I have a twin. Crazy, huh, especially since we only met about 15 years ago. Okay, so we aren’t biological twins, but we don’t care. We are chosen twins, sisters of the heart, and we love it that way. We have been asked many many times when we are out and about if we are sisters or twins, and we always laugh and say, “YES!” Even our men have seen us out of the corner of their eye and thought we were theirs. It makes us all laugh and is a good story to re-tell at a later date. See? Twins!
We have seen each other through toddlers, teenagers, divorce, illness, sadness, love, loss, pregnancy, marriage, weight loss, weight gain, chicks leaving the nest, job changes, role changes, surgery, and navigating the craziness of life. She has seen me in excruciating pain, and celebrated milestones and accomplishments with me. In return, I convinced her that we should wear bikinis all summer because it’s what our men like and dammit we should celebrate the curvy, stretch-marked bodies we have! She gets me, and I get her. We can see each other every day, or go a few weeks without so much as a text and pick up at our next heartbeat- I love that! Life is crazy, family and jobs pull us in a million directions, and that’s okay with us. We know that however and whenever we see each other next will be perfect timing.
Many many years ago when we were starting to realize we might be twins, I told her that I can only have friends that can come over when my house is sparkling clean or should be condemned by the health department, and not care either way (I had 3 teenagers and was pregnant at that point and I was exhausted!) She responded, “YES!!!!!” and we laughed hard and knew we were going to be friends forever. No one needs friends we have to impress, or put on a show for, or not let them see us vulnerable and tired. Friends, REAL friends, will have a cup of coffee on the living room floor surrounded by landmines of toys and talk with you over the roar of little ones. They will come over when you are sick and bring you soup and play with your toddlers so you can shower or nap. This girl will show up at your house the day of an event with a bucket of cleaning supplies and clean with you so you can visit while you prepare. THAT is a twin, that is my twin. And of course, we also have adventures.
Applesauce was one of those adventures. As you all know, I have been on a canning kick for a few months, so applesauce was a clear choice for the next thing to tackle. Fall is my favorite season, favorite color, favorite smell, favorite flavor. I love it all! Apples, of course, are one of my 2 favorite crops of this harvest season. Apple pie, apple crisp, Grandma Rose’s Apple Crisp Pie, Apple-Cinnamon muffins and bread, apple butter, and of course applesauce. I remember my mom making and canning applesauce a time or two when I was growing up, and it was delicious! What a treat to pop open a big ole jar of cinnamon applesauce when it’s totally out of season and have it with dinner! YUM! That is what I wanted to do, so I got online and looked for some recipes. Apples, sugar, and a little liquid of some sort were the basics. You know me, I wasn’t okay with that, so I went rogue and started peeling. I thought about what I wanted out of this experience, what I wanted to taste, and how I wanted it to feel. I wanted to experience apple pie, so that’s what I did. I pulled out my peeler/corer/slicer and realized that the peeler blade was broken- ugh! So I went online and ordered replacement parts and got to work using my apple corer/sectioner. About 6# of apples were sectioned/peeled and cut into chunks. Then I added 1 1/2 cups of apple juice, 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, a metric crap-ton of cinnamon, and threw it all into my 6 quart cast iron dutch oven over medium high heat. After 5-10 minutes, the apples had reduced a bit and I turned down the heat to medium and continued to cook and stir occasionally for another 20-25 minutes. The kitchen smelled like heaven and I couldn’t wait to taste test. I used a potato masher on my first batch like one recipe said to do, but it took forever and I thought it made it have an uneven texture. I love chunky applesauce, but that wasn’t the texture I was getting, so I gave up on that and moved to my blender. That was a good move. I ended up with a smooth texture, which is also delicious, and the process was so easy.
My second round I went a little easier on the cinnamon because not everyone in the world loves it to the extent that I do. Since I want to share what I make, I thought a balance would be good, and I can vary the batches as I go. Superman started eating a pint of applesauce each night for dessert, so I decided that 1/2 pint jars may be a good investment and a delicious addition to his lunch cooler. The following week Little Guy decided that 1/4 pint jars would be perfect for his lunch, so we got 24 of those and went to work. Superman even got Little Guy his own bottle/jar opener to keep in his lunch bag for school. By week 2 I figured out a consistency and recipe I liked, so I stuck with it and varied the cinnamon when the mood struck me. The replacement parts for my peeler/corer/slicer also came in, so the process became much less labor-intensive. That thing is a God-send! Quinn is also a big fan of that machine because it spits out the most perfect slices of apple, and I will give her one every now and then.
Knowing my twin is always up for a fun project, and since she liked the applesauce I gave her to try, I invited her over to make a couple batches. She brought over her youngest daughter and she and Little Guy spent the day hanging out and playing and causing mischief. She and I got to work on a cocktail and started grabbing everything we needed to get creating. I explained the process I use and showed her how to use the apple peeler/corer/slicer, which she couldn’t wait to try. That quickly became her job, and she kept me quartering sliced apples till the pot was about overflowing. Going from my 1st ever batch to this batch with the use of the apple machine was a difference of night and day, but having the apple machine AND 2 people in the 3rd weekend was revolutionary. Holy cow did we make quick work of that 10 lb bag of apples! Because of her, we had apple goodness bubbling on the stove in no time flat. Then it was time to sit down and chat while the apples cooked down and filled the house with the most incredible fragrance. During the 35-40 minute cook time, we stirred several times, mixing the cinnamon and brown sugar and making sure everything was cooking evenly. About halfway through the cook time, we started the canning pot boiling. When it was finally boiling we sterilized all of the jars, lids, and rings and set them upside down on a double layer of dishtowels to drain and stay hot.
