When it comes to food, I am sure you are like me. You want it to be simple, natural, wholesome, and as inexpensive as possible. This time of year, here is one of the things that I do to accomplish this: canning applesauce at home. You can also follow the same steps to get apple puree!
Please don’t be intimidated; canning applesauce is the absolute easiest thing possible. In this post, I will describe how I take a lot of the cumbersome steps out of applesauce canning and provide you with the MOST nutritious sauce out there.
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Why Make Your Own Applesauce?
While you can find some OK applesauce in the store, here are some things to think about.
- No plastic needed.
- Making your own applesauce allows you to control what you are exposed to.
- You can use the freshest, most pure apples.
- Homemade is very inexpensive.
- Apples are almost always on the Dirty Dozen list for heavy chemical exposure.
- You can make your own applesauce just how you like it; apple puree form, chunky applesauce, or anything in between.
- Leave on the skin for health benefits.
- It is the tastiest.
- Supports sustainable agriculture.
- Saves hundreds, if not thousands of miles of food travel
Gather Equipment and Food
If you are new to canning recipes, you will need a few essentials before you get started. This will cost a bit the first time you do it, but each and every year after, it will be virtually free of charge.
You will need:
- Jar grabber
- Ball Jars, Rims, and Lids-you need new lids each time! You can reuse the jars and rims every year.
- Water bath canner or huge stock pot
- Canning funnel
You can find all of these items in local kitchen stores or online. They also come in sets like this from Granite Ware:
You will also need:
- An immersion blender
- Spoons and ladles
- Ball jars, lids, and rims: these are widely available in grocery stores and in large retail stores and online as well.
- Stock pot; mine is 8 quarts
Some people choose to use a sieve, food mill, or a potato masher to blend the apples. These help remove the skins. I DON’T remove skins. Why? This is where a LOT of the fiber and nutrition is!
I will tell you how I get along without these items. The end result is a smooth, healthy applesauce.
If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can use a food processor. I personally find that the immersion blender is the most ideal. Why? I don’t like to put hot applesauce in a plastic food processor or blender container; this risks leaching plastic into your applesauce. Not so healthy!
You can find an immersion blender here. It is also much cheaper than a good food processor, blender, or food mill. If you do use a blender, go for one that is a glass container.
The required ingredients are just one thing: apples. Add honey for additional sweetness if you want, and citric acid or lemon for extra tartness and to prevent apples from browning. Cinnamon is optional too.
- Apples, about 12 quarts or 48 cups
- Honey, if desired, about a half pound
- Citric acid or lemon, if desired
- Cinnamon, if desired
Choose Your Ingredients
For me, this is an obvious step: I pick the apples that I have and I recommend you do the same. Or go ahead and buy the kinds you like.
-Don’t overthink the type of apple because they all will work.
For the tastiest applesauce, you can try to find the sweetest apples if you want. I have Golden Delicious and McIntosh in my yard, but Fujis, Red Delicious, Pink Lady, Honeycrisp are also good options.
You can get apples directly from orchards for a BARGAIN too. Ask for “ugly” apples or the culls, drops, or seconds apples.
A bushel of apples typically yields about 12 quarts of applesauce.
If you want to make a stockpot full of applesauce, this will yield about 6 quarts or 12 pints of sauce. For this, you will need about 12 quarts of fresh apples.
For the honey, I like to get local, bulk honey. It is very affordable at about $4 a pound. You can also find good honey here.
How to Make Applesauce for Canning
If you follow the next steps for your canning applesauce recipe, you will have the tastiest, healthiest applesauce out there. Not to mention, the most inexpensive!
Wash the Jars
All you need is some soap and water to clean out your Ball canning applesauce jars or mason jars. Do this and then go ahead and place the jars on a baking sheet in the oven at about 225 degree F oven. You can leave them in the oven until you are ready to place the applesauce in them.
Some people place the lids in hot water; you need fresh and new lids for the canning process.
Don’t use old lids!
I tend to skip the water step for the lids. As long as the lids are clean, you are good to go.
Prepare the Apples
Wash the apples in water and then drain.
Remove the cores by slicing the apple as you go, paring away at the apple until the core is left. Make sure to NOT use the seeds in the recipe. Seeds have cyanide in them.
Slice each apple into about 6 slices as you proceed. It doesn’t have to be perfectly uniform shapes and sizes.
