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Canning Applesauce {Preserving Apples}

A step by step guide on Canning Applesauce with no sugar added. This easy to follow tutorial teaches you how to make applesauce for canning or freezing. This is the only canned applesauce recipe you’ll ever need to use for preserving apples at home.

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

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.

When I open up a fresh jar from canning peaches, canning tomato soup, canning whole tomatoes, 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!

Use some of your homemade applesauce for whipping up a batch of Cinnamon Apple Donuts!

What Apples Do You Use For Homemade Applesauce?

Most varieties 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. Avoid anything in the “juicing” category.

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. You can also can Apple Pie Filling with tart apples since there is some sugar added.

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.

If you have leftover apples when you’re done with this easy applesauce recipe, you’ll love canning apple butter, making healthy cinnamon apples, or Healthy Apple Nachos.

How to Sweeten Applesauce

My preference is to leave this applesauce unsweetened when canning. Apples have enough natural sugars to be safely canned without any added sweeteners. 

Canning no sugar added applesauce gives you more flexibility to use at a later time. You can always sweeten individual servings to taste once the jar is opened.

But if you would like to sweeten your canned applesauce, you can add sugar, honey, or even maple syrup. Start with a small amount (like 1/4 cup) and slowly add more to taste.

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 15 minutes for pints and 20 minutes for quarts. Some adjustments will need to be made based on altitude. See the guide below.

CANNING Applesauce EQUIPMENT LIST

Check out this in-depth post for a complete list of canning supplies.

  • Apples! You’ll need about 21 lbs per 7 quarts.
  • At least two large bowls. You can never have enough bowls when canning.
  • Large pot of water for parboiling the apples and another to keep warm OR use a:
  • Slow cooker (optional) to keep the applesauce warm before canning
  • Food mill (optional) but super helpful when canning a lot of apples at once
  • Canner: simple water bath canner, a pressure canner (which can double as a water bath canner), or even a huge stockpot with a rack in the bottom.
  • Canning tongs/jar lifter
  • Jars – quarts or pints.
  • Lids and rings
  • Wide mouth funnel
  • Cutting board
  • Slotted spoon
  • Strainer/colander
  • Chef’s knife
  • Ladle
  • Butter knife or plastic chopstick
  • Comfortable shoes. Don’t do this barefoot. Your back will hate you.
  • Clean washcloths and at least one thick clean towel.

How to Can Applesauce Without 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!

Alternatively, 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}

*A printable and detailed recipe card is available at the bottom of the post.

CANNING PREP

Prepare your water bath canner by filling it with water. You just need to have enough water to cover the jars by 2 inches once the water is boiling.

Set the canner on the stove. Turn the burner to high. Once it reaches a boil, reduce it to simmer. You want to keep the water hot so that everything is ready when the sauce is.

Wash and sanitize your jars. You’ll want to keep them warm to avoid having them crack when placed in the canner. You can fill them with hot water, or place them on a tray in the oven at 170 degrees F.

Wash your lids and set aside in clean place. You no longer need to simmer lids in water to keep them sterile. Woot!

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 warm. 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 in the 1950s. My sister and I played with it as kids, and my husband and I restored and updated it for our youngest. Full transformation here.

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 preserving apples

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 homemade applesauce

Lower your jars into the canner using canning tongs/jar lifter. Secure the lid and set the timer for 20 minutes (see guide above for adjusted times). 

Once the applesauce has processed for the appropriate amount of time, remove the canner from the burner, carefully take off the lid, and allow it to sit for 5-10 minutes. Pro tip: I tend to just slide it into the middle of my stove, as it weighs a ton.

Carefully remove the jars, and place them on a thick towel in a place where they can be undisturbed for 12 hours. The lids should start to pop within 20-30 minutes of being removed from the water.

That popping sound is music to your ears, as it tells you that everything has sealed. It’s a reward for all your work!

After the jars have rested for about 12 hours, press down in the middle of each lid. If it “gives” at all, the jar didn’t seal. Either enjoy it that day, put it in the fridge, or reprocess it.

Store in a cool dry place for 9-12 months.

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

How Long Does Homemade Applesauce Last?

Store any open jars in the fridge and use within a week. 

You can safely keep canned applesauce for 9-12 months in the correct conditions (dark space, not too warm). Make sure to label all of your jars and use the oldest ones first.

HELP! WHY Is My Canned Applesauce Leaking Juice/Sauce?

If you find that juice has leaked out after your jars have sealed, you have experienced a common canning issue called siphoning. It happens to the best of us!

Siphoning is typically caused by not allowing the jars to rest in the canner after they have finished processing. In the directions above, you’ll see that I recommend you remove the canner from the burner, remove the lid, and let it sit for 5-10 minutes.

This is important as it allows the jars time to rest before being allowed to cool on the counter. Doing this process will significantly cut down on siphoning.

IF YOU HAVE SIPHONING IN YOUR JARS, FOLLOW THESE STEPS:

  • Check – are the lids still sealed?
  • Look – have you lost more than half of the amount of liquid in the jar?
  • Examine – does the sauce look fresh or has it changed colors?

