How to make crabapple sauce

Today I had the pleasure of making crabapple sauce with family friends.  Here is the process, in a nutshell:

  1. Shake the crabapple tree to let loose a rain of apples. It helps to lay a tarp under the tree so the fallen apples are easier to see and collect.
  2. Gather the apples into a large bin or bag.
  3. Wash the apples:  Take them inside, pour them into the sink (in batches, if necessary), fill the sink with water and swish the apples around to rinse off any dirt or bugs.
  4. Remove the apples to a large, tall stock pot.  Discard any apples that are green, rotten, bird-eaten or generally undesirable looking.  (Bruised apples are fine, though!)
  5. Fill the stock pot with water until you can just see the water coming up beneath the pile of apples — about an inch or two from the topmost apples.
  6. Boil the apples on high heat, covered, until they break down and turn mushy.  They will fill the kitchen with a mouthwatering aroma when they’re ready!
  7. Remove the pot from heat.  Squeeze the apples, in batches, through a strainer or colander placed inside or over a large bowl.  We used a soup ladle to scoop the apples into the colander, then used the back of the ladle to mash the apples against the sides of the colander.  This process separates the apple sauce (which oozes through the colander into the bowl) from the skins, stems, cores and seeds (which can go into the compost).
  8. Place the extracted sauce back in the pot and reheat to boiling.
  9. While the sauce is reheating, prepare/sterilize clean jars and lids for canning.  We sterilized as follows:  Lids – place them in a glass pie plate and pour boiling water over them.  Jars – Line them up on the counter and fill the first few jars with boiling water.  (When you are ready to fill a jar with sauce, as per the next step, pour the boiling water from that jar into the next empty jar in line, fill, and repeat down the line.)
  10. Scoop the hot sauce into the sterilized jars with a ladle or glass measuring cup.  Fill to about an inch or half-inch from the top.  Use tongs to take a sterilized lid from the pie plate and place on the jar.  Screw the lid band in place loosely and turn the jar upside down for a minute or two.  Repeat until all your sauce has been canned.
    (Note:  It is important to sterilize the jars and lids immediately before you start the canning process, so all germs are killed and the jars will seal properly.)
  11. Let the batch sit to cool.  As the hot jars cool, the temperature change creates a vacuum seal between the lid and the jar rim.  You will hear “popping” sounds as the slight convex dome of each lid snaps down tight.  Once the jars have sealed, tighten the rim band or remove it completely.
    (Note:  You can tell if your jars have sealed properly if the convex dome of the lid is now concave and doesn’t pop up and down when you press on it.  Discard (or eat the contents of!) any jars that don’t seal properly.)
  12. Label your jars and store your home-made crabapple sauce in a cool, dry place until you’re ready to gobble it up!

I was surprised at how little effort and time was required to make up this tasty treat.  No need to add sugar, either — folks who want a sweeter sauce can add sweetener afterwards, to their liking.  We got about 5.5 litres of sauce from one big stock pot of apples.  Our sauce was a beautiful golden yellow hue because, well, that was the colour of the apples this year!

Crabapples down.  What’s next?  😉

Photo of jars of homemade crab apple sauce

Home-made crabapple sauce. Yum!

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