It started with the craving to go apple picking a few weeks ago. Actually, no –  it probably started when we made the pickles. I had never made pickles before, so when I went to get the stuff to do it, I really had no idea what I needed, and I overbought like zomg. Which is to say, I picked up three different sizes of jars, a box each, and then we had a ton of jars left over.* And of course, I was like, We need to do something with these! What goes in a jar??

So when the urge to go pick apples hit, I totally took it up on its business, and we went to Stowe’s. We usually go there once a year, in October, to pick out pumpkins and check out the petting zoo. I think we’ve been doing this every weekend before Halloween since Man Cub was four (three?)** and it’s a really nice afternoon – we buy ice cream cones filled with feed and get mobbed by the goats, we check out the ponies and the chickens, and choose pumpkins to bring home and carve. We almost always come home with an apple pie or a jug of cider. I don’t know why it never occurred to me that we should go apple picking. But this year we did, and it was totally fun. After we’d filled our bushel bag from the tree, and fed groundfalls to the horses across the street, we headed home, where the bag intimidated me for a week.

23 pounds of apples is a lot of apples! I took some to work for lunch, Man Cub took some to school for his. We fed slices to his pet rat. And I made plans to turn them into sauce.

The problem being, I had no idea how to make sauce. I checked out recipes on the interwebs and managed to get confused – everyone has their own recipe, and everyone has a different amount of water they add to the pot. Some people keep the skin. Some people put them through a food mill. Some people add sugar, some don’t. Everyone insists on a particular kind of apple. I forgot what kind of apples we’d picked almost as soon as I was told. Our apples wound up being a variety that’s a little more tart than sweet – good eating apples, but no clue from me how they would do as sauce, right? So I read a bunch more recipes, and decided that I would make stuff up. ‘Cos that’s how I roll.

Then I remembered the Big Issue from when we made pickles – the gear. I picked up the tools when I picked up jars, so that was covered – tongs, the stick with the magnet on the end, the plastic thingsy you use to get air bubbles out of the jar. But the pots we have in the house, as big as they look when filled with stew, just aren’t so big when you fill them with jars. Will found me in the kitchen with a bunch of jars and the largest pot we own, doing the math on how many half-pint jars would fit, and he was all like, Um, maybe we should go to Target..? I had in mind to pick up smaller jars, but he had a different idea.

Behold the Behemoth –
21 quarts of water fit in that pot on the right. Also, it came with a wire rack that you set the jars in, which made things osomuch easier than one at a time with the tongs when we did the pickles.***

So I steamed my apples in the end – I didn’t trust the idea of adding water, not finding two recipes that added the same amount  – until the ones at the top were fork tender. † I added fennel and cinnamon and a little brown sugar (dude, even cooked, the apples were still tart) to one batch, and fresh nutmeg and cinnamon and brown sugar to the other. Out of the bushel, we got a dozen half-pints and whole three pints of applesauce – not bad. Not bad at all =)

And now we may have to go back out and pick more apples, as the jars are going fast.

***

*I severely underestimated how many cucumbers we had on hand.
**One year he let the goats out of the enclosure – ALL the goats. Then Will spent the next twenty minutes chasing and cajoling the goats back into the enclosure. Good Times.
***That little plastic basket you can get with a set? Not so great for novice canners. Just sayin’.
†3/4 of the bushel, peeled and quartered, fit in my largest pot on top of the steamer. By the time the apples on the top were fork tender, the ones on the bottom were pretty squishy – which, I’m delighted to tell, was perfect for making applesauce with chunks. I like my applesauce with chunks.

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