Prepare the Water Bath
This recipe is a hot water bath canning applesauce. A pressure cooker is another option for canning. For more information, visit Pressure Cooker Applesauce.
Fill the water bath canner with water. You will want the water level high enough so that it covers the entire jar.
Place the lid on the water bath pan and bring to a boil.
Cook the Apples
In your stock pan, place an inch or a little bit more of water in the bottom of your stock pan. I add about 1 tablespoon of citric acid to keep my apples from turning brown. You can find citric acid in most grocery stores or here.
Bring the apples to a boil on high. At this point, reduce the heat to low and place the lid on the pan. Cook for about 20 minutes or until the apples are soft.
Remove the apples from the heat and get ready to blend.
*Please note that the USDA has not officially tested applesauce with the peels on during the canning process. While that’s seems impossible, it’s true. Therefore, when you do use the peels, you are taking the small risk that this is unsafe. I recommend boiling for 30 minutes to remove any potential risk. I also add extra citric acid as an extra precaution; the acid helps destroy bacteria.
I recommend getting a pH meter to assure that your mixture is acidic enough. You can get a digital pH tester here.
Blend and Flavor the Apples
How to puree apples:
First, place the immersion blender in the pot of apples.
Begin blending the apples until they are smooth and consistent in texture. This can take a couple of minutes if you are using a big stock pot. When using an immersion blender, the texture of the applesauce is closer to an apple puree, which I prefer. If you want it more grainy, add to a food processor and pulse it until it is a desired consistency.
Once you are done, you have hot apple sauce.
Taste the Sauce
Go ahead and taste the sauce at this point. Is it WAY too sour? This can happen if you are making sauce from green apple puree or or apples that have not had a good frost.
What is the solution to tart apples? You can add a few tablespoons of honey to sweeten it. Taste and repeat if needed.
Canning applesauce with honey is much better than adding sugar. Why? Honey is great for the immune system and gut health. This recipe 100% natural; no heavily processed sugars.
Stir again and add 1 tablespoon of cinnamon or more, if you like. Homemade cinnamon applesauce for canning is just that simple.
From here, you have a couple of options. If you want to make crockpot applesauce for canning, you can also check out the recipe by Art and the Kitchen.
You can also use a pressure cooker. Want to use a pressure cooker for canning applesauce? Find out how at Healthy Canning.
Make Apple Puree Concentrate
Want to make apple butter? You simply take the apple puree concentrate and boil it down in a slow cooker and cook for 10 hours on low heat. Process like you would if you are canning applesauce.
Fill the Jars
Place the canning funnel on the top of your Bell mason jars.
Next, fill the jars to about 1/2 inch from the top to allow for some airspace for proper sealing.
If any sauce landed on the rim, wipe this off with a clean rag.
After cleaning the jars, add the new lid to the top of the jar. When canning applesauce, the NEW lid is the most important step.
Screw the canning rim onto the jar and tighten it gently. You will want a potholder on your hand to avoid burning yourself.
Seal the Jars
Place the prepared jars into the water bath with a jar grabber.
Use the following chart to determine the time you will need to process the jars:
When you are at high altitudes, pay close attention to processing times. Note that the higher your altitude, the longer you will need to boil the jars.
Once you have boiled the jars for the time indicated in the chart, remove the jars with the jar grabber and allow to cool. You will hear the jars pop, but the sound isn’t required. You will notice after an hour or so that the jars will have a vacuum seal.
After they have cooled overnight, you should loosen the rings to prevent rust.
Inspection and Storage
If you notice that the lid didn’t seal properly, you will need to start over with a new lid and process using the previous steps.
In my experience, this rarely, if ever happens if you follow the steps carefully. It would be perhaps better to just keep that jar in your refrigerator and eat it within a week or two.
Nutrition Perks of Canning Applesauce with Skins
There are pros to cooking apples for your health. Not only is it the tastiest, canning homemade applesauce is the healthiest.
While you do lose some of the polyphenols when heating the apples, you increase the pectin availability. As the apple skins soften, they release their pectin.
Pectin can help with gut healing by serving as a prebiotic in the digestive tract. It also helps lower cholesterol, makes you feel full, and reduces risk of heart disease.
Apple antioxidants and polyphenols are numerous and include [R]:
These antioxidants are primarily found in apple skins. This is why you most definitely want to blend these skins up into your applesauce. Most applesauce recipes have you remove the skins. This is tragic.
