Country Living Series

Monday, September 24, 2012

Canning apples

Most of the fruit I've been canning lately is in anticipation of fruit salads in the coming months. During the long cold Idaho winters, there's nothing better than an enormous bowl of fruit salad in the fridge.

And of course, the time to can that fruit is now, when everything is abundant and relatively inexpensive.

I have plenty of applesauce and apple pie filling canned up. Neither of those are meant for adding to fruit salad. What I wanted to can is what I call "apple bits" -- namely, diced apples.

Back when we lived in Oregon, we had lots of apple trees and I canned apple bits all the time. Here in Idaho we have no fruit trees (at least, none that are producing anything) so I need to purchase tree fruit if I want to can anything. That's how I came to have an entire box of Fuji apples I bought specifically to turn into apple bits.


I don't like Red or Yellow Delicious apples, as they're far too mushy and taste terrible in a fruit salad. I like a firm apple, and Fuji fit the bill well. Beautiful things.


I used my handy-dandy apple peeler, which peels an apple in about five seconds. It will also core and slice, but I didn't use that function.


I peeled between seven and nine apples at a time, and processed those through before starting another batch.


I usually had to trim a little of what the peeler missed.


Then I quartered each apple, nipped out the core, and diced.


When I finished dicing the batch of applies I'd peeled, I poured a little lemon juice over the pieces...


...and mixed it in thoroughly. This kept the apple bits from going brown.


Meanwhile I started some water heating to a boil.


Filling jars.


Because these apples are destined for fruit salad (which is plenty sweet), I didn't want to can the apple bits in syrup. I wanted to can them in plain water. So I merely poured the boiling water directly over the apple bits and called it good.


That was the first round of applies. I peeled and diced the next batch, and filled jars. Then another batch. And another.


I don't know if that box of apples was magically re-filling while my back was turned, but it seemed bottomless. Younger Daughter kept having to wash more jars to keep up with me.


Finally, at last, the box was empty. I ended up with forty pints of apple bits. I don't know why that surprised me, but it did. I guess I had it in my head I was only going to get two dozen or so pints.



Now that I knew how many jars I had, I could prepare the lids. I boiled a pot of water, turned off the water, and let the lids and gaskets soak in the hot water for a few minutes.


Even though the jars weren't filled with sticky syrup, I still wiped the rims. Besides cleaning, it also allows me to feel for any nicks I may not have noticed earlier. A nicked rim means the jar won't seal.


Lids and gaskets on.


Rings on.


Apples are acidic, so they can be water-bath canned. My biggest pots hold seventeen pints between them.



Once the water reaches a rolling boil, I let them process for 25 minutes. Usually apples only need to process for 20 minutes, but we're at 2700 feet elevation, so I added a few minutes extra.

First batch out.


Second batch.


And last batch. Phew. Pooped.


Once the jars cooled, I labeled them.


I washed a few jars that got sticky when they vented after being removed from the water-bath.


I also scrubbed my rings. I encourage canners to keep their rings scrubbed so they don't accumulate gunk. They also helps resist rusting. (And remember, never store jars with the rings on.)


Drying (ring side down, of course).


This is what I love about canning. I can take a seasonal fruit and turn it into something that is preserved for years in my pantry. How cool is that?

17 comments:

  1. Why don't your store your jars with the rings on?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Three reasons:

      1. You won't need as many rings. When kept clean, you can re-use rings almost indefinitely. This means you only need a few dozen rings to get you through canning. But if you store your jars with rings on, you'll need as many rings as you have jars. If you can as much as I do, the last thing you need is a couple thousand rings.

      2. Jars stored with the rings on makes the rings rust quicker, especially in humid climates. Moisture builds up under the metal and starts rusting. Rusty rings don't work as well.

      3. The most important reason: if you store a jar with the ring on, it artificially "seals" the jar. If for some reason your jar seal fails, you may not know it. Believe me, if the gasket seal is plenty strong enough without the ring. BTW, if a jar fails to seal after canning and you store the jar in the fridge for a few days until you have a chance to eat the contents, it's fine to cap the jar with a ring because it's a short-term solution, not long-term storage.

