Monday, September 30, 2013


It’s apple time, and this year Indiana and Michigan have had a bumper crop!

We were visiting family this past week, and on Thursday I picked up a few apples to take home.

Most of these will turn into applesauce. My family loves homemade applesauce so much, they’ll go without rather than eat store-bought.

When we lived in Indiana, I would make 70 quarts a year, and they all disappeared by the next summer.

Now, before you think I’ve worked my fingers to the bone peeling and coring apples, let me introduce you to my friend….

We'll call him Victor.... He's a Victorio Strainer, and he's a magician. He made an appearance here at the cafe about a year ago, (here), but it's time for an encore appearance.

Look at that picture again - you put your apples, tomatoes, or whatever in the top, turn the crank, and before you know it, out pops sauce! And the peels and cores go out the other chute :)

This guy is my workhorse. I learned about him from a friend who learned about him from the Amish.

What? You thought the Amish lived in the dark ages? Let me tell you a secret: Just because you live without electricity and automobiles doesn't mean you don't have the finest tools available!

Okay, so here’s the recipe:

Jan’s Homemade Applesauce


1/2 bushel apples
1/4 -1/2 cup lemon juice
Sugar to taste (optional - I only add it if the apples aren't sweet enough)

Before we go any further, let’s look at those apples. The kind of apple you use makes a huge difference in the taste and texture of your sauce. I like to use a combination of Golden Delicious, Jonathan and Macintosh.

The Golden Delicious apples give the sauce body – that nice, smooth, saucy texture – but the flavor is a bit mild for me.

The Jonathans have a nice texture, and the big thing they add is a rosy color. Beautiful!


The Macintosh apples give the sauce its flavor – slightly tangy, super apple-y. But if you use only Macintosh, the texture tends to be a bit watery.

But if you’re able to get all three of these varieties and put them together, you have my signature apple sauce!

Okay, here’s the process:

Wash the apples – at least three times. This gets off all the dust, bug footprints, etc. that your apples have picked up while they were hanging around on the trees.

Cut the apples in quarters and discard the stems. This is a great time to check for less than desirable parts, like worms that tried to sneak in for a free ride to your kitchen (and then out to the compost pile).

Put the apple quarters in a big pot (like a stock pot or your canner) with enough water to cover them and the ¼ cup lemon juice.

Cook the apples until they’re done.

How do you know they’re done? While cooking, the apples start to swell. When they begin to burst – you can tell by the cracks along the side – it’s time to make them into sauce.

These have cooked a little too long....

While the apples are cooking, I get Victor ready…

I forgot to mention that if you don’t have a Victorio strainer, you can use one of these. It’s the same principle, but you need to peel and core the apples first.

Victor doesn’t say much, but he munches those apples down!

Once you have your applesauce made, then it’s time for canning. You can applesauce with the water-bath method (apples are acidic enough to make it safe). I won’t go into the method, but you can read about it here.

My 2009 batch of applesauce (in the Kansas kitchen).

Or you can freeze your applesauce. All you need to do is put your applesauce in a freezer container or bag and stick them in the freezer.

I like to can mine so I can pull one out of the pantry at the last minute – no thawing needed J

So now you know what I'm going to be doing this week...we brought 5 bushels of apples home from Indiana. 

By the way, the van smelled fabulous on the trip home!

Speaking of trips, it's time for a slide show:

E&S Sales in Shipshewana was selling gourds, flowers and pumpkins out in front
of the store. Aren't those mums beautiful?

Do you remember my post on Haystack Suppers
last month? Here. There's one coming up!

And Friday night, on the way home, we stayed right near the Indiana Dunes National Seashore on Lake Michigan. Now this is a Lake :)
A tug with a barge leaving the Port of Indiana.

Itty-bitty waves. The Lake was very calm that evening.

Dunes. The best sand in the world.

This is a small lake behind the dunes - a favorite for migrating waterfowl.

Along with several of these Great White Egrets, we also saw several Sandhill Cranes.
No pictures of them, of course :(

And Thatcher missed us, of course. I think he thought we were gone forever! But after greeting us, getting into everything he could find, and eating a good lunch, he dropped. Poor guy!

You're still here, right?


And Wynter? She jumped into the van while we were unloading and wouldn't get out. She doesn't want us leaving without her again!

Happy applesauce making!


  1. WOW! I'd never head of one of those! I NEED A VICTOR!!

    And love the beach shots. I'm hankering for a vacation. But it's cold here. Not sure where to go now...

