A Picture Guide for Canning Applesauce

After having participated in upwards of over 10 applesauce making days, there is one thing I can say for certain about my husband’s family: they  take their applesauce seriously. I’m talking 6 bushels of apples made into sauce and canned for the coming year’s use within 7 hours. Other people who can applesauce usually wonder how we can get all those apples canned so quickly, so here’s a glimpse of how we made applesauce this past Saturday – Miller Style.

1. Proper Preparation – this first step is 2 parts, and both parts are optional but will help you achieve maximum efficiency and speed during your marathon canning day.

Part A – Spend the evening before you plan to can your applesauce relaxing, gaining energy for the coming morning. One of the best ways to relax as well as to prepare mentally and physically for the next day is a campfire. (Actually I think a campfire is the best way to kick off every weekend, but I’ll take what I can get.)

We hone our cooking skills, which we’ll obviously be put to good use.

We concentrate on carb loading since we’ll need lots of energy.

Alice's first smore

And of course, we make sure to get a full night’s sleep…. plus more if we can.

Part B: Before beginning anything on your canning day, make sure you have a “food plan” for the day. The menu for applesauce day is the main motivator for some of us Millers to come help… because we get to eat amazing food all day long. This year it started in the morning as my mother-in-law prepared apple dumplings with help from some others.

Daniel demonstrates his apple peeling abilities... who knew? Not I.

More about the menu later on; but as I have learned from the Millers, the menu can make or break your day.


Step 2: Wash the apples. We like using a mixture of apples. This year’s sauce was Cortland, Jonathan, Jonagold and Crispin.

Often the littlest people enjoy this job the most. Bring a full change of clothes for them.



Step 3: Quarter the apples… watch those fingers!



Step 4: Begin cooking the apples as soon as there are enough cut to keep the pots full.

Eric claims his cooking abilities are almost non-existent; however he is the master apple cooker in the family.

(At this point, you may begin to notice an essential part of making the process efficient is the equipment… a cut-off 55 gallon drum for washing apples, 5 gallon food-grade buckets for holding quartered apples and later applesauce, a second stove brought in to cook and later can at the same time, and a tarp on the kitchen floor for easy cleanup. I’m told this family has spent years “perfecting” this process and acquiring this equipment.)

When your cooked apples look like this, it’s time to break out the cone.

Step 5: Press the apples through the cone into a 5 gallon bucket. (I did not get the best picture of this process, but hopefully you get the idea.)

Once you have enough hot applesauce to feed to your work crew at lunch time, eat when needed. Some family members admittedly come to applesauce day just so he/she can eat  skillet, a macaroni, hamburger, bean, onion, tomato juice, cheese and seasoning bit of heaven that is always! on the menu.

Since this apparently wasn’t enough good food, dumplings came next.

Step 6: Stir in as little sugar as possible using the “canoe paddle” (an extra large wooden spoon Eric made which is long enough to stir a 5 gallon bucket).

Step 7: Prepare the jars for canning

Step 8: Can it. We use 3 canners on 2 stoves, so even this step goes relatively fast.

Total output – 95 quart in approximately 7 hours, a delicious smelling, warm house, lots of laughter, even some singing (and of course hands that are sore from cutting). Total calories consumed for the day – I’ll think about that tomorrow.

Step 9: Celebrate. Ok so this isn’t a prescribed Miller  way to end the canning day. But this year we were given tickets for Hershey Park to use this weekend. Since we were canning on Saturday, we made our way to the sweetest place on earth Sunday morning. This was Ian’s first time at an amusement park, and Alice’s second. We all had a blast, but Alice had a very momentous day!

Alice lost her first tooth while waiting in line to drive the classic cars on the turnpike.

As I like to put it, she lost her first tooth, and five minutes later she drove her first car. Wow – that went way! too fast!

Next came the big rigs…. slow down life!

What a great day! A HUGE “thank you” to SG and LH for the tickets!!



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