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Canning Applesauce – How to Can Applesauce {Step by Step}

A step by step guide on canning applesauce with no sugar. This easy to follow guide teaches you how to can applesauce in a water bath canner.

A bowl of bowl of homemade applesauce with cinnamon sticks and apples on a grey board

Applesauce is a favorite snack in this house for our kiddos and my nephew. Living in Washington, we’re surrounded by apples of all types and can quart after quart of applesauce every year.

I don’t like canning. At all. But I do love that it helps us eat locally grown food year-round, gives us control over the types of foods we enjoy. In fact I would go so far to say I kinda hate canning. But when I open up a fresh jar from canning peaches, or canning tomato soupslow cooker apple butter, or applesauce in the middle of winter, it is always worth it.

If you’ve never canned applesauce before, it can seem overwhelming and a lot to take in. Don’t be intimidated; I’m here to help. We’re in this together!

WHAT KINDS OF APPLES SHOULD I USE FOR Canning Applesauce?

All kinds typically work fine, but you’ll have the best results with any apple labeled as “saucing apples“. Easy to find varieties such as Gala, Fuji, Braeburn, and Cameo would all be great.

Tart or sour apples like Granny Smith will likely be too watery and mouth-puckering to be a good choice. Have tart apples? Mix one pound of tart for every two to three pounds of sweet apples for a balanced sauce.

We have access to a local self-serve apple farm (this is Washington State after all!) and I love doing a mix and match of different kinds for homemade applesauce. This pretty pink sauce is a mix of Burgandy, Akane, and Jonagold, with the lovely rose hue coming mainly from the Burgandy.

Why Is There No Sugar in This Applesauce?

Apples have enough natural sugars to be safely canned without any added sweeteners. That being said, you can add sugar or honey if you’d like. And feel free to add any spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, or cloves.

How Long Do You Water Bath Can Applesauce?

The Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving calls for water bath canning applesauce for 20 minutes, regardless if you are using pints or quarts.

What If I Don’t Have a Food Mill?

The recipe below calls for using a food mill to process the applesauce. No food mill? No problem.

Peel apples and cut them into eights, removing the seeds and core.

You can make applesauce in an Instant Pot (Manual>high pressure>5 minutes>natural release) or in the slow cooker (cook all day on low without any additional liquid added), and then blend, blend, blend!

Alterntively, you can cook the apples down on low in a large pot on the stove. Cook and stir often and blend to your desired consistency.

You don’t have to remove the skin if you’d like to skip the peeling step, but there is more of a chance of contamination when canning if it left on.

How to Can Applesauce {Step by Step}

It is no longer necessary to sterilize jars before canning (hurray!) but you should make sure they are preheated enough to not crack when placed in hot water. You can put them in a clean dishwasher and run them through a quick wash cycle, or place them in a large pan with some water in a low heat oven (my lowest temp is 170 degrees) until you need them. I’ve even just put hot tap water in them before and left them on the counter.

Wash your lids with hot soapy water and place them in a clean bowl for now.

Set a medium/large pot of water to medium high on your stove.

Wash your apples and cut into eighths, or more if you have particularly large apples. Add apples to the hot water and cook until they have softened (1-5 minutes depending on your type of apple).

Remove using a slotted spoon and place in a strainer set into a large bowl.

Preparing apples for canning applesauce

Run the apples through a food mill to remove the seeds and skins. If my apples are particularly watery, I will strain them a bit through a mesh strainerPro tip: when you have a bowl completely full of skins and seeds, run them through the food mill two more times. I always get almost an extra quart out of these scraps. Transfer the applesauce to a pot over low heat or a crockpot set to low. Keep warm until ready to can.

making applesauce in a food mill for canning

^everyone asks about that play kitchen in the background. My grandpa made it for my mom, my sister and I played with it as kids, and my husband and I restored and updated it for our youngest. Full transformation here.

Place a canning rack in your canner and fill it with enough water to cover your jars by 1 inch. Set it on the stove on high to start boiling. Pro tip: when you add the jars to the canner the water level with obviously rise.

Ladle in the warm applesauce (I like using a canning funnel), leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Headspace is defined as the space between the top of the food and the top of the jar. Remove the bubbles from the jar (I use a chopstick).

Use a wet clean rag and wipe the rim of the jars to make sure it is free of any food.

the process of filling jars for canning applesauce

Place a clean lid on the jar and tighten the ring to fingertip tight (tight enough that it won’t come off, but not so tight that Andre the Giant couldn’t budge it).

how to secure lids and rings for canning applesauce

Lower your jars into the canner using canning tongs/jar lifter. Secure the lid and set the timer for 20 minutes (same time for any size of jar). For canning at different altitudes, check out this guide for adjusted processing times.