Apple Skin Fiber Benefits
Apple fiber from the skin helps improve the microbiome of your digestive tract too [R].
Honey also has its own immune benefits in this recipe; it is great to help aid coughs and cold symptoms!
Once again, note that the USDA has NOT tested canning applesauce with the skins on.
Is applesauce keto?
If you are on a keto diet, you can still have THIS applesauce before or after exercise. Simply leave out the honey and add cinnamon to help reduce glucose spikes.
Many athletes following keto do better with carbs before, during and after exercise. To sum it up, this canning applesauce recipe is the BEST applesauce recipe for low carb diets because it has more fiber than most, which slows down the carbohydrate absorption.
Canning Applesauce Recipe
- Immersion blender
- Stock pot
- Jar Grabber
- Ball Jars
- Ball Lids
- Ball Rims
- Water Canner
- 12 quarts Apples
- 1 tbsp citric acid
- 0.5 lb honey optional
- 1 tbsp cinnamon optional
- 2 cups water more or less, depending on pan size
- Wash your Ball quart or pint jars with soap and water. Place on a baking sheet and set in an oven preheated to 225 degrees F until you are ready to put the sauce in.
- Wash the apples and drain.
- Slice apple chunks away from the core. The pieces don't need to be identical in size. This works best for small apples. You can also use an apple slicer and corer if you wish.
- Add water to the water bath canner and bring to a boil.
- While you are waiting for the canner, add an inch or so of water to your stock pot. Add all the sliced apples and the citric acid, if using.
- Bring apple mixture to a boil. Once it boils, bring the heat down to a low simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes.
- Remove the apples from the heat. Place the immersion blender in the hot apple mixture and blend until smooth, about 2-3 minutes.
- Taste the sauce and add in honey to sweeten and cinnamon to flavor if you would like.
- Place the canning funnel on the top of your Bell mason jars. Fill to about 1/2 inch from the top to allow for some airspace for proper sealing. If any sauce landed on the rim, wipe this off with a clean rag.
- Add the new lid to the top of the jar. When canning applesauce, the NEW lid is the most important step. Screw the canning rim onto the jar and tighten it gently. You will want a potholder on your hand to avoid burning yourself.
- Place the prepared jars into the water bath with a jar grabber. Use the chart in this post to determine the time you will need to process the jars. Generally speaking, 20 minutes for pint jars is adequate and 25 minutes for quart jars, unless you are at very high altitude.
- Once you have boiled the jars for the time indicated in the chart, remove the jars with the jar grabber and allow to cool. You will hear the jars pop, but the sound isn’t required. You will notice after an hour or so that the jars will have a vacuum seal.After they have cooled overnight, you should loosen the rings to prevent rust.
Cost of Canning Applesauce
If you have the equipment, this recipe will cost you around $1.00 per pint. If you have the apples in your yard, it will cost less about 25 cents per quart! The honey adds on about 50 cents per pint.
Canning homemade applesauce is very inexpensive as you can see. If you don’t have the equipment you can invest in the equipment and make wholesome applesauce every year. You will also be able to make homemade salsa, marinara, pickles, and more.
I have SO much applesauce: Now what?
Applesauce tastes great plain, but you might wonder if there is a way to incorporate your homemade apple puree and applesauce into recipes. Here are some ways to use your applesauce:
- You can add your apple puree and canned applesauce to apple any puree cake recipe, including apple cake!
- Simply add your canned applesauce into any recipe for the oil if you are trying to cut back on processed oils in recipes.
- Add applesauce to your brownie recipe to cut back the volume of sugar.
- You can use applesauce as a substitute for eggs in recipes too!
- Make an applesauce parfait with either yogurt or whip cream and top with your favorite crumble; granola, graham crackers, etc.
- Use to make slow cooked meats, including pork chops, brisket, chicken, and more.
- Mix into your morning yogurt to sweeten naturally without any added sugar
I am including links to canning tools so that you can stock up and save. If you prefer using a standing blender instead of an immersion blender, make sure to use a glass blender like the one I show you below:
Heidi Moretti, MS, RD is The Healthy RD. A registered dietitian for 20 years, has a passion for functional nutrition and natural medicine. Has researched supplements and plants as medicine throughout her career. Loves helping people gain function and vitality by tackling the root causes of illness.