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How to Make Applesauce - for Fresh Use, Freezing, or Canning: An Illustrated Guide

Updated on November 26, 2018
ButterflyWings profile image

Butterfly has been gardening and preserving food of all kinds for many years, and she thrives on the creativity involved in these processes.

Tart, Sweet, and Delicious

Which Apples Should I Use?

Homemade applesauce is among life's most pleasurable tastes. It has many uses beyond a simple dessert or side dish, and can be a very healthy substitute for part of the fat (oils) in baked goods.

Making applesauce can be a bit time consuming, but is a simple process. The most important thing is that you obtain apples that are good for baking - tart, juicy, luscious. A mixture of varieties is best. Tart and sweet kinds, having also different textures, will provide you with a sauce which is a little chunky and very flavorful.

If you have apples from your own tree, and prefer to put away a quantity for fresh eating, you can always postpone your sauce making until some of these have begun to go soft, later in the fall or winter. Soft apples are fine for sauce, as long as their flavor is still good.

Supplies And Ingredients For The Sauce

The things you will need for making applesauce are few and simple:

  • Suitable, baking-type apples (tart, juicy) - unless you prefer smoother, sweeter sauces with less character
  • Sugar, to taste...or stevia, which works great in aplesauce. Honey or molasses may be used, also, but may require that the sauce be stirred almost constantly.
  • Spices and/or herbs, if desired. Try cinnamon, ground cloves, and grated nutmeg. Or, go savory, with sage, hot Chile's, or coriander.
  • A paring knife, for cutting the apples into chunks, and/or peeling them (peeling isn't really necessary unless you have no food mill to separate the skins from the pulp, and want a smooth sauce)
  • A large pot, for cooking the apples

Supplies For Waterbath Canning

Should you wish to can your finished applesauce, the supplies are as follows:

  • Canning jars, lids and rings, a jar lifter, tongs, and a small cake pan or saucepan for simmering lids
  • A canning funnel (has a wider mouth than a normal funnel)
  • A ladle
  • A boiling waterbath canner, or a steam canner
  • A heat-resistant surface in a draft-free area, in which to cool your finished jars

Step One - Core And Roughly Chop The Apples To Cook

If you intend to use a food mill to separate the peels and pulp, just cut the apples into large pieces, core them, and put the pieces in a large pot. Otherwise, peel the apples, too.
If you intend to use a food mill to separate the peels and pulp, just cut the apples into large pieces, core them, and put the pieces in a large pot. Otherwise, peel the apples, too.
When your pot is full, begin s-l-o-w-l-y heating the apples, stirring often. Bring them to a simmer, and cook until tender.
When your pot is full, begin s-l-o-w-l-y heating the apples, stirring often. Bring them to a simmer, and cook until tender.

Step Two - Separate Pulp From Skins (Optional)

If desired, put the pulp/skins mixture in small batches in a food mill, and separate the pulp into a bowl or pot. Skipping this step will result in a chunkier, more complex flavored product.
If desired, put the pulp/skins mixture in small batches in a food mill, and separate the pulp into a bowl or pot. Skipping this step will result in a chunkier, more complex flavored product.
Here is the finished pulp, with skins removed. Now is the time to add sugar and spices. Add less than you think you want at first, cook a few minutes and taste. Add more as necessary.
Here is the finished pulp, with skins removed. Now is the time to add sugar and spices. Add less than you think you want at first, cook a few minutes and taste. Add more as necessary.

Step Three - Prepare Jars And Canning Equipment

Check jars for nicks, cracks, and other problems. Wash in hot, soapy water. Scald if necessary. Wash lids and rings.
Check jars for nicks, cracks, and other problems. Wash in hot, soapy water. Scald if necessary. Wash lids and rings.
Set lids in a small pan and pour scalding water over them, or simmer them slowly in a saucepan of water. DO NOT BOIL! Leave them in the water until you use them.
Set lids in a small pan and pour scalding water over them, or simmer them slowly in a saucepan of water. DO NOT BOIL! Leave them in the water until you use them.

Step Four - Fill Jars And Process In A Boiling Waterbath Canner

Fill jars to within 1/4" of rim, adjust two-piece lids, and process in boiling water canner 20 minutes (both pints and quarts). Begin timing when water comes to a rolling boil.
Fill jars to within 1/4" of rim, adjust two-piece lids, and process in boiling water canner 20 minutes (both pints and quarts). Begin timing when water comes to a rolling boil.
Cool jars in a draft-free area for 12 hours. Wash outsides, and store in a cool, dark place.
Cool jars in a draft-free area for 12 hours. Wash outsides, and store in a cool, dark place.

Troubleshooting: Canning Jars vs. Recycled Jars

Some jars not labeled for home canning can be "recycled" for canning, anyway. But be careful. Many jars today are deliberately sized differently than standard canning jars. Sometimes the mouth of a jar seems to be the same, when in fact it is incrementally larger or smaller. In the photo below is shown what happens if you make a mistake this way. That's a lot of work gone to waste, when you are unable to salvage your sauce!

Also, you run a greater risk of having jars broken in processing, when they are not true canning jars.

What Can Happen If Your Jars Aren't Made For Canning!

An odd-sized jar released its lid.
An odd-sized jar released its lid.
Here is how the product came out in that jar! Yummy, no?
Here is how the product came out in that jar! Yummy, no?

What Is The Difference Between "Eating" And "Baking" Apples?

Which Kind Of Applesauce Is Your Favorite?

Sweet Or Tart, Chunky Or Smooth! What Do You Like?

See results

© 2010 ButterflyWings

What Is Your Favorite Way To Make Applesauce?

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    • ButterflyWings profile imageAUTHOR

      ButterflyWings 

      8 years ago

      LiftedUp, it sounds like you had cool times with your Aunt Beverly. :)

      My apple tree in my sideyard didn't do so hot this year. These are pictures from last year, as I didn't have any apples worth canning this fall. Someday, maybe I can give my nephews the pleasure of "helping" with lunch the way your aunt did. Of course, there are several of them, so how to keep the choosing in rotation may be another matter. :)

    • LiftedUp profile image

      LiftedUp 

      8 years ago from Plains of Colorado

      One of my favorite memories is being invited by Aunt Beverly to choose some fruit out of the cupboard in the dining room for lunch. Nearly all of it was home canned, and invariably I chose the applesauce, made from apples grown in the back yard. Oh, yeah!

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