use at least three different varieties of sweet apples such as Gala, Red Delicious, Golden delicious, Fuji, Honeycrips,  or Romes you will eliminate the need for sugar.  Picking apples yourself makes the process really inexpensive and gives you the added sense of satisfaction of using up what otherwise might go to waste.

For a detailed, illustrated step-by-step PDF for making homemade applesauce, Click Here.

Basic Steps to Homemade Applesauce:

1.  The first step is to collect the equipment you will need if you are making enough to freeze or can.  Small batches can be made and stored in the refrigerator up to two weeks.

  • Large Stockpot
  • Knifecanningsupplies
  • Pint or quart canning jars
  • Jar lids or Tattler reuseable jar lids
  • Jar Funnel, optional
  • Foley Food Mill, Norpro or other Saucemaster, Food Processor or potato masher, optional
  • Water Bath Canner (if freezing the sauce the Canner won’t be needed)

apples-in-wheelbarrow2.  To make 7 quarts applesauce to freeze or can you will need about twenty pounds or more of a variety of different apples for the best tasting sauce.  If you only have one tart variety, the applesauce will still be yummy.  If your apples are bland, you can enhance the flavor substantially by using lemon juice to taste.

3.  Wash the jars in hot soapy water and then rinse in hot water, or better yet, let the dishwasher do the job and keep the jars warm.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA4.  Then wash, peel if desired,  and chop the apples up.  If you have a Saucemaster or Foley food mill, you can leave the skins and seeds in the apples, and the food mill will remove the waste for you.  I also like to leave the skins on for the added pectin in the sauce and the pinkish color to the sauce imparted by red skins.

5.  Fill your stockpot to the top with apples, and add about an inch of water and once the pot is boiling adjust the heat to medium high to steam the apples for about 30 minutes or until the apples are soft throughout the pot.  Stir occasionally.images

6.  Run the apples through the food mill or mash them up by hand with a potato masher.  Add cinnamon to taste.  I use about 1 Tbsp of cinnamon per 3-4 quarts of sauce.  (I also mix the cinnamon with a little sugar so it mixes into the sauce smoothly.)

Fill the jars to 1/2” for pints to within 1” for quarts or 1 1/2 inch for jars of sauce to be frozen (to allow plenty of room for expansion).  Plastic containers are also a great inexpensive way to preserve the sauce if you don’t have a Water Bath Canner.

7.  Process the Jars according to the following chart based on your elevation.

sauceprocessing

8.  Remove the processed jars with a jar lifter and place them on a dish towel covered wooden cutting board or other heat-safe surface.  Check the jars for sound seals after 24 hours and store the jars in a cool, dark place.

applesauce-jars

For a detailed, illustrated step-by-step PDF for making homemade applesauce, Click Here.

Roasted Tomato Marinara Sauce

Roasted tomatoes with onion and garlic makes amazing Marinara sauce.

Roasted tomatoes with onion, basil, and garlic makes amazing Marinara sauce.

The beauty of roasting end-of -the-season tomatoes is that you use what you have left, including any kind of tomato, not just Roma’s, onion, garlic, fresh basil, and other herbs.   Oven roasted vegetables of any kind are extra flavorful and so is this sauce!  After roasting the tomatoes, onions, garlic, etc make the sauce by putting the roasted veggies through a blender or food processor.  Fantastic for spaghetti, lasagna, tomato soup, or anything you would use a marinara sauce for.

In the middle of winter, pulling your garden Marinara sauce out of the freezer will remind you of the bounty of summer and remind you that summer is coming!

Roasted Tomato Marinara Sauce:

1.  Using a deep roasting pan(s), drizzle the bottom of the pan with olive oil about 2 Tbsp.  Fill the pan with chopped tomatoes – any kind or combination of tomatoes is fine.

2.  Slice up 1-2 medium onions and arrange over the top of the tomatoes.  Add herbs such as basil, garlic, oregano, thyme, and rosemary to taste along with some hot red peppers if desired.

3. Sprinkle salt over the vegetables. Roast the onions/tomatoes for 2-3 hours or more at 325 degrees F.  Allow the veggies to cool.  Run the tomatoes through the blender and package in 2 – 4 cup portions and freeze what you aren’t using in the next few days.

Roast any kind of tomatoes you have.

Roast any kind of tomatoes you have.

4.  Adjust seasonings to taste.

I enjoy using this sauce in lasagna.  My friends have tried it over buttered spaghetti squash with Parmesan Cheese.  How do you like to use your sauce?

Plant Garlic This Fall

bunch-of-garlic

The best time to plant garlic is in the Fall, 4-6 weeks before the ground freezes.  Netted packages of both types of garlic are now in stock in the store.  Below are the basic types of garlic available and simple planting instructions.

Hard Neck Garlic:

We have a nice assortment of garlic for Fall planting in the store.