When the time is up, turn off the stove and let the jars sit for 5 minutes in the canner and then lift them out with canning tongs. Place on a towel where they can sit undisturbed for 12 hours.

Pretty soon you’ll start hearing some “pops and pings” which are the sounds of the jars sealing. That sound gives me a funny feeling in my pants because you know it means all your hard work has been worth it!

After a few hours, to check for sealing, gently press down in the middle of the lid. If the lid has no give, it’s sealed. If you can press the lid in and it pops a bit, your jars are not sealed. You can reprocess them or store them in the fridge or freezer (only freeze jars that are wide mouth).

Store in a cool dry place for up to 12 months.

Bowls of homemade applesauce with a cinnamon stick and apples on a grey board

Pro Tips/Recipe Notes

  • You’ll need about 21 pounds of apples to fill seven quarts of applesauce.
  • This applesauce can be frozen in wide mouth canning jars. Leave 1 inch of headspace in the jars to allow for expansion during freezer. Allow to fully cool in the jar before freezing.
  • Your applesauce may separate in the jars after canning. This is totally safe as long as the jars are sealed. This is the result of using apples with a higher water (juice) content.

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A bowl and mason jar full of homemade applesauce

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A bowl of bowl of homemade applesauce with cinnamon sticks and apples on a grey board
Print
How to Can Applesauce {Step by Step}
Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
1 hr 20 mins
 

A step by step guide on canning applesauce with no sugar. This easy to follow guide teaches you how to can applesauce in a water bath canner.

Course: Canning, Snack
Cuisine: American
Keyword: canning applesauce, how to can applesauce, how to make unsweetened applesauce
Servings: 28
Calories: 103 kcal
Author: Sarah Cook - Sustainable Cooks
Ingredients
  • 21 pounds apples
Instructions
  1. It is no longer necessary to sterilize jars before canning (hurray!) but you should make sure they are preheated enough to not crack when placed in hot water. You can put them in a clean dishwasher and run them through a quick wash cycle, or place them in a large pan with some water in a low heat oven (my lowest temp is 170 degrees) until you need them. I’ve even just put hot tap water in them before and left them on the counter.

  2. Wash your lids with hot soapy water and place them in a clean bowl for now.

  3. Set a medium/large pot of water to medium high on your stove.

  4. Wash your apples and cut into eighths, or more if you have particularly large apples. Add apples to the hot water and cook until they have softened (1-5 minutes depending on your type of apple).

  5. Remove using a slotted spoon and place in a strainer set into a large bowl.

  6. Run the apples through a food mill to remove the seeds and skins. If my apples are particularly watery, I will strain them a bit through a mesh strainer. Pro tip: when you have a bowl completely full of skins and seeds, run them through the food mill two more times. I always get almost an extra quart out of these scraps. Transfer the applesauce to a pot over low heat or a crockpot set to low. Keep warm until ready to can.

  7. Place a canning rack in your canner and fill it with enough water to cover your jars by 1 inch. Set it on the stove on high to start boiling. Pro tip: when you add the jars to the canner the water level with obviously rise.

  8. Ladle in the warm applesauce (I like using a canning funnel), leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Headspace is defined as the space between the top of the food and the top of the jar. Remove the bubbles from the jar (I use a chopstick).

  9. Use a wet clean rag and wipe the rim of the jars to make sure it is free of any food.

  10. Place a clean lid on the jar and tighten the ring to fingertip tight (tight enough that it won’t come off, but not so tight that Andre the Giant couldn’t budge it).

  11. Lower your jars into the canner using canning tongs/jar lifter. Secure the lid and set the timer for 20 minutes (same time for any size of jar). For canning at different altitudes, check out this guide for adjusted processing times.

  12. When the time is up, turn off the stove and let the jars sit for 5 minutes in the canner and then lift them out with canning tongs. Place on a towel where they can sit undisturbed for 12 hours.

  13. After a few hours, to check for sealing, gently press down in the middle of the lid. If the lid has no give, it’s sealed. If you can press the lid in and it pops a bit, your jars are not sealed. You can reprocess them or store them in the fridge or freezer (only freeze jars that are wide mouth).

Recipe Notes

You'll need about 21 pounds of apples to fill seven quarts of applesauce.

 

This applesauce can be frozen in wide mouth canning jars. Leave 1 inch of headspace in the jars to allow for expansion during freezer. Allow to fully cool in the jar before freezing.

 

Your applesauce may separate in the jars after canning. This is totally safe as long as the jars are sealed. That is the result of using apples with a higher water (juice) content. 

 

Store in a cool dry place for up to 12 months.

