A Harvest of Apples….

freshly canned fruit

Nothing can beat the taste of apples freshly picked from the tree.  When I moved to the desert, I was surprised that apple trees could grow here.  I came to find out that most fruit trees not only can grow in our climate, but thrive.

This summer, my mother (Pastor Farmer) of Double S Farms, undertook the daunting task of teaching me how to can fruits.  We made peach jam together and I then made plum jam on my own.  You know, nothing quite beats the feeling you get when you have a row of freshly canned fruit that you have made yourself.  I am definitely getting hooked on canning.

Double S Farms has many different kinds of fruit trees, including two Anna’s apple trees.  They are prolific producers of apples and I couldn’t wait to make applesauce.

freshly canned fruit

Another reason that I was looking forward to spending the day with my mother was that I have been with my kids 24 hours a day since school has been out for the summer and to be honest, I needed a small break.  Normally, I do go out on a few landscape consultations during the week, but when the summer heat arrives, people do not want to spend much time outside in the garden, so my business slows down and I am home much of the time.  Please don’t misunderstand me – I have great kids and I love them, but it was so nice to have a few hours away.

There are many recipes for applesauce available online – sweetened, unsweetened, with cinnamon, chunky, etc.  A good reference guide for canning any type of fruit can be found at this link.  

In order to make the applesauce, we first cut the apples into chunks.  You may notice that we did not peel the apples….we just removed the stem and end from each apple before we cut them up into chunks.

freshly canned fruit

We added water and then cooked them until they were soft.

freshly canned fruit

Then it was time to put them through the food mill.  *I have always wanted a food mill and had so much fun using my mother’s.  I really need to get one 🙂

freshly canned fruit

Besides being very easy to use, the food mill kept all the apple peels and cores out of the pureed apples that fell into the bowl.  Peeling apples is not a favorite activity of mine, so it was so nice to skip this part.

freshly canned fruit

In the foreground, you can see an old fashioned device which also worked well.  I am not sure what it is called, but it did work well.

While we were working, my two nephews came home from playing at the park.  They are always so much fun to play with.  Their new favorite books are my sister’s cupcake cookbooks.  They spend lots of time looking at all of the pictures and deciding which ones they are going to make.


*I have actually have used the first cookbook and had some great results.

Okay, back to making applesauce….

Once the apples were pureed, we added sugar and lemon juice.

Harvest of Apple

Now back onto the stove for a few minutes to heat up.

Harvest of Apple

It already looked so good, it was hard not to dip my spoon in and try some.

Next it was time to put it into jars, making sure that there are not air bubbles and add the lids.

Harvest of Apple

 The last step…




Now, I think it is time to make my Applesauce Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting 🙂

**If any of you would like the recipe, please send me an email and I would be happy to send you the recipe for the cake.

Can It Forward: Making Nectarine and Blueberry Jam

Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a author, horticulturist, and landscape consultant who helps people learn how to create, grow, and maintain beautiful desert gardens that thrive in a hot, dry climate. She does this through her consulting services, her online class Desert Gardening 101, and her monthly membership club, Through the Garden Gate. As she likes to tell desert-dwellers, "Gardening in the desert isn't hard, but it is different."
26 replies
  1. Finley and Oliver
    Finley and Oliver says:

    Yum, Noelle! It looks like it all turned out great. I'm so glad that you and mom are able to use so many of those apples. Between you guys and the chickens, we won't have to waste any 🙂 LOVE the picture of the boys – please do send it to me.

  2. Kyna
    Kyna says:

    Never feel guilty for needing some time to yourself! If anyone's a parent out there (and I'm not, but I'm married to one), they'd understand fully, no need to explain yourself 😀

    My mum has one of those old-school metal cone things too. I also don't know what it's called lol. That looked like a fun time you had, and the applesauce looks delicious!

  3. Rosie@leavesnbloom
    Rosie@leavesnbloom says:

    I've never canned Noelle but was brought up on apple sauce and apple tarts and apple crumble when it was apple picking season.

    And look at that cupcake book – those cupcakes on the front look like the ones we were doing a few weeks ago. I don't blame your little nephews looking through books like that – it must be great fun making cupcakes with them. I used to look through my mums recipe cards each week deciding on what we would bake on a Saturday afternoon.

  4. Bangchik
    Bangchik says:

    It is alright Noelle to be away from the routines , the familiar surroundings and faces once in a while, and come back feeling fresh.

