Oh, people. See this applesauce? A recipe I have made (and canned successfully) a half-dozen times? Today it was a total mess. I nearly threw in the towel multiple times. I should probably not tell you this story at all. But today was the day of good intentions, and the ridiculous, insane sequence of events that followed.
We should probably start with yesterday, a perfect fall day, when Mr. Pea and I set out to go apple-picking. This is not Mr. Pea’s favorite activity, but since we no longer live near my traditional apple-picking buddy, he takes me, so that he gets 1) a happy wife and 2) a pie. Fair enough. But our google directions to the orchard were, uh, flawed, so we got lost in the Connecticut countryside. Not so awesome.
We finally got to the orchard, and the line to pay for apples was, I’m not kidding, nearly the length of a football field. But we put on our happy smiles, enjoyed the lovely weather, and it was fine.
Today I decided to make applesauce. I figured this would take about an hour. I forgot I’d used some of my pint jars for pickles, which are still in the fridge. So I went to Whole Foods to get more. They only had quarts, but whatever, I thought–I’d meant to get some this summer, anyway.
So I got home and set to work–washing, peeling, cooking, sterilizing. That’s when I realized that my jars *just* fit in my hot water canner. They were so close to the top I had doubts about being able to cover them with water for processing. I should have heeded those doubts.
And that’s when I knocked one of my last remaining cherry juice glasses off the counter with my elbow so that it shattered all over the floor. Mr. Pea and I picked it up, and I went back to work. But if you’ve read this a while, you know how sad it makes me when I break them.
After what seemed like forever for my apples to cook down adequately (there were 20 of them, which probably had something to do with it), I fished my jars out of the sterilizing bath, filled them (which made a hell of a mess), and placed them back in the water. I had to heat up more water in a kettle to cover them. I heated the water to a boil…..and water began to splash out, all over the stove, over the stove, onto the floor, splash, splash, hot hot. I had a mild freakout.
I dug out an old stock pot that I thought was tall enough for the jars–and it was, by probably 1/2″ more than the canner. I carefully pulled the jars out of the boiling water, placed them in the stock pot. Then I began to pour the just-under-boiling water in. And it splashed. On the island. On the floor. On me. Ow.
I set it to boil, and after some time, got it to a steady boil without boiling over. Joy. I started making lunch.
After 20 minutes of processing, I pulled the jars out and set them up on a towel. Then the applesauce began to splooge out of the jars and down their sides. What the hell???? I’ve never had this happen before. I thought I’d left plenty of headspace for expansion but evidently not. So now I have jars that are processed, but a mess. You can see it in the photo above. The lids all set, by some miracle, but I’m only hoping that the sauce trapped on the edge of them, between them and the rim of the jar, doesn’t get nasty. I will have to wash these suckers down before storage, though, that’s for sure.
The process was so inordinately stressful and took far longer than it should have, so I’ve decided to camp out on the couch watching football and reading and to order out for dinner, instead of attempting the butternut squash enchiladas I was planning. Tomorrow’s another day.
Oh, and if anyone in New England wants to swap 10 pint jars with lids for 10 quart jars with lids, let’s set up a meeting.