Nutrition Facts
How to Can Applesauce {Step by Step}
Amount Per Serving (1 cup)
Calories 103 Calories from Fat 2
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0.2g 0%
Sodium 5mg 0%
Potassium 181mg 5%
Total Carbohydrates 27g 9%
Dietary Fiber 2.7g 11%
Sugars 23g
Vitamin A 1%
Vitamin C 4%
Calcium 1%
Iron 3%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

This post contains affiliate links and we may earn a commission at no additional cost to you if you click through and make a purchase. This allows me to continue to provide free content, and I only share products that I use and love myself.

This recipe was originally published in October 2011. It has been retested and updated with reader feedback. New photos have been added and the recipe has been made printable. For reference, this is one of the photos from the original post:

canning applesauce
A step by step guide on canning applesauce with no sugar. This easy to follow guide teaches you how to can applesauce in a water bath canner. #sustainablecooks #canning #applesauce #canningapplesauce #preserving

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31 comments on “Canning Applesauce – How to Can Applesauce {Step by Step}”

  1. Looking forward to serving (read tasting) your homemade applesquish!!

  2. AAU – the other day Troy said “I’m glad you have a hobby like canning”. I wanted to say “it’s not a hobby. I HATE canning, I just like eating”.

    Conne – ha! Next Monday you’ll be able to “serve” my homemade mac and cheese cause I’m making some this weekend.

  3. Canning is very hard work. Each year I wonder WHY I’m doing it, but then I realize it is worth it. I have been canning like a mad woman this last month!

  4. You actually don’t need to sterilize rings. I think when we learned that we cut the expletive content of our canning sessions by about 90%, not to mention the burned fingers! xD You can just leave them sitting off to the side until you have the heated lids in place.

    The shoe Truth is very important for reasons other than your back, too…it helps prevent some really nasty burns. I mean, if you’re making jam, you’re basically whipping up a batch of sugar lava, and even if you aren’t, if you’re as clumsy as I am, you will find exciting new ways to splash yourself with boiling water with every new batch you process. My other burn-related canning truth is that if you are short and buxom, you should always put your canner on the front burner. I will leave to your imagination what happens when such a person is cooking on the front burner and canning on the back one, and is dumb enough to lean over to put the jars in the canner.

    I’m curious where the six pounds of pressure thing comes from — we, too, use our pressure canner to process low-acid foods from time to time when we don’t want to drag out the water bath canner, but we just treat it as if it were any other large stock pot, with the water over the jar tops, and timed from when it hits a rolling boil.

  5. You forgot Step 11…. If you’re too lazy to do all this make sure you have friends that will send you yummy goodness. 🙂

  6. I totally agree with you! I’m pretty sure I have shed a few tears in the kitchen while dealing with tomatoes. Ugh….I hate working with them! But I sure don’t have any tears when we are eating sauce all year and I don’t have to pay for it. It is a love/hate relationship for me.

  7. Mary, you’re alway on my list of receiving free canned goods! But, first, move to WA.

    Angela, really on the rings? I’ve always sanitized them. Awesome, 1 less thing to do!!

    Also, thanks for the perspective on the buxom issue. As you can see by my blog header, I’m built like a 12 year old boy; boobs in jam is not something I have to worry about. Ha!!

    The 6 lbs of pressure is from the Presto pressure canner booklet. You can use the canner as a water bath canner, but if you’re using it as a pressure canner, you go by lbs of pressure.

  8. Applesauce plops and sputters and burns! I love the taste but need to remember to wear long sleeves when canning because I burnt myself today like 5 times. Would I do it again – you betcha!!

  9. Christy, try the crockpot trick – I didn’t get a single sauce splatter on me this time! Since you’re opening the lid and constantly adding to the pot, it stays hot, but not bubbling hot.

  10. Great tips! One fun tip from canning applesauce w/my mom: You can melt red-hot candies in the hot apples. Gives a nice cinnamon flavor, doesn’t add too much sugar AND you get PINK applesauce!!

  11. Wow, thanks for the great tips. I especially like the one on the crock pot. Maybe there is hope for me, last time I canned (about 6 weeks ago) I thought why do I do this??! But then I do like the by product. I will keep pressing on, or is that canning on?

  12. Thank you so much for this!! I just got myself a pressure cooker and have been wanting to use it, but hesitant to rush into it. Your article made me realize that I need to get some more tools; that it isn’t rocket science, but requires attention to detail; and that perhaps I will wait for the apples to come in. So how long do you leave applesauce in a crockpot while you are waiting to have enough?

  13. Just a couple of comments. I run my skins through 2-3 times in my Victorio. You get a lot of the skin pulp out and more the that thick goop which makes the applesauce thicker. I then put my sauce mixture back on the stove and add sugar and cinnamon to taste before jarring. When it starts to boil (blop…blop) it’s ready. Be careful it spits when it ‘blops’ and it’s hot.