We have a nice assortment of garlic for Fall planting in the store.

  • Sharper flavor
  • Produces stiff stem through the center
  • Hardier – best survival during a cold winter
  • Somewhat shorter shelf life

 Soft Neck Garlic:

  • Relatively mild flavor
  • Best choice for garlic braids

garlicplantingPlanting Guidelines:

  • Plant garlic in our area 4-6 weeks before the the ground freezes.  In our area that would be mid-to-late October.
  • If you are replanting garlic you grew this year, choose the largest heads, the bigger you plant, the bigger you will harvest.
  • Loosen the soil, add organic compost, and plant 8 inches apart.

Harvesting and Curing:

  • Garlic will be ready to harvest in late July, when some leaves are beginning to yellow.
  • Be sure to cure the garlic properly for storage, by shaking off most of the dirt, layout on a sheet, not touching each bulb to one-another.  Be sure there is no direct sun on the drying garlic.
  • When the stems are completely dry and papery, exterior has tightened around the clove, remove stems, leaving a 1″ stem.
  • Trim the roots
  • Store in a dry dark place.

    Plant garlic in mid-to late October

    Plant garlic in mid-to late October.  What a great way to get a headstart on next years garden!

 

Winterize your Yard Now

townparkThere are five main chores for getting the yard winterized:  raking leaves, applying fertilizer, clearing gutters, insulate your plants, and draining your pump, sprinklers, and hoses.  

1.  Rake Leaves

Finish getting the leaves raked up, if they ever finish dropping, before the first snow hits which eliminates lawn damage caused by molding leaves.  Rake up

Rake leaves before winter sets in

Rake leaves before winter sets in

the leaves for making your own compost, or bag the leaves up in the blue compostable bags provided by the Town of Paonia since they are no longer vacuuming up the leaves left at curbside.

The FREE blue bags, available at the Town Hall, are on a first come first serve basis.  Fill your bags with your leaves and place them at the curb and you will be surprised how quickly they are snatched up by those who are seeking low cost compost material.  Just be sure that only leaves (no twigs, or branches) are loaded into the bags.  All types of rakes are available in the store.  Come in now for the best selection.

2. Apply  Winterizing Fertilizer

Fertilome's Winterizer

Fertilome’s Winterizer

Fall feeding is the most critical feeding time for your lawn and trees.  Fertilome’s Winterizer is a great product to build up resistance to winter’s harshness by increasing stem strength and disease resistance.

Lower nitrogen (10%) and higher potassium (14%) plus small amounts of trace minerals such as Boron, Copper, Iron, Manganese, and Zinc,  help build up vigorous root growth during the winter resulting in healthier, greener lawns in Spring.

  • The product should be applied at the rate of 20 pounds per 5000 square feet for lawns
  • Use 1 pound per inch of trunk diameter around the drip line* for trees.
  • Use 1 Cup per 3 foot of height for shrubs  Don’t apply the Winterizer too close to the tree trunk, and then WATER thoroughly following the application.

*A drip line is the outer edge to which a plant’s branches spread.  This is where rain water tends to naturally drip from the plant and where the root system is concentrated.

Organic Winterizing Products include Earthworm castings which promote root growth and plant nutrition and  Soil Activator contains humates.  All products are in stock at the store.

3. Clear Gutters and Drains

gutters-280x210

Removing debris from gutters and outdoor drains unclogs the gutter and prevents water damage to your house and roof.  Neglected gutters risks water backing up and seeping into your roof, or spilling down the side of the house causing possible foundation damage. 

This step must not be done so early that the gutters re-clog, or the gutters can become frozen with debris inside.  Aim, to complete this step when the leaves are down and before the first snow.  With our Colorado Indian Summers this step probably needs to be completed in November sometime before Thanksgiving.

4. Insulate Plants 

SIX_FOOT_medium_mediumProtecting plants with a “jacket” for the inevitable extremely cold freezing temperatures helps eliminate winter-kill and promote plant health.  Cover plants  roots with at least a one inch layer of mulch (Soil Pep is a good choice).

Also, plants can be safeguarded with The Planket, which is a plant blanket designed to prevents winter damage from both snow and deer and available at Paonia Farm and Home. Other materials you can use  to protect cold sensitive plants would be include burlap,, a sheet or a cardboard box..  When the sun and warm temperatures return, these “covers” need to be removed to avoid “baked plant”.

 5. Drain Pumps, Lawn Sprinklers and Hoses

 Hopefully this job is done already, because Lawn sprinkler systems and pumps represent a substantial capital investment and must be drained, and blown out before the deep freeze of winter sets in or you will most probably incur broken, pipes, sprinkler heads and and other damage that will need to be repaired next Spring.

As always, visit or call the store for more information for answers about products, services to all your gardening questions.  You can also contact the store for a list of people willing to perform the various tasks discussed in this article.mulching