Fall is the perfect time to try canning applesauce. Nothing smells more delicious in the kitchen on a cool, fall day!
One of our family’s favorite fall activities is going apple picking together. We always go with our homeschool group and pick a few bushels with the intentions of canning applesauce in the coming weeks.
We have apple trees planted on our property, but it takes several years for apple trees to fully produce a harvest. In a few years, we anticipate growing and harvesting all of our own apples.
I can’t wait!
We love applesauce, apple pies, apple crisps, and apple butter in this house. We stock our pantry with all sorts of apple goodies for the winter.
Canning applesauce is a great way to preserve your apple harvest or to take advantage of the great apple sales most stores have at this time. It’s easy, and nothing is yummier than homemade applesauce!
- Picking the Best Types of Apples for Applesauce
- 3+ Ways to Puree Apples for Canning Applesauce
- Different Ways to Flavor Applesauce
- 6 Steps for Making & Canning Applesauce
- FAQs about Canning Applesauce
Picking the Best Types of Apples for Applesauce
Any apple is safe to use for making applesauce, but all apples have a bit of a unique flavor. My kids always favor Gala or Honeycrisp over Red Delicious, and I bet you have favorites as well.
If you opt for apples that are naturally sweet, you’ll have no reason to add sugar. Tart apples may require some sugar unless your family enjoys tart applesauce.
Here are some varieties of apples you may want to use for canning applesauce.
- Golden Delicious
- Rome Beauty
- Ginger Gold
- Pink Lady
You may also find regional varieties of apples you prefer. Most orchards list what each variety they have is best for; ours always put how to use the apples next to their current ripe varieties.
Don’t shy away from over mature or damaged apples. Softness is not an issue with applesauce; it’s really a great way to use up those bruised apples your kids don’t want to touch. You have to remove and cook the fruits; they’ll never know!
However, don’t pick rotten, badly damaged, or any apples that were on the ground too long. They may contain bacteria.
3+ Ways to Puree Apples for Canning Applesauce
One of the trickiest parts of canning applesauce is figuring out how to puree it to the consistency you prefer.
Some don’t mind chunky applesauce. If that’s you, you don’t have to worry much since apples naturally cook down to a chunky consistency. If you prefer a smooth consistency, you’ll need some tools to help get you there.
Here are some tools to help you puree your apples.
- Food Strainer for Applesauce: One of my preferred methods is using a food strainer like this Johnny Apple Sauce Maker. It attaches to your kitchen counter and allows you to run the applesauce through, creating a smooth consistency. If you use a strainer, you often times don’t need to peel – but you should core – the apples.
- Blender or Food Processor: Grab an immersion blender, regular full-size blender, or a food processor to eliminate the chunks in your applesauce. If you go with this route, you must peel AND core the apples.
- Food Mill: Another option is to use a food mill with holes in the bottom of the bowl. The crank has a blade and crushes the apples, pushing it through the pools. This method leaves behind the skins, but coring is necessary beforehand.
Different Ways to Flavor Applesauce
You may think applesauce is a boring food, but you’d be wrong. The regular version is delicious for snacks and baking, but you have so many other options.
Try adding a variation of dried spices, such as:
Don’t forget sweetener! If you use sweet apples, you may not need to add anything extra, but tart apples will need a bit of sweeter to take out the bite. Sugar and honey are two options to try; I suggest trying the puree and adding a small amount at a time to get the perfect flavor.
Another idea is to add other fruits! Strawberries and apples taste great together, or try another berry in the puree. Stores often sell these combinations, and you can make them as well!
6 Steps for Making & Canning Applesauce
Making applesauce is great for beginners! You can find a multitude of safe recipes in the Ball Canning Guide and NCHFP website, but I do promise this is easy to get right and safe!
Gather the Equipment Needed
Once you have your apples, it’s time to gather the equipment you need to create the applesauce. You don’t need a pressure canner; this is safe for processing in a water bath canner.
Here are some supplies I suggest having on hand when canning applesauce.
- Water bath canner
- 6-9 pint sized jars with rims and lids
- Large stock pot
- Food mill or blender (or anything listed above to puree your applesauce)
- Jar lifter
- Bubble popper
- Canning funnel
Prepare The Apples
Now that you have all the equipment needed for processing the apples, it’s time to get them prepared.
Start by washing your apples. You never know who handled the apples in the store.
If you use a food mill that strains out the peels and cores, then you don’t need to peel them. If you do need to peel them, I suggest using an apple peeler and combo. This thing will save you so much time. Mine peels, cores, and slices the apples, so they’re ready to go!
Cook Down the Apples
I put just enough water into the pot to ensure the apples don’t stick to the bottom. In my experience, they will stick and burn without some water – between 1/2 to 1 cup, depending on the amount of apples used.
This is the easiest step. I keep it on low and let my apples cook slowly over several hours. Another option is you could put the apples in the Crockpot, giving you better flavor to your applesauce and lets you get things done throughout the day.
Puree The Apples
Once the apples are soft and ready to be pureed, take them off the heat. Typically, you want to cool down the apples before putting them into the blender.