    I use a steam canner, and I sterilize my jars in the oven @250 degrees. Saves space and water. Works just fine for me. Also, if you have the older blue jars (with good seal edges), the applesauce will last considerably longer on the shelf before losing color or flavor.

    Great blog keep up the good work.

  14. I bought a pressure canner and a water bath, I plan to make applesauce and can in the water bath but I will have to do it the hard way by cooking on the stove first because I don’t want to invest anymore money so what is a easy way to cook it? I plan to put up tuna in the pressure canner but I’m scared to pieces to use it, I don’t know anyone who can help, got any ideas? Thanks,

    • Do you have a crockpot? I’d peel, core, and chop the apples and let them get mushy in the crockpot. You can blend it or just stir it until it’s to your desired texture.

      As far as the tuna, I’ve got nothing for that. Read, read, and re-read the book that came with your pressure canner and don’t divert a second from the directions!

  15. I see you have a glass top stove, I do to. I read that you aren’t suppose to use a pressure cooker or a boiling water bath on them. What do you use?

    • I bought the pressure canner that I have because it was supposed to be ok for glasstop stoves. I haven’t had an issue using it for pressure canning or boiling water baths.

  16. Where can I find a pressure canner that I don’t have to pay with life and limb. We are on a very small budget that’s why I want to do this canning thing but I’m not sure we have 150+ to spend in a canner

    • So, you only need a pressure canner to can low acid foods, and things containing meats. For applesauce, you simply need a huge stock pot.

      If you DO want a pressure canner, the one I have linked below is on Amazon for only $75. If you don’t want to put out that kind of coin, check craigslist or freecycle or garage sales. Buy a new seal for it and get the gauge checked out at the local extension office to make sure it is still pressurizing at the appropriate level.

      If you have older relatives who used to can, I bet they’d love to hand off their pressure canner to the next generation. Same with people who might attend your church (if you go), or other organizations you might belong to.

    • Last week went to an auction got 1 for 5$ and got another at a yardsale for 5$. They’re out there, keep your eyes peeled. Good luck.

  17. I was hoping you could tell me if I could use a crock pot to do the steam bath. I don’t seem to have a pot deep enough to put a pint size jar into once filled to a) just cover, or b) put the lid down in order to steam . For now, I can do a quick pickle pint, or the short 1/2 pint jam in the just over the top.

  18. Thank you for all the great suggestions. You are hilarious by the way! Canned for the first time today (wish I would have read this first!). My only question is, how long can I store the applesauce?

    • They say 6-12 months, but it never lasts that long in our house!

    • It never lasts long enough around here for long term storage to be an issue!

      That will/might change this year as i am in the starting process of processing a bin of apples. (Thats 20 bushels)
      Some as sauce, pie filling, canned apples, apple butter and cider.
      I will be doing it in a pressure canner (holds 19 or 20 quarts) and a water bath (holds 15 quarts) just to be faster. Going to be tight on the stove top!

      Should last somewhat longer this year!

  19. I have a canning question hopefully someone can help me with. About a week ago, I canned some apple pie filling (mmmm) and last night I heard a pop in the basement. I went and checked it and one of the lids had popped off! About a day after I canned them, i did the test where I pushed on the lid and they all were firm. Then a few days later I did the test where you lift the jars by the flat part and make sure it is sealed and they all did that. So, why now did that one unseal? I put it in the fridge hoping that I can still use it. The basement is probably in the 50’s and they were only down there a few days. Is it okay to use or should I toss it? Thank you so much in advance!! 🙂

    • I’ve never had a lid pop off that long after canning, but every time I’ve had a lid not seal, it is because of one of two reasons:

      1) I didn’t let the lids sit in the hot water long enough to loosen the red seal. The lids need at least 10 minutes in boiling water to soften enough to provide the seal.

      2) I didn’t do a solid enough job of cleaning the rims of the jars with a really hot wet rag before placing the lid on it.

      If it’s only been a few days and you heard the prop, I’d probably still eat it, but that is me. If I went down there to grab it and found the lid wasn’t sealed, I’d toss it. The fact that it was sealed until you heard that pop makes me feel fine about eating it. But again, that’s just me!

  20. Thanks for sending me to this post! I have a feeling I am actually going to learn to can and have a lot of stuff to can this coming year. Why? Because we will be moving next November-ish and I won’t be able to take all my canned goodies with me.

  21. Another useful tip given to me many years ago by a number of seasoned canners is to remove the rings before storage. They will never rust and you’ll never need to replace them.

  22. I have a juicer that cooks down all my apple (or other fruit/veggie) waste to produce juice and, even more importantly, the start of a syrup that mixes beautifully with all types of beverages. Highly recommend investing in one….it has been a game changer and I don’t feel like I am wasting the skins etc.