Applesauce is probably one of the easiest recipes to can, so it’s perfect for beginners! Late summer-early fall is apple season and it’s a great time to preserve that fresh from the orchard taste to enjoy all winter long. The taste of store-bought applesauce absolutely cannot compare to homemade, and you can avoid all the unhealthy preservatives & additives.
Apples (like most fruit) are naturally high in acid so they can be safely canned with the water bath method. This means you don’t need an expensive (and intimidating for beginners) pressure canner. You can buy a water bath canning pot & rack, but it is not necessary. I use my large Dutch oven pot and it works great.
Equipment you will need to can applesauce
- 8-9 Pint Size canning jars, rings & lids (sterilize all in boiling water and allow to dry)
- food processor, food mill, or potato masher
- large pot
Harvesting the perfect applesauce
Visit your local orchard for the most variety. You can also try asking an employee if they have any “second apples” they would be willing to sell you at a discounted rate. “Seconds” are apples that aren’t pretty enough to be sold for eating. They are perfectly good apples, but they might be bruised or misshapen. Looks don’t matter at all when you are going to mush them up!
I like to combine a few different varieties of apples together to build different flavors in the sauce. You can use any type of apples you want, but you should try to avoid crisper “baking” apples like Granny Smiths, Red Delicious, or Honeycrisps. The softer varieties are perfect for sauce, including Macintosh, Gala, Fuji, Cortland or Jonathan.
- 12 lbs apples
- water (about 2 cups)
- sugar to taste (0-2 cups)
- cinnamon to taste (0-2 teaspoons)
Preparing the apples
I don’t have a food mill, if you do you can skip this step and simply quarter the apples and boil the skin intact. For those without a food mill; peel, core & slice your apples. To prevent the apples from browning while you are working, fill a bowl with about 4 cups cold water & 1/4 cup lemon juice. As you slice the apples, put them in the water/lemon juice and keep them there while you work.
Making the applesauce
Combine the apple slices with enough water to prevent the apples from sticking to each other in a large pot (it should be about 2 cups). It will look like there isn’t enough water, give it some time. As the apples get softer they add moisture to the pot, if you add too much extra water you will end up with soupy applesauce.
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until apples are tender (5-30 minutes depending on how thin the slices are, how firm your apple variety is, and how big your pot is). They are done when they look like the picture below and you can use a fork to mush one against the side of the pot.
Mash apples in a food processor, blender, or with a potato masher until desired consistency (I like my applesauce chunky)
Return apples to the pot and add sugar & cinnamon. Bring to a low boil, stirring constantly
Use a ladle & funnel to fill the sterilized jars to within 1/2 inch of the top
Remove the air bubbles by running a knife around the outside of the apples, then tap the jar gently on the counter. Wipe the rim and finger tighten the lid & rim
Put filled jars in a water bath canner (or large pot), fill the pot with water so there is at least 1 inch of water covering the jars. Jars should remain upright in the pot.
Bring water to a full boil. Process for 20 minutes. This time may need to be increased if you use larger than pint-size jars or are at a high altitude)
Remove from heat and let sit for 10-15 minutes. Remove the jars from the canner and allow to cool for 24 hours. After 24 hours, check to see if the jars have properly sealed. If they are properly sealed, you will not be able to push the lid down and the applesauce will be good for about a year. If you can push the center of the lid down, refrigerate that jar and eat within 2-3 weeks.