It was finally time to make the apple mush into applesauce. The easiest way I found to do that was with my blender. I ladle half of the goodness into the blender, secure the blender lid, and start processing it low, then increase the speed slowly until it’s smooth, probably 30-60 seconds total?? Check the consistency and blend a few seconds longer if you want. Do the same thing with the second half of apple goodness, then it’s time to put applesauce in the jars and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Carefully remove the jars from boiling water with a canning jar removal tool (they are wonderful!) and place on the double dish towels to seal and cool. If any lids spring back after 24 hours just throw them in the fridge and eat in the next few days. I’m sure you could also get a neighbor to take a jar off your hands when they find out it’s homemade. I have never had a jar not seal, but I hear it happens on occasion. I absolutely love hearing that “POP!”
We twins spent the day making 25 lbs of applesauce, which was 3 very large batches. Before she left my house, we made a plan to do the same thing the next weekend so she would have a supply to share and savor at home. By that time we were a well-oiled machine, and the process was so much faster, more efficient, and was so much more fun than my first applesauce day because we did it together. Together is always better, and work done with a friend is always more fun than work done alone. This time we tackled 38 lbs of apples- 4 large batches of applesauce, which made a TON! We got apples from a different place this time, and they were bigger than the previous batches, which didn’t look like a problem at the time. Unfortunately, the mass and size of the bigger apples was too much for my apple peeler machine, so we had to do some of those huge ones by hand. Still, having 2 people working made the process faster and enjoyable. We never had any issue with “normal” sized apples from previous times, so I added apple size to the list of things I didn’t know about when I started making applesauce, and we kept going. What a great day! Jars lined up on the counter cooling and sealing (POP) and a day full of fun.
You may be thinking, “What kind of apples do I buy?” Different recipes call for different apples, I assume it’s based on your preference. You want an apple that will cook down, so texture wise I would stay away from Jonathan and Granny Smith, but their flavor is delicious, so if texture isn’t a thing to you and you love Granny Smith, then make a small batch and try it. Remember, make what you like rather than what some recipe says you have to use. I view apple choice the same way as I view the amount of cinnamon I add- everyone has different tastebuds and preferences. My preference, so far at least, is Honeycrisp apples. I can eat those bad boys every single day, and I do when they are in season. I absolutely love Honeycrisps! They are so amazing- sweet, crisp, clean, juicy, delicious. They don’t need anything added to them to be amazing, and I love that. If I love to eat them that much, why not make applesauce out of them? So I did!
- 1 sister/friend/twin
- 8 lbs Honeycrisp apples- cored, peeled, sliced
- 2 Cups Apple juice
- 1-2 Tablespoons Cinnamon depending on personal preference
- 1 1/2 Cups Dark Brown Sugar
Peel/core/slice apples, then quarter. Place into 6qt or 8 qt cast iron dutch oven or heavy dutch oven. Add cinnamon, apple juice, and dark brown sugar. Trust me on the dark brown sugar, it creates such an incredible flavor. Don’t attempt to stir, just give it 5 minutes of cooking and you’ll have room to stir. Start cooking over medium heat, then lower to medium-low when it gets going. While stirring occasionally, let apples simmer uncovered 30-40 minutes until very tender. Transfer half of the cooked apple mixture into good quality blender (I have a VitaMix Professional Series 300) and pulse or blend at low speed working your way up to medium until you get your desired texture. Blend 2nd half of apple mixture the same way, then combine both blended batches in dutch oven that is over low heat and stir to combine. Quickly pour into sterilized canning jars, leaving 1/4″-1/2″ head space, then put on lid and ring, hand tighten. Place jars into canning pot over a rolling boil and process for 10 minutes. Carefully remove jars from water using a jar lifter and place onto kitchen towels. Re-tighten rings using a dish towel to protect your hands from the heat, then set aside and wait up to 24 hours to cool and seal completely (pop!).
Making applesauce is not as easy as opening a jar from the store, but I promise store-bought applesauce will taste like garbage once you have had homemade. It is not a difficult process, nor will it take you all day, and I guarantee you will love the results. I spent 5 out of the last 6 weekends making applesauce and I know it will not last us until next fall- my boys love it way too much to let that happen. I have allocated a fair amount of jars for sharing and gifting. This is just one more delicious way to show your love and gratitude with food. A gift like this is truly from the heart because it is a gift of time and excellent flavor. It can be stored and saved for months down the road, or as a show-stopping side dish at the next holiday. Sharing this experience with a dear twin, or anyone you love to hang out with, will create sweet, delicious memories.
Have an amazing Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year’s season, and be sure to spend time with the ones whose friendship feeds your soul and nourishes your heart.