As autumn approaches, apple trees are soon to burst with delicious fruit. With many apples ripening at the same time, it can be difficult to use them all before they spoil. Canning apples is an excellent way to preserve your harvest and can be done easily at home. This article will teach you how to can apples, providing step-by-step instructions and tips for success.
The Benefits of Canning Apples
Canning apples carries many benefits, including keeping the nutritional properties of the fruit intact, as the canning process locks in important vitamins and minerals. It allows you to enjoy apples all year round, as canning ensures that the fruit stays fresh for many months. Moreover, it reduces food waste and saves money by allowing you to use your apple harvest for longer.
Choosing the Right Apples
The first step in any canning process is selecting the right ingredients. Not all apples are created equal when it comes to canning. Some apples are better suited to cooking, while others are perfect for eating fresh. When canning apples, it is best to use firm and tart varieties. Such apples hold a good shape and retain their flavor and texture when preserved. Examples of great canning apples include Rome, Jonagold, and Jonathan.
How to Prepare Apples for Canning
After you’ve selected the best apples, it’s essential to prepare them carefully. The following steps outline how to prepare apples for canning:
- Wash your apples well in warm water and a little vinegar to remove dirt and bacteria.
- Peel and core the apples, then cut them into desired sizes. Large chunks of apples take longer to process. Small chunks are faster to process, but they are not as aesthetically pleasing in a jar as larger chunks.
- Drop the chopped apples into cold water with a bit of lemon juice to prevent browning. Leave them to soak while preparing the jars, lids, and syrup.
Preparing the Canning Jars and Lids
It is crucial to get your jars and lids ready before you start filling them with apples. Here’s how:
- Wash jars, lids, and screw bands in hot soapy water and rinse well. Then keep them in hot but not boiling water to keep them warm.
- Keep the jars warm in a large pot of hot water over low heat. Make sure that the pot is big enough to hold all the jars that you are using and submerged them in water by about 1 inch.
- Soak a few extra lids in hot water just before using them, as the adhesive needs to be soft enough to create a seal.
Making the Syrup
The type of syrup you use in your canning determines the sweetness and texture of your preserved apples. Here are the steps to make a sugar syrup:
- Pour four cups of sugar and three cups of water into a pot and bring to a boil.
- Stir frequently until the sugar dissolves, then reduce heat to a simmer.
- Add one-third cup lemon juice or vinegar and stir thoroughly.
There are other methods of preserving apples without sugar syrup, such as apple-juice-only preserving. However, sugar syrup is recommended as it gives the fruit an appealing texture, color, and flavor.
Filling the Jars with Apples and Syrup
After you have prepared your apples and syrup and sterilized your jars, it is time to fill them. This is a crucial stage in canning as it affects the overall appearance and quality of your preserved apples. Follow these steps:
- Fill clean, sterilized jars with chopped apples, leaving an inch of headspace. Headspace refers to the gap between the level of the food and the rim of the jar.
- Slowly pour syrup over the apples, leaving a half-inch of headspace.
- Remove air bubbles by sliding a plastic knife or a wooden spoon between the apples and the jar’s side. Do not use metal as it can damage the jar.
- Ensure that the rim of the jar is clean and screw the lid onto the jar with a finger-tight seal. Do not over-tighten the lid.
Processing the Jars
To process jars, it is essential to ensure food safety during storage. This kills harmful bacteria, extends shelf life, and maintains the quality of the apples.
Place the filled jars into boiling water, making sure that they are entirely covered with water. Boiling water canning is the most common method for canning apples. Here is how to do it:
- Place the jars into a large canning pot with a rack on the bottom to keep jars from resting on the pot’s bottom.
- Ensure that the jars are covered with at least one inch of water.
- Bring the water to a rolling boil and let it continue boiling for 20 to 30 minutes.
- Turn off heat, remove jars from water using a jar lifter, and let them cool on a cloth or board. Do not disturb them while they’re cooling down, as any movement can cause the seal to break.
Storing the Jars
After the jars have cooled, check the seal on the lid by pushing down on the center of each lid. If the lid pops up and down, it did not seal correctly. These jars can either be reprocessed immediately or refrigerated for immediate use. If the center does not move, your canning was a success. Store the jars in cool, dark, and dry conditions for extended shelf life.
Tips for Success
Here are some tips that will help you be successful in canning apples:
- Use firm and tart apples, such as Rome or Jonathan, for the best results.
- Prepare the apples carefully and select the correct size for the jar, as this will affect processing time and presentation.
- Make sure your jars and lids are clean and sterilized before filling. Use fresh lids and inspect each jar’s seal after processing.
- Use a timer and do not over or under-process the jars.
- Store the jars correctly, as this affects the quality of the fruit.
The Bottom Line
Preserving apples can be a fun and rewarding way to enjoy the delicious fruit all year round, reducing food waste and saving money. With a little preparation, you can successfully can your apple harvest, which can be stored with ease for months. Stick to these guidelines, and you’ll have lovely jars of preserved apples that you can enjoy anytime.
Q: Can I use any type of apple for canning?
A: While any apple can be canned, firm and tart varieties, such as Rome, Jonathan, and Jonagold work best, as they retain their flavor and texture when preserved.
Q: Can I preserve apples without sugar syrup?
A: Yes, there are alternative methods of preserving apples without sugar syrup, such as apple-juice-only preserving, but sugar syrup is recommended as it gives the fruit a better texture, color, and flavor.
Q: How do I know if my jars have properly sealed?
A: After the jars have cooled, check the lid handles by pushing down on the center of each lid. If it pops up and down, the jar didn’t seal correctly. These jars can either be reprocessed or refrigerated for immediate use. If the center does not move, your canning was a success.
Q: How long can canned apples be stored?
A: Canned apples can be stored for up to a year in cool, dark, and dry conditions. However, it’s best to consume them within a few months to ensure the best quality.
Q: Can I reuse canning lids?
A: No, lids need to be used only once. The sealing compound can’t be restored after time and heat processing. It’s important to use new lids each time you can.