I love the fall! The colors start changing and the leaves begin to cover the yard. Kids go back to school, family gather for holidays, and a light, crisp chill hits the air reminding me to enjoy the season before winter comes to erase the year away.
But the biggest reason I love fall is for all the bountiful fruits and veggies that abound!
Fresh produce is one of things I enjoy about living in rural Colorado. You don’t have to go very far to find a veggie stand with zucchini, squash, vine ripened tomatoes, and lettuce. Or just take a short drive east and you’ll find a sign for “You Pick…” apples, peaches, pears, apricots, berries, etc….
But the thing about fresh is – fresh isn’t fresh forever! Sad Day…
Thankfully my folks were both avid food preservationists and instilled in me the knowledge to preserve fresh food for my own family. Thus was born my passion for canning! A passion I happily can pass on to the youth I work with!
Life Skills Girls Learn to Can Applesauce!
This last week I joined the Life Skills girls group again to teach them about food preservation. We discussed the difference between fresh food and preserved food and why preserving food now allows for long term storage later.
After all, who doesn’t want to crack open a can of homemade applesauce in January, when apples are scare in Colorado?
Applesauce is pretty simple to make and can at home, and has a shelf life of about 1+ years. We took our recipe from the National Center for Home Food Preservation website (see direct recipe link below) because it’s important when canning to always use an Approved (Tested) Recipe from a reputable source.
The science behind canning has to due with heat treatment (or heat/pressure treatment if using a pressure caner). Everything you place inside a jar for canning must be heated fully to a certain temperature and then held at that temperature for a determine length of time. This high heat for X amount of time is what preserves the food and kills off any illness causing bacteria that might be present. Approved recipes have been tested to meet the heat/time requirements needed to keep the food you are preserving safe! Always can with an approved and up to date recipe!
Back to applesauce! The girls helped skin, core, and slice the apples and then cooked them up into a big batch. Applesauce can be made smoother by running it through a food mill, but since I don’t have one presently (Christmas Present???), we opted for chunky applesauce from the blender!
The girls were each able to fill a pint jar with the sauce and place it in the water bath caner. Apples have a lower pH which also helps to kill off any tag a long bacteria still in the product. Processing takes time and we have to add additional time to make altitude adjustments (Most recipes are for sea level to 1000ft – We are canning at 4,875ft). Going up in altitude means we have to wait a few more minutes for things to cook, no problem!
Unless you have a bunch of applesauce hungry girls on your hands, then waiting is FOREVER!!!! So they do dishes to pass the time.
All Done! We opened an extra jar and poured it out. We like to add some zing to applesauce in our family so we melted in some Hot Tamale candies and everyone enjoyed! HINT: For a tasty treat, try dipping corn chips into your applesauce!
Food preservation can help you enjoy the fruits of the summer, no matter what season. For these girls, hopefully they will see how saving the bounty of food now to eat it later can help them provide for their families one day too!
Link to Applesauce recipe and MORE Approved Recipes:
For more information about home food preservation or canning classes, contact our Family and Consumer Science Agent, Ann Duncan. Ann.Duncan@colostate.edu or by phone at 970-249-3935.
Keep on STEM’in!