    Nice to see step by step, the making of applesauce…


  5. Antique ART Garden
    Antique ART Garden says:

    I love these entries where your mom and you get together and spend so much time making something yummy. And of course you need some free time sans kids ! They'll miss you more too, take care, Gina

  6. Floridagirl
    Floridagirl says:

    That does look yummy! I just learned last year that apples could be grown in Florida. Now, obviously, it isn't done often, as I am Florida through and through and didn't learn that until middle age. Your nephews have good taste in books. It does remind me of Rosie's post on cute cupcakes. Can't wait to make some myself.

  7. Curbstone Valley Farm
    Curbstone Valley Farm says:

    Great looking apple sauce, and I love that you didn't have to peel the apples. I've always peeled mine…I think I need to stop that! Although I've never used a food mill for mine either. The strainer in the foreground is either a Chinois (fine strainer), or a China Cap (course strainer). I'm presuming a Chinois. They're commonly used to strain sauces, and fruit mixtures, especially for making seedless jellies.

  8. Rosey
    Rosey says:

    That applesauce looks delectable! And I am sure your cake is pretty yummy too. Will you post a recipe of that cake, even if I use store applesauce, I would be willing to try that.

  9. Kate
    Kate says:

    Hi, Noelle;
    That cake sounds dee-lish! I would love to have the recipe. I'm kind of surprised that apples grow in your area. I always thought they needed cold winters… Looks like a fun day. 🙂

  10. Meredith
    Meredith says:

    What a beautiful way to use the harvest and spend time with your mom, too! Believe me, Noelle, you don't have to explain about needing a break from the kiddos. Everybody needs a break sometimes — from anything and anyone that becomes routine. There is no doubt that you adore your children. You light up when you post about them. 🙂

    I may try to follow your technique in the fall, when our local apple harvest comes in. Last year I got to know two new-to-me and super delicious varieties that probably make great applesauce.

  11. gippslandgardener
    gippslandgardener says:

    Hi Noelle, it was an eye-opener for me to learn that you can grow apples in the desert! As for that apple sauce…I can almost imagine the wonderful smell of it cooking!

  12. Teresa O
    Teresa O says:

    Oh yummm! What a fun day with your mom. There's something so satisfying about lining up cans of preserved fruits and vegetables. It's rather like a link to all the women who came before.

    Wonderful post, Noelle! It brought back many memories.

    PS Do you make apple dumplin's with any of those apples?

  13. jeansgarden
    jeansgarden says:

    Noelle, There is nothing like the self-sufficient glow that comes from canning. When I was a child, my mother put up all kinds of fruits and vegetables, which then filled a tall wooden cabinet in the basement. It was hard work for her in the hottest part of summer, but that food sustained us all winter. About 10 years ago, I started canning tomatoes and tomato sauce in the fall, and I too got hooked! -Jean

  14. Balisha
    Balisha says:

    I used to make chili sauce with my Mom and chow chow with my Mother in Law. You and your Mom are making memories right along with making something delicious to eat. Have a great weekend.

  15. Kathleen Scott
    Kathleen Scott says:

    Only a true foodie would think an afternoon of canning is a vacation…

    But your applesauce is probably the best on the planet and you'll enjoy it more for the memory.

  16. Rose
    Rose says:

    I had no idea apple trees would grow well in Arizona, either! Your applesauce looks so yummy. I made a lot two years ago when we had an abundant harvest here; from the looks of the apple trees this year, I may have another big applesauce production this year. I broke down and bought myself a food mill at that time, too–one of the best investments I ever made! I used to borrow my mother's colander–that's what we called the other conical utensil you pictured–but the food mill is so much quicker.

    Ok, I'm definitely going to ask for that applesauce cake recipe!

    And don't feel bad about needing a break from your kids once in awhile–every mom needs to recharge her batteries! That's what we Grandmas are for:)

  17. arizonaplantlady@gmail.com
    arizonaplantlady@gmail.com says:


    Thank you so much for your comments. I had such a great time with my mom that day.

    Teresa, I have not made apple dumplings before, but they sound delicious 🙂

    Turling, I believe we used about 6 – 8 cups of cut up apples.

    Rose, I will send you the recipe 🙂


  18. Hocking Hills Gardener
    Hocking Hills Gardener says:

    Yummy! Fresh made applesauce is sooo good. Fruits look so pretty when they are canned. I use to enjoy lining my canned veggies and fruits up on the shelves. They will taste great later on.

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