Run the cooled applesauce through the food or blender – or whatever you picked – to smooth out the sauce. Some prefer the chunky version of applesauce, so try a potato masher instead!
Reheat the Applesauce & Prepare Canning Equipment
It’s best to reheat the applesauce after pureeing to reduce the risk of siphoning. This is the best time to taste your applesauce to determine what you need to add. Start slow and try adding sugar, cinnamon, and lemon juice until you like the flavor.
Bring the applesauce up over a medium-high heat to a boil; be sure to stir to prevent sticking.
While you’re reheating the applesauce, it’s the time to prepare your canning equipment. Fill up your water bath canner and put it on the stove over high heat. Then, either put your jars into the water canner and let them heat up in there OR soak them in hot water in your sink.
I always make sure I ran my jars through the dishwasher beforehand as well to ensure they are clean and ready to be used.
Make sure you heat up the jars, rims, and lids as well!
Can the Applesauce
Spread paper towels or kitchen towels on the county top, and place your hot jar on it. Use a label to pour the hot applesauce through the canning funnel into the jar. Make sure to leave 1/2 inch headspace; use a headspace measurer.
Use the bubble popper – my applesauce had plenty of air bubbles! Then, use a towel or paper towel to wipe the jar rim to remove any residue. Residue left on the rim of the jar prevents proper sealing.
Put the lid on the jar and screw on the band until fingertip tight. Then, place the jar into the canner, repeating the process with the rest of the jars.
Make sure the water is covering the tops of the jar by two inches. The timer for processing begins once the water is boiling; it often stops boiling when you put the jars inside the canner.
Process the jars for 15 minutes for pints or 20 minutes for quarts. After the timer goes off, turn off the heat to the canner and let it rest for 5 minutes. Remove the jars and place them on a towel on your kitchen counters.
Let them cool and rest for 12 hours before testing the seals. Be sure to label the jars and store in a cool, dark location for up to two years.
FAQs about Canning Applesauce
How Can I Avoid Siphoning When Canning Applesauce?
Siphoning is one of the most frustrating issues you may have to deal with when canning. This occurs when the contents inside the jar expand and come out of the jar during processing.
It leads to several issues.
First, you loss some of your applesauce – or whatever you are canning – and after all that hard work, who wants that?
Plus, contents coming out means you end up with a sticky mess inside of your canner. That’s more work for you!
One of the biggest issues is siphoning may prevent your jars from sealing properly. Food may get stuck between the rim of the jar and canning seal. After all of this work, the last thing you want to happen is losing jars of food.
Sometimes, siphoning doesn’t stop processing and sealing, but ideally, you want to reduce the risk of this happening to your jars.
- Make sure your applesauce is hot while filling the jars. Some canners cool it down for the pureeing and then fill the jars, but it’s best to reheat after pureeing.
- Dense applesauce is yummy, but it holds more air. So, add some water and thin it out a bit.
- Make sure you have proper headspace. You need at least 1/2 inch headspace for the expansion experienced during processing.
- Don’t forget to remove air bubbles with a bubble popper or a rubber spatula. Do this slowly so you don’t add more air to your jars.
- Try to avoid temperature fluctuations. Siphoning happens most often when there are rapid changes in temperature. Make sure your jars are hot when you fill them with hot applesauce, and put them quickly into the canner. Then, let them rest 5 minutes in the canner before removing into the cool air.
Do You Need to Add Lemon Juice When Canning Applesauce?
Yes, you need to add lemon juice when canning applesauce. It won’t change the flavor of your applesauce, but it helps preserve the color of the apples AND ensures you have proper acidity levels. That’s essential if you want to use a water bath canner when canning applesauce.
How Long Will Canned Applesauce Last?
Per USDA guidelines, home canned applesauce – properly – lasts one year in storage. However, most home canners will tell you that the jars last considerably longer!
Applesauce for Canning
An easy homemade applesauce recipe for canning
- 13 Pounds Apples
- 1/2 Cup Water
- 1/4 Cup Lemon Juice
- Sugar (optional)
- Cinnamon or Other Spices (optional)
Prepping for Applesauce
Start by washing and scrubbing the apples.
Peel, core & cut up the apples and place into your large stock pot as you work through them.
Cooking the Applesauce
Put all of the apples into the stock pot with water. Use 1/2 to 1 cup of water to avoid the apples sticking to the bottom and burning.
Let the apples cook in low heat until all are soft and ready for pureeing. Take off the heat and let the applesauce cool until you puree it.
Use whatever method of pureeing you prefer, such as a food mill, food processor, or blender. Put the applesauce back into the pot after pureed; make sure you get consistency you want.
Bring the applesauce back up to a boil, add in sugar and spices to your tastes. This is all preferences, so make sure you taste as you go!
As your applesauce reheats, fill up the water bath canner and put your jars in either the pot or a sink full of hot water. Be sure your jars are clean, and soak the lids and rims in hot water as well.
Ladle the hot applesauce into clean, hot jars, and wipe down the rims to remove any residue before placing the lids and rims on the jars.
Place the filled jars into the water bath canner and process pints for 15 minutes or quarts for 20 minutes.
Let the jars rest after removing from the canner. When cooled, check the seals and store in a cool, dark place.