There’s nothing like a sweet, juicy apple, except maybe a jar of your cinnamon-scented spiced apple rings, served with ham. Or your apple chutney on the holiday goose. Or an apple tart at the summer picnic made with the filling you put up when apples were at their peak.
Tennessee apples are available June 15 through Dec. 1, which gives you plenty of time to can, freeze or dry your bounty. Apples can be canned as juice, apple butter, sliced, as applesauce, as spiced apple rings, and other ways. For canning, select apples that are juicy, crisp, and preferably both sweet and tart. Choose firm apples with even color, free from bruises and with a smooth finish. Call your Extension office for recipes.
Since apples are high-acid foods, they can be processed safely in a water-bath canner. Processing times vary depending on the recipe. Apple butter needs to process in a water-bath canner five minutes for pints; 10 minutes for quarts. Pints and quarts of sliced apples will process in 20 minutes. If you live in an area with altitude above 1,000 feet, contact your extension office about adjustments in processing time.
If canning is not your preference, apples can be frozen. Select full-flavored apples that are crisp and firm, not mealy in texture. Wash, peel and core. Slice medium apples into 12ths, large ones into 16ths. A syrup pack is preferred for apples to be used for uncooked desserts or fruit cocktail. A sugar or dry pack is good for pie making.
To prevent browning, add ½ teaspoon (1,500 mg) ascorbic acid to each quart of syrup. If you are using a sugar pack, dissolve ½ teaspoon (1,500 mg) ascorbic acid in 3 tablespoons water, sprinkle over the fruit. Or, apple slices can be steam blanched for 1 ½ to 2 minutes.
Slice apples directly into syrup in container starting with ½ cup of syrup to a pint container. Press fruit down in containers and add enough syrup to cover. Leave ½ to ¾ inch of headspace for pints and 1 to 1 ½ inches of headspace for quarts. Place a small piece of crumpled water-resistant paper on top to hold fruit down. Seal and freeze.
For a sugar pack, mix 1/2 cup sugar with 1 quart (1 1/4 pounds) of fruit. Pack apples into containers and press fruit down, leaving ½ inch headspace for pints and quarts. Seal and freeze. For dry pack, follow the directions for sugar pack, omitting the sugar.
Home Canner questions:
Q. I want to make apple butter. What kinds of apples should I use?
A. Use Jonathan, Winesap, Stayman, Golden Delicious, Maclntosh, or other tasty apple varieties for good results.
Q. What kinds of apples do you recommend for applesauce?
A. Select apples that are sweet, juicy and crisp. For a tart flavor, add 1 to 2 pounds of tart apples to each 3 pounds of sweeter fruit.
Q. When I can apples, they float to the top. What should I do?
A. Do you can your apples raw? If you do, you are trapping excessive amounts of air. Try using a hot pack method. Boil your apples for 5 minutes before packing them in the jars. Use a rubber spatula or plastic wand to remove as much air as possible before applying the lid.
Q. I like to enter my apples in the fair. What kinds of things do the judges use to decide on a winner?
A. Judges look for fruit pieces that are well-ripened — not overripe, firm yet tender. Their shape should be well preserved and free from blemishes. They look for natural coloring with no brown spots, mold, or discoloring. The liquid should be clear and bright with no sediment, cloudiness or bubbles. Jars should be properly labeled with the appropriate size used for the recommended canning processes. Use clean, clear standard canning jars. No cracks, chips or rust should be present. Use two-piece lids that form a vacuum seal. Headspace for fruits should be ½ inch.
If you have food preservations questions you would like addressed in the “Home Canner’s Column”, write or call me at the local Extension office at 728-7001. We look forward to your questions.