    1. Yes, Virginia, you NEED a Victor! I can't imagine doing applesauce or tomato sauce without it. I also have a berry screen to use for blackberry jam (to take all the seeds out).

      Of course, then we moved and left my beautiful blackberries behind....

      And it was 80° the day we were at the Lake, but I used to go there in all seasons when I was growing up. You don't have to swim to enjoy the beach :)

  2. Virginia, I have a Victor... and you can usually find them on Craigs List or at garage sales from older folks who don't can anymore. It's the greatest thing ever.... If Dave starts up his veggie business again next year, I shall drag Victor out and start smushing..... But when I do a small batch, I just peel the apples and make a few quarts at a time. But with a lovely big family, Victor's the way to go. We used to do 100 quarts of spaghetti sauce in tomato season, 30 quarts of tomatoes and 40 + quarts of applesauce when the kids were small and I've got old-time pics of them manning "Victor".... Outside, bundled against the cold of a fall day (weather is not always cooperative and Victor drips.... so we used the picnic table for a lot of the grinding.) Great memories of child labor, LOL!

    1. Why am I not surprised you have a Victor, Ruthy?

      The picnic table is a GREAT idea! We haven't had one until this summer (the children got together to get one for their dad for Father's Day), but it's metal and Victor won't attach to it.

      I should have thought ahead a bit on that, I guess :)

      And my children loved turning the crank on Victor, too! Ah, the days of using them for those kinds of jobs! Kept them busy, Victor productive, and made great memories. Sigh. Maybe I can train my grandchildren...when I have some.

  3. Y'all amaze me. I've never canned a thing in my life. Although, I did help my mom make strawberry freezer jam a few times.

    What a great mix of apples, Jan! I love Macintosh for a tart apple (don't like Granny Smith). Golden Delicious was a favorite of mine growing up. Now I love Fuji and Gala.

    1. I don't think I've found an apple I haven't liked, but like you, I have favorites.

      I love Granny Smith apples for pies - that tart apple taste with the cinnamon and sugar is fantastic.

      And Gala and Jonathan are great eating apples.

      Yeah, I just love apples :)

  4. I miss autumn in Michigan. And I definitely miss the apples. McIntosh have always been my favorite. I like the whole sweet/tart thing they've got going on. Most of all, I miss apple cider. REAL apple cider. They sell stuff here they call cider, but it's way too sweet. Different type of apples, I guess.

    I've never made applesauce, but I'm in awe of Victor. What cool dude.

    1. Mindy! Michigan was beautiful last week! And you wouldn't believe the trees LOADED with apples. They had a great cherry crop this year, too.

      After a couple bad years, fruit in Michigan is wonderful this year.

      I'll let you in on a little secret (don't tell the others - they'll be jealous): I have some REAL apple cider in my refrigerator!!!

      Several years ago (like 15 or so), selling unpasteurized cider was outlawed. Great for people's health, but not so good for those of us who grew up drinking raw cider with its tangy bite.

      But if you happen to know someone who makes their own cider (like my dad does....), you might be able to talk them into sharing a half gallon or so with you :)

      And yes, it's as good as you remember!

  5. My grandmother had a Victor. I was around for applesauce making, blackberry jam making and would have to mush everything around. Loved the smell.

    I need to whip up courage to try canning rather than just freezing batches of things.

    1. Canning doesn't take courage. It only takes a little knowledge. Go to that link about canning I put in the blog, and you'll learn all you need to know!

      You can do it, Julie!!!!

  6. LOL -- grinning over the last three pictures, can you guess why? While apples might be sweeter a certain four-legged bat-ear canine is even sweeter still.

    I'd never thought about canning applesauce. I make bitty servings when the mood strikes -- just enough for one meal. I about fell off my chair when I saw your whack of apples! You are going to be busy!!!

    Victor is awesome. I didn't know there was a species like Victor out there. I might just have to rethink make itty-bitty batches of applesauce if I can find such a stunning sample of Victorliness. :-) Maybe he and Edna can get a long distance romance going.

    Question: sort of related -- What's your go-to apple for pie making?

    1. My favorite apple for pies is the Granny Smith. I love the way the slices stay firm during baking, and the tartness offsets the sweet brown sugar/cinnamon.

      I think I'm going to have to make a pie soon......

      I used to make little batches of sauce - chunky, spicy and sweet - and the perfect ending to an autumn meal!