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Canning Applesauce

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. 

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

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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!

When I open up a fresh jar from canning peaches, canning tomato soup, canning whole tomatoes, pear sauce, or applesauce in the middle of winter, it is always worth it. Even better, you can 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. The pretty pink sauce in these photos 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, freezing apples, 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 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 the finished sauce warm before canning 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 heat 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 them aside in a 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 them 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. 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 warm. Keep the sauce warm until you’re 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 sauce (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 plastic 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 15 minutes for pints and 20 minutes for quarts (see guide above for adjusted times). 

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

Carefully remove the jars with canning tongs, 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! Pro tip: not all lids will make a popping sound. It doesn’t mean they didn’t seal.

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 Are my Jars 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 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 sauce 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?

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 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 the sauce 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. You don’t have to can that many pounds at once, but you should have at least two jars in the canner at once while processing.
  • If you don’t have enough jars to fill the canner, consider Canning Water in a few jars to stock your emergency drinking water supplies.
  • 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 juice content.
  • Stir in some homemade Strawberry Puree into individual bowls prior to serving for a delicious apple/strawberry sauce.

More Recipes Like This

A bowl of bowl of homemade applesauce with cinnamon sticks and apples on a grey board
Print Recipe
5 from 14 votes

Canning Applesauce {Preserving Apples}

Prep Time1 hr
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time1 hr 20 mins
A step by step guide on Canning Applesauce with no sugar added.

Ingredients

  • 21 pounds apples

Instructions

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 applesauce 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 200 degrees F.
  • 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

  • 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.
  • 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).
  • Return the burner to high and bring the water in the canner back to a rapid boil.
  • Using a canning funnel, ladle in the warm applesauce into jars, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Remove any bubbles from the jar (I use a plastic chopstick).
  • Use a wet clean rag and wipe the rim of the jars to make sure it is free of any food.
  • Place a clean lid on the jar. Add a ring, and tighten to fingertip tight.

Canning the Applesauce

  • 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.
  • 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 hot jars 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.
  • 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).

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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51 comments on “Canning Applesauce”

  1. 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!!5 stars

  2. 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.

  3. 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!!

  4. 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.

  5. 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.5 stars

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

  7. 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.

  8. Looking forward to serving (read tasting) your homemade applesquish!!5 stars

  9. 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!5 stars

  10. 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.