An alternative to big-batch canning is doing a much more manageable small batch—enough for your turkey dinner and a few jars for gifts. Local apples are still available, and homemade applesauce is one of the easiest recipes for novice canners. This recipe from the University of Illinois Extension Office is easily doubled. Ingredients:
• 8 large apples, peeled, cored and cut into thick slices (any apples may be used, but my favorite is a mixture of Fuji, Granny Smith, and Pink Ladies.)
• 1/2 cup water
• 2 lemon slices
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
• 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Combine apples, water and lemon slices in a large saucepan. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes or until apples are part sauce and with some chunks of apple left. Watch closely and stir often to prevent burning. Applesauce should be thick; add more water if necessary.
Leave sauce chunky or put apples and lemons through a food mill or coarse sieve. Stir in sugar to desired sweetness. Add cinnamon and nutmeg. Serve warm or chilled.
Cover and refrigerate leftovers for up to one week. Yield 5 to 6 cups.
To make unsweetened applesauce: omit added sugar and select a naturally sweet variety such as Golden Delicious, Red Delicious or Gala.
To Can: Pack hot applesauce into clean standard canning jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Seal with 2-piece canning lid and screw band. Process jars for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath. Remove jars, cool, check seals, label and date. Store sealed jars away from sunlight in a cool, dry place for up to one year. (Further instructions on canning are available on the detailed site of Oregon residents and master canners, Paul and Bernice Noll, www.paulnoll.com).