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Applesauce fruit blends

Applesauce is a great thing. It's healthy, it's handy for baking, and kids dig it. Okay, so do I. I've been feeding a lot of it to the baby since our apples started coming ripe earlier this month on our old apple tree. But even a baby likes a little variety, right? So I've started making applesauce fruit blends - combining our sweet apples with strawberries, blueberries, and peaches - and canning them in jars so the whole family can enjoy them in the autumn and winter months to come. There's no added sugar and these sauces can be frozen in freezer containers if you don't want to can them.

To prepare for canning, I heat 5 pint/500 ml mason jars in boiling water and left them in the hot water until ready to be filled. The sealing discs and ring bands were also warmed in a small pot of boiling water and left in the hot water until ready to use.

The water amounts in these recipes range so the sauce can be made thicker or thinner. Generally, you want the water to come about half way up your fruit in the stock pot.

Here's how I made them:

5 lbs apples, cored, quartered (skins on)
2 cups blueberries
2-4 cups water

5 lbs apples, cored, quartered (skins on)
3 cups strawberries, hulled
2-4 cups water

5 lbs apples, cored, quartered (skins on)
2 lbs peaches, pitted, sliced (skins on)
2-4 cups water

For each recipe, I combined the fruit and water in a large stock pot and brought it to a boil over high heat. I reduced the heat to medium and stirred occasionally while the sauce simmered, uncovered, for 25 minutes. This is where the kitchen starts to smell dreamy and delicious. 

Each sauce was then ladled into my chinois and pressed using the wooden dowel (the sauce could also be run through a food mill, food processor, or blender, skins and all). The sauce was then ladled into the jars, leaving a half inch of head space.

Each jar rim was wiped with a clean cloth, and the sealing discs were secured in place with the bands. The jars were processed in the water bath canner, with the tops resting one to two inches inches below the water surface, for 15 minutes. They were removed to cool on the counter and reward me with their POP! I've come to love the sound of a perfect seal. Generally, I leave my jars on the counter for about 12 hours to make sure they seal.

Lately we've been going through a couple jars of applesauce a week, so the couple dozen jars made so far won't last as long as I'd like. S'okay though! There are a lot more apples to come off the tree.

I've been really busy in the kitchen lately. Between the apple tree and the giant zucchinis I'm still trying to use up, I've been at the stove several times each day. I could complain, I suppose, and I do sometimes. It's hard devoting a big chunk of time to canning while taking care of two small kiddies! But I love it. And I love them. Mr. Feedbag gently reminded me this week that they're just apples, and if a few get wasted (or dropped down the side stairs or used as a hockey puck) that's okay. If the baby is crying he needs me in that moment more than he needs homemade applesauce.

Do you find it nearly impossible to commit a chunk of time to a big kitchen project while caring for your kids? What do you do with the kids to get your projects done? What big kitchen projects do you love to take on when you get the chance?