On Friday November 9th, we got together with our friends at Scadding Court Community Centre and City Councillor / self-professed canning maniac Mike Layton for an afternoon of applesauce making! Sadly, with apple season having come and gone, we had no NFFTT picked apples to bring to the party, but Scadding was able to source some beautiful Ontario-grown red delicious apples for us to use. There was a great turnout from the Scadding community, which meant we had a ton of hands on deck to wash, peel, core, and chop the apples.
Once all the apples had been chopped, we chucked them in a couple big ol’ pots and threw them on the propane burners outside. It was a cold and rainy day and it was chilly work tending the apples as they simmered, but we all warmed up with a home-cooked lunch from Scadding’s excellent community kitchen. While we munched on tempeh wraps and delicious stewed potatoes, Councillor Mike delivered a thoroughly researched presentation on the science of canning, peppered with anecdotes from his years of canning experience. He briefly mentioned a peach earl grey jam that he submitted to this year’s Royal Agricultural Fair – that’s one we’ll have to get the recipe for!
Once the apples were nice and soft, we ran them back inside to be puréed. We made one batch sugar free, as some participants expressed concern over the use of refined sugar in the recipe; the other batch was lightly sweetened, and both were delicious! Keep in mind that sugar is optional when making applesauce, but lemon isn’t as it acts as a natural preservative in addition to giving a great zing of flavour. With both batches prepared, the team started ladling applesauce into 500ml jars, taking care to leave enough headspace at the top of each jar to allow a vacuum to form. When all the jars had been filled and sealed, we dropped them in pots of boiling water to let them process for 20 minutes under the rainy skies. Once all the jars (51 in total) had been processed, they had to rest for the weekend, so they could be taken home by workshop participants on Monday.
Canning workshops are a fantastic way to bring people together to celebrate good food. They build community, strengthen food skills, and increase access to healthy food for participants over the winter months. We all know that applesauce is a cheap staple at grocery stores across the city, but at NFFTT we think there’s something really empowering, positive, and just down right fun about people coming together to make it themselves. Applesauce is probably the easiest possible thing to preserve, and we’re excited to build on the skills built at this workshop to offer more canning workshops at Scadding Court next fruit season!