Just trying to figure a few things out

kalindi615September 12, 2012

I was hoping someone (ahem... Dave or Carol maybe wink wink...) may be able to explain a few things to me.

So obviously it is apple week. I have done applesauce, apple butter, and am now working on apple jelly.

I followed Ball's Complete Book Of Home Preserving and did applesauce first. Pretty simple. Apples - lemon juice, I don't use sugar it is optional and most this is eaten by my 2 and 3 year olds and they don't need any more sugar to out run me. Process 20 minutes. Ball states lemon juice is NOT optional it is needed for added acidity.

Next sweet apple cider butter. Also pretty simple and I also opted for their low sugar option - 6lb apples - 2 cups sweet apple cider - 1 cup honey - cinnamon - cloves. Process 10 minutes.

Now, my confusion lies in the fact that apple butter gets cooked down to a much thicker consistency than applesauce. I can only assume that the sweet apple cider is somewhat acidic, but it is also mostly apples so how acidic could it be and how do they know what the acidity level is of ALL apple cider. And there is a variation at the bottom of the recipe for the "traditional" version which does not use any cider and just uses water and does not increase the processing time any. 10 minutes just seems very short.

This is for my own curious mind. I have already processed the jars for 20 minutes for my own piece of mind. I figured it cooked down on the stove for so long a little longer in the water bath couldn't hurt it too much for me not to worry about feeding it to my toddlers.

Also, I had another thread where I inquired about a low sugar apple jelly recipe. (I am really no a horrible mother who never lets her kids eat sugar, we just prefer our sugar in things like cake and cookies.) Anyway, planatus responded and gave me her recipe using Pamona Pectin and pointed out that Pamona Pectin said you had to use lemon juice. I went to their web site and they do say that for tart apples you don't, but for sweet apples (unless I am translating their "recipe card" incorrectly) you need to use 1/4 cup lemon juice for every 4 cups apple juice. This makes me wonder why Ball doesn't tell me this. I am going to add the lemon juice because it makes sense that if they want me to add it when I make applesauce with or without sugar, then it would be warranted in a low sugar jelly right?

My plan for my apple jelly tomorrow is:

8 cups apple juice

1/2 cup lemon juice


2 cups sugar

Does anyone see a problem with this plan or have a suggestion?

Again, thanks in advance for your help. You all have been a great help.


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readinglady(z8 OR)

I would surmise that Ball is insisting upon lemon juice in applesauce to cover their ahem . . . bases because some people use windfall or bruised apples for sauce and their nicer tree-picked apples for slices, pie fillings, etc. where appearance is a factor.

Ball is being risk-averse, which makes sense. Windfall and bruised apples have a higher pH meaning those apples are somewhat less acidic. Lemon juice counteracts that, so regardless of the apples you use, the product will be fine. The NCHFP doesn't require lemon juice, so it's your call.

Apple butter has a higher sugar content and less water because it's cooked down. Sugar is hygroscopic (binds water). Since water activity is also a factor in safety, anything which reduces it also reduces risk. So while it is denser there are compensating factors.


    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 10:43PM
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I think your instincts were right on the apple butter and you did well to prolong the processing time. I can never tell how hot that stuff is when it goes into the jars since it's too thick to boil. Yet it's so dense that the laws of physics suggest a longer processing time, right? Nothing to lose by erring on the side of safety.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2012 at 7:59AM
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Thank you both. I hadn't considered the water factor Carol. I was just thinking thicker is worse for heat penetration especially since I was going for the low sugar honey version and there was no extra processing time. But that does make a lot of sense. I am with Planatus though, for my own piece of mind, and because I am feeding it to two toddlers as well as two adults, I will err on the side of caution and over process this one a little until I am more comfortable. I did produce exact yields on this one, but I usually tend to over produce by one jar almost everything I have to reduce down. I never seem to reduce anything exactly right. I have always been afraid of over reducing and having a density issue that I haven't yet been afraid of not reducing enough. (great, now I have a new fear!) I know, they test these recipes for a certain amount of yield failure, but I am a bit of a paranoid person until I know I REALLY know what I am doing. (I get the feeling that could take a long time).

Thanks again for all the help.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2012 at 10:10AM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

I forgot to even address that issue, but I actually process my apple butter for a longer time also. Apple butter won't be changed by longer processing. Given the nature of the product it can't do any harm, so why not?

Peace of mind is an important factor in food preservation. We need to feel comfortable with what we've put on the shelf.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2012 at 12:59PM
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I was also wondering why the NCHFP recommends only 5 minute processing times for apple butter in 1/2 pint or pint jars. With that small processing time, I will have to sterilize the jars first and it just doesn't seem worth it to save 5 minutes of processing time. Especially when I doubt the final product will be affected.

Am I correct in assuming that if I process my 1/2 pint and pint jars of apple butter for 10 minute I can skip the sterilization step?


    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 8:48PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Am I correct in assuming that if I process my 1/2 pint and pint jars of apple butter for 10 minute I can skip the sterilization step?

Yes you are.


    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 8:50PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

I don't like the 5 minute processing time because based on my experience the seal is weaker resulting in a higher risk of failure if the preserve is stored where temperatures will fluctuate (like a garage).

I only use the 5 minute time with a traditional no-commercial-pectin jelly where longer processing time risks breaking the jell permanently.


    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 2:53AM
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