Okay, so maybe canning applesauce won’t solve world peace. But it can create peace during that time of day when your kids get home from school, whining about how hungry they are. In my opinion it’s nearly the same thing.
Have you canned applesauce before? It can make you feel all mushy and warm inside when you look at all your lovely jars sitting there on the shelf. All made with care and love. And you can choose not to add sugar making it a little more natural and heathy than the store-bought kind.
In our area, there are quite a few apple orchards and if you time it just right