If the answer to the above three steps is “yes!”, then the homemade applesauce is safe to eat. 

Another common reason for siphoning is not leaving enough headspace in the jar. You need to keep 1/2 of space between the top of the food and the top of the jar to allow for the sauce to expand while it is in the canner.

WHAT IF MY JARS DON’T SEAL WHEN CANNING Applesauce

If you’ve correctly processed your homemade applesauce, and the lids still didn’t seal, you can reprocess them.

Double-check to make sure there are no:

  • Chips in the rim of the jar
  • Dried juice or bits of applesauce on the rim (anything between the rim and the lid may prevent a seal.

Best practices would involve using brand new lids for the reprocessing. Set aside the old lids to use for dry storage (related: Pantry Essentials for the Home Cook).

If the jars don’t seal on the second attempt, you likely have a bad batch of lids or your canning process has a step missing. Email me and we’ll try to troubleshoot what is going on.

For unsealed jars, you can place them in the fridge. Eat the applesauce within three weeks.

Freezing Applesauce

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

Pro Tips/Recipe Notes

  • You’ll need about 21 pounds of apples to fill seven quarts, 13 pounds to fill nine pints. A bushel of apples weighs 48 pounds and will yield 14-19 quarts. 
  • 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 higher water (juice) content.

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A bowl of bowl of homemade applesauce with cinnamon sticks and apples on a grey board
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5 from 13 votes
Canning Applesauce {Preserving Apples}
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 added. This is the only canned applesauce recipe you’ll ever need for preserving apples at home.

Course: Canning, Snack
Cuisine: American
Keyword: canning applesauce, how to can applesauce, how to make unsweetened applesauce
Servings: 28
Calories: 103 kcal
Ingredients
  • 21 pounds apples
Instructions
CANNING PREP
  1. Prepare your water bath canner by filling it with water. You just need to have enough water to cover the jars by 2 inches once the water is boiling.

  2. Set the canner on the stove. Turn the burner to high. Once it reaches a boil, reduce it to simmer. You want to keep the water hot so that everything is ready when the applesauce is.

  3. Wash and sanitize your jars. You’ll want to keep them warm to avoid having them crack when placed in the canner. You can fill them with hot water, or place them on a tray in the oven at 200 degrees F.

  4. Wash your lids and set aside in clean place. You no longer need to simmer lids in water to keep them sterile.

Prep the Apples/Sauce
  1. Set a medium/large pot of water to medium high on your stove.

  2. 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).

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

  4. Run the apples through a food mill to remove the seeds and skins. Keep warm until ready to can (I use my slow cooker set to warm).

  5. Ladle in the warm applesauce into jars, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Remove the bubbles from the jar (I use a chopstick).

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

  7. Place a clean lid on the jar and tighten the ring to fingertip tight.

Canning the Applesauce
  1. Lower your jars into the canner using canning tongs/jar lifter. Secure the lid and set the timer for 15 minutes for pints or 20 minutes for quarts. For canning at different altitudes, check out the guide in the post for adjusted processing times.

  2. 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.

  3. Pretty soon you’ll start hearing some “pops and pings” which are the sounds of the jars sealing. Yay!! You did it!

  4. 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, 13 pounds to fill nine pints. A bushel of apples weighs 48 pounds and will yield 14-19 quarts. 

 

This applesauce can be frozen in wide-mouth canning jars. Leave 1 inch of headspace in the jars to allow for expansion during freezing. 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 higher water (juice) content.

 

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

Nutrition Facts
Canning Applesauce {Preserving Apples}
Amount Per Serving (1 cup)
Calories 103 Calories from Fat 2
% Daily Value*
Fat 0.2g0%
Sodium 5mg0%
Potassium 181mg5%
Carbohydrates 27g9%
Fiber 2.7g11%
Sugar 23g26%
Vitamin A 50IU1%
Vitamin C 3.3mg4%
Calcium 10mg1%
Iron 0.5mg3%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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39 comments on “Canning Applesauce {Preserving Apples}”

  1. What kind of spices can I add to my applesauce and when should I add them? Thank you

    • Leslie, feel free to add any spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, or cloves. You would want to add them when the applesauce is in a saucepan or slow cooker (to stay warm). Basically, when you have all or most of the sauce made and BEFORE canning it!

  2. I SEE THE COLOR OF YOUR APPLESAUCE APPEARS TO BE RED IN COLOR. WHAT SPICES DO YOU USE IN THIS RECIPE? IS IT MORE CINNAMON IN FLAVOR?

    • Hi Jodie, the color is from the types of apples, not any spices/seasoning.

      In the post I noted: “This pretty pink sauce is a mix of Burgandy, Akane, and Jonagold, with the lovely rose hue coming mainly from the Burgandy”.

    • Hi there! Just wanted to check with you on a little concern I had (I’m sure it’s just me being paranoid). Yesterday, after I cooked my applesauce and was preparing to jar it, my husband needed me to leave with him from the house. Well I had to put the sauce in the fridge. I want to finish today so I guess my question is, should I heat it back up, get the jars all warm again and continue as usual? Thank you.

  3. 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. 

  4. 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.