Keeping with the theme of Monday’s post, I wanted to share another item that Nick and I made for our Holiday Gift baskets this year: Instant Pot Homemade Applesauce. If you have yet to hear about Instant Pots, they are cooking appliances that offer numerous functions in one. We have had ours for a year and a bit now. We use it often to make things we never would have imagined before picking it up.
The Instant Pot
The one we have is linked here. It holds 8-quarts and is large enough to do anything your heart might desire. There are smaller ones that take up less space, however, if you do not see yourself utilizing the 8-quart capacity. The Instant Pot does everything from slow cooking to sauteeing to pressure cooking. It has a warming setting, a steam setting and can also double as a rice cooker. It is great for use as a pressure cooker when you are low on time and need to get a dish onto the table. Since we are vegetarian, one of the biggest bonuses we have found is the speed with which it cooks beans.
We also use it often in combination with this handy strainer to make thick and flavourful greek yogurt. I can post more about that later if you like. It is amazing and so healthy because you completely control what ingredients go into it. My Mom has used hers to make vanilla extract for everyone. I think that might be another venture we try this year if we don’t run out of time.
The Apple Orchard
A couple of weekends ago, we got up early and headed out to an apple orchard called Chudleigh’s about 40 minutes from here. It is a wonderful place to take children in the fall if you have any. There is a massive wooden jungle gym with slides, an area you can rent out for private parties, a retail store where you can just wander in and pick up some apples or pre-made pies or apple blossoms. There are also decorations and pumpkins everywhere in the fall.
What to do at the Orchard
The farm has a fairly large petting zoo with lots of staff walking around to keep an eye on things and ensure there aren’t any issues. One thing we were unsure of before going, but can now confirm after being there is that you can take your dogs with you. Some areas are off-limits for your furry friends.
In total, it cost us about $60 for admission and to purchase the apples we picked. You are able to enter the retail store without paying admission, though if you are just looking for some apples or delicious baked treats. Here is a link to their admission prices page if you are interested.
They offer wagon rides out to the orchard. From where they leave you, you can enjoy a crisp fall wander while picking your own apples. There is ample opportunity for playing outdoors. Another bonus: getting the perfect fall themed Instagram shot before you head home to make Instant Pot Homemade Applesauce.
We spent about three hours wandering around and picking apples. At the end of our adventure, we came away with 2 fairly large bags of Nothern Spy and Mcintosh apples.
Instant Pot Homemade Applesauce Recipe
To make one batch of applesauce, we peeled, cored and sliced 8 apples.
As you cut them up, pour some lemon juice over them to keep them from browning. This little device from Ikea made the coring and cutting process go a lot faster. It is available on Amazon as well, in case you aren’t able to find it in stores in Ikea. We have had it a long time. I find it effortless to use when there isn’t a peel on the apple so it is perfect for apple pie or applesauce, but it requires more effort if you are making something that lets you leave the peels on.
Adding all Ingredients to the Pot
Toss the 8 prepared apples that are covered in about 2Tbsp of lemon juice into the instant pot. Pour a cup of water in with the apples. Add about 3/4 to a teaspoon of cinnamon. You could add more or less depending on how much you enjoy cinnamon.
Cooking Instant Pot Homemade Applesauce
After everything is in the pot, just add the lid on top. Ensure the vent nozzle is closed. This way, the steam does not escape and the pot can get up to the right pressure. Next, push the “manual” button on the front of the pot and set it to high pressure. Next, adjust the time you want it to cook to 8 minutes.
For the first batch, we opened the vent manually when the Instant Pot was finished cooking the apples. We had apple juice and apple chunks flying everywhere and the kitchen was a sticky mess. The sauce turned out really well but was a little bit thicker. We lost some of the juice. I do not recommend taking that approach. The best way to do it is to turn the Instant Pot off after it tells you it is finished. Leave it for half an hour or 45 minutes so it can vent on its own time. This avoids the mess and gives you a bit more of a traditional applesauce consistency. The final result is a sweet and flavourful applesauce that you know excludes any added sugar.
In this close-up image, you can easily see chunks of apple and flecks of cinnamon floating in an apple juice base. We left ours like this because we enjoy the pieces of fruit. If you are looking for a smoother consistency, you just need to blend it in a blender.
Since we are keeping the Instant Pot Homemade Applesauce for a few months, we decided to preserve it. One batch (8 apples, 2 Tbsp of lemon juice, 1 cup of water and 3/4 of a tsp of cinnamon) yielded 2 and a half jars (about 5 cups) of sauce.
To preserve the sauce, heat the mason jars in the oven at 225 degrees f for about 10 minutes. After that, boil the lids in a pot of boiling water while the applesauce in the Instant Pot is venting. When the applesauce is ready (and still hot), pour it into the hot jars. Put the lids on them straight out of the boiling water. You need to be very careful when following this method, but all of the jars sealed properly. You can hear them popping as they seal within a few hours of closing the jars.
Backup Plan if Additional Apples are required
We ran out of apples before making enough Instant Pot Homemade Applesauce to pass around over the holidays. This past weekend we went to an even more local apple orchard, Martin’s, and purchased a huge bag of Mcintosh apples. We wanted to finish what we started. We followed the same process but needed at least twice the apples we had picked up initially. On top of making applesauce, we made jars of apple butter in the Instant Pot to share as well. Since this post is already long and detailed, I will do another post next week about the apple butter process and how it turned out.
So far for the gift baskets, we have some raspberry jam, strawberry jam, Instant Pot Homemade Applesauce, and apple butter. These are all items we could make ahead of time to save us time rushing around closer to December. How do you like to enjoy your holidays? Have you already started to think about what you will do? Are you someone who works better under pressure of the last minute run-around? Thanks for stopping by! I hope you have been able to take advantage of some wonderful seasonal outdoor activities before the weather scares everyone indoors for a few months.