Apple picking is a yearly tradition here. We’ve been going since Isaac could walk – the last three years I guess. He was a late walker. :)
There is something about getting out into nature and picking ones own food that really appeals to me. Sure, we could go to the farmers market and get our apples, but there’s not nearly the fun in that as there is in picking them yourself. And of course it’s not just about getting quality apples for dirt cheap – it’s about creating traditions for our family…and memories for my son. These are things he will remember well into his adulthood and likely forever. And THAT is why I do it all.
So a couple of weeks ago we got out and picked forty pounds of apples at a small, local orchard. We had lots of fun picking apples and we had the place to ourselves. That was a huge bonus for my sensory boy who cannot handle too much stimulation.
We we done our picking in a matter of minutes and then returned home to juice and can. In all honesty, this last part didn’t happen for a few days…but it DID happen. :)
First we started by washing all our apples. That took some time, as you can imagine. :) And sadly, I have NO pictures of the juicing process. It happened fast and the next thing I knew I was done and hadn’t even pulled my camera out. Oops!
I then juiced about 30 pounds of apples. We have a Breville Ikon juicer and while it is a very decent juicer, I did notice the motor was getting a little tired at the end, which is why I didn’t finish the last ten pounds. I didn’t want the thing to die on me.
Once all the apples were juiced I poured the juice through fine mesh metal sieve and into a large pot. I probably did this a few times actually because there is a lot of pectin that rises to the top of the container and I didn’t want that in my juice. But this juice was still of the unfiltered variety – lots of sediment and goodness at the bottom…just not the chunky layer of pectin at the top.
This would be a good time to get your canner filled and on the stove. It needs to be boiling before you can put your jars in and this will take some time so give yourself a half hour or so for this . The lids need only be washed in hot soapy water. Some people place them in boiled (not currently boiling…but still very hot) water. I don’t.
Once all the straining was done I was ready to proceed. I sterilized my jars (a few ways to do this – dishwasher if it has a sterilization setting, or in boiling water for 5 or 10 minutes. My mother in law simply washes hers in hot soapy water. She’s never had a problem) and began heating the juice. You don’t need to boil it down…or “cook” it…you are just looking to get it hot (a light simmer) and keep it there until you have enough jars filled to fill your canner.
Once your juice is hot and your jars are sterilized, start filling them up.No pictures of this either. Ack! Where WAS my head? I placed a wide mouth funnel inside my jar and a small metal sieve over top and used a soup ladle to scoop the juice into my jars. Fill to within 1/4 inch of the top and wipe away any apple residue from the top of jars. Seat the lid and tighten the ring around them. Warning: the juice is very hot…and the jars become hot as well. I almost had a scalding accident, so consider yourself warned. :) Keep something close by the pick up the jars with. You will need it.
Once the jars are filled and your canner is boiling, place the jars into your canner. (I’m assuming you all know what I’m talking about but if you don’t, just ask. I’m happy to elaborate on the details of canning.) When you lower the rack make sure that your cans are covered by at least an inch or two of water. Boil for 5 minutes (at 0-1000 feet) for pints and quarts. Adjust for altitude if need be.
When your five minutes are up, remove jars from canner and let cool. Store in a cool, dark space. Voilà. Apple juice canned and ready to drink from apples you picked yourself. Doesn’t get any better than that, if you ask me. :)