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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 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.

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 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 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 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 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 5-10 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?

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. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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!

  8. 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.

  9. 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?

  10. 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?