I love pretty, perfect apples for canning as much as the next person. They’re a joy to look at, and there’s something idyllic about turning something so nice into something just as nice, that’s going to stay that way on your shelves right through winter.
What’s even nicer? Paying less for a product that’s going to be just as effective. A lot of producers will sell the bumpy, ugly fruit (or end of bushels that may be going soft) at a steep discount just to be able to get some profit off of it. Since most people will want ‘pretty’ fruit-the stuff that looks like it was found in the grocery store-they’ll mark down the less pretty fruit just to move it.
While I do understand the appeal of using Grade A fruit, there’s really no reason to not use softs and uglies for things like applesauce, fruit butters, and jams since you’re cooking the fruit down past the point where it’s going to be recognized as its self anyway. Sauces and butters especially are a great way to salvage less than optimal fruit; just make sure to discard any fruit that’s brown or molding.
You may be able to strike a deal with a smaller grocery store for seconds but the best places to look for them are at farmer’s markets and other small venues. I can get ugly apples from my favorite orchard for $1/8 apples every so often, and they often have soft baskets. You can ask directly and tell them that you want it for canning-most sellers seem to understand what you want it for.
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