Every year around this time I begin making large quantities of applesauce. Two out of three of my children eat it almost as fast as I can make it. My two year old can’t stand it and even made up a song recently containing the lyrics, “Applesauce, I don’t like apple sauce.” Mediocre lyric writing and distaste for my cooking aside, even she was thrilled to help make this delicious fall treat.
Making applesauce is easy. I am not a good cook, but ever since I was taught how to make it by my mother-in-law many years ago, I have been able to produce edible batches every year. You need apples, of course, and some sugar and cinnamon. That’s it for ingredients! You will also need a large pot, a mixing bowl and a food mill.
I use McIntosh apples, but there other brands of cooking apples that I have used in a pinch. If you are buying from a local orchard, ask for help from the proprietor when selecting your apples. I buy a basket of “seconds” (apples that don’t look perfect, but taste just as good) which are cheaper at my local orchard.
Children can take part in many steps of the applesauce making, the first of which is washing the apples. Give each child a turn rinsing apples and your apples will be washed and ready to cut before you know it.
The next step is to cut the apples. Older children could help with this, but with my crew, I cut the apples myself. Cut each apple in half.
Use a paring knife to cut out the stem and bottom of the apple.
Once the stems and bottoms are removed, cut the apple halves in half again.
Once the apples are cut, you can bring the kids back into the action. I put a small amount of water in the bottom of our largest pot (enough to cover the bottom) and set it on the table. I let the kids each put their own bowl of apples into the pot.
You can fill the pot all the way to the top as the apples will take up less space as they cook.
At this point, it is time to cook the apples until they are soft. Cover the pot and put it over low heat, stirring occasionally.
While the apples cooked, I encouraged the kids to take a closer look at some apples and draw their observations. If you cut an apple in half horizontally, you can see a star inside. This makes a great stamp for painting. After investigating the apples, the kids used paint to make apple prints.
When the apples are done, they will be mushy and easily mashed with a mixing spoon and will look like this.
Place the food mill on a large mixing bowl and place a few scoops of cooked apple into the food mill. This will likely be the best part for the kids! Turn the crank until all that remains are seeds and skin. Scoop out the seeds and skin and discard in trash or compost. Repeat until bowl is full of applesauce.
The finished product will look like this. Since I am not a fan of lumpy applesauce, I love that this method creates a smooth textured sauce. Add sugar and cinnamon to taste and enjoy!
Applesauce can be frozen. I freeze it in mason jars and always save one to go with dinner on Christmas Day.
Spending the day preparing and investigating apples can teach your children about nutrition, the hard work that goes into healthy food preparation, the parts of an apple, how to make and record observations and that they can use unique materials to create art. Making applesauce is not a quick activity, so it is best to make it when you have the day (or at least a good part of it) to spend at home, especially if you want to include the science and art activities in the experience.
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