      - Patrice

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  2. How much lemon juice do you use to prevent browning? Do you eyeball it, and is it straight juice, or diluted?
    Thanks,
    Jonathan

    ReplyDelete
  3. How much lemon juice do you use to prevent browning? Do you eyeball it, and is it straight juice, or diluted?
    Thanks,
    Jonathan

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's straight lemon juice, and I just eyeball it. You don't need much, maybe a quarter-cup for that whole bowl full of diced apples.

      - Patrice

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  4. Where do you get all of your energy? Reading this post makes me want to go out and get a case or two of apples and process them the same way. We don't have trees here either, used to have them in Michigan. Having fruit in the winter, especially fruit you processed is just delicious.

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  5. I loved reading about this.

    I have apples coming out of my ears right now, so I'm in "apple-mode," too. This summer during the drought - which is still going on - I made sure to water my trees every week with a soaker hose.

    I'm too lazy to can, though. I like to dehydrate my apples.

    Speaking of which, time's a'wastin'! I gotta get back to work! Let's see, Apple Betty for dinner tonight, applesauce for breakfast tomorrow, raw apples in the Waldorf Salad for lunch tomorrow....and a peck into the dehydrator.

    Just Me

    ReplyDelete
  6. Patrice,
    We are planning to go to Greenbluff this week and get apples, too. Maybe pick them ourselves and save some $/lb. Last year we used Jonathans and they were very tasty. Have you ever tried the Honeycrisp? They are very sweet to eat fresh.
    I do like the Golden Delicious while they are still GREEEN, very much like a Granny Smith. Once they turn yellow, they are mushy like pears. YUCK!
    Paintedmoose

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  7. Wait wait wait.... you store the processed jars _without rings_? Why didn't I know this? I've always believed that you store them with the rings on.

    I got a dehydrator a couple years ago and dehydrated a bunch of stuff (carrots, apples, pineapple, onions, bananas, etc, etc). Once I filled a jar I put an oxygen absorber in it and then stuck the top on, then screwed it on with the lid ring. I've got about forty jars put up and each jar has a ring on it.

    Did I do it wrong? Now I'm worried I've messed something up.

    See, it's just this sort of thing that has severely retarded my whole prep knowledge base. I don't know what to do so I keep putting stuff off out of the fear that I'll mess something up and get someone in the family sick.

    Craig

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Craig, you did exactly right to use rings with dehydrated food, which isn't heat-processed. But with water-bath or pressure canned food, the gasket is what keeps the lid on, not the rings. You don't need to store heat-processed food with rings. You DO need to use rings with dehydrated foods. Don't panic, you didn't do anything wrong!

      - Patrice

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  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  9. Last year, I started labeling my jars with a Sharpie permanent marker. It works great, washes off the jar with just a little pressure under hot soapy water and (best of all) keeps me from having to scrub off the sticky from my tape labels. I had always labeled on the metal top, but I switched to Tattler lids last year. Now, if I could just find a compact way to store those plastic lids. Any suggestions?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I use five two-gallon bakery buckets to organize my canning lids. I have a bucket each for wide-mouth rings, narrow-mouth rings, wide-mouth gaskets, narrow-mouth gaskets, and lids (both wide and narrow in the same bucket). I stack these buckets in my canning closet, so everything is easy to find and organize.

      - Patrice

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  10. I'm a first-timer with canning apples and would like to can slinky apple slices with just water with lemon juice in it. If I do that, can I drain them later on and use the slices in apple pie? I'm finding a lot of recipes for canning applie pie filling, but I'd rather just can the plain apples and make the filling when I'm ready to use them. I just am not finding a lot of information to tell me this is o.k. Any info you can share about this is appreciated! Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. That's what I am planning on doing. I hope it works out :)

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  11. New to canning,but want to can Apples with water only, great article. 3 Questions : 1. Are your jars heated prior to adding boiling water? 2. Must the water be boiling? 3. Is there any concern about the jars cooling too much before going into the water bath?
    Thank you!!

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    Replies
    1. To answer your questions:

      1. No, I don’t heat the jars prior to filling with boiling water.
      2. Yes, I would recommend boiling water. Most canning projects do best with a “hot pack,” and since the apples aren’t pre-heated, the boiling water helps.
      3. Yes, cool jars can break if immersed into boiling water. Your first batch, in which the jars heat up along with the water bath, won’t be a problem. For subsequent batches, I pre-heat the filled and capped jars in a pan of hot water, which helps a lot toward reducing breakage.

      - Patrice

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