One of my goals for this year is to have less waste coming from our lives. I've gotten into a bad habit of purchasing single-serve organic fillings for the lunch boxes. It's not cheap and it certainly isn't green. Those little throwaway applesauce containers have to add up and each serving costs at least $.60 . The berry variety costs even more.
I had ordered a few boxes of dirt cheap organic cider apples ( $10 for 20 lbs!) . They were keeping OK in my unheated garage but they were not really being used. I also had a bag of the ends of berries picked or ordered for jam making. This week I pulled in the apple boxes, culled the bad ones and then cut about 10-12 lbs worth of the 'iffy' ones- spotty, getting soft on one side but fine on the other, that sort of thing. I left peels on, simply removed bad spots and cores. These I tossed into a pot with the berries and some water and cooked slowly for a full day until it was total mush. Then I let it cool completely.
The next step was to wrangle child labor to run the food mill for me. I had them take turns until all the mush mix was milled leaving just a bit of peel behind. We did a taste test and declared it way too tart (remember- cider apples, not real sweet, plus a berry mix heavy on the cranberries) so I added honey until it was declared good plus a touch of pie spice and cardamom and vanilla.
Once we were all happy with the taste, the applesauce was ladled into regular muffin cups and frozen (also with some excellent assistance from the 'end consumers'). After freezing, the pucks will be popped out of the tins and stored in tupperware in the freezer. When one or two are wanted for lunches, we will just pull them out and pop them into one of our little covered bowls or a small canning jar which will come home again to be washed and used..over and over and over.
Total cost of my apples from Azure, berries, and 1.5 cups of honey was about $12. With spices and gas for the stove, we'll round up to $15 for 52 servings. $.29 per serving plus a whole lot of plastic I'm not sending to the landfill. Now to figure out how to kick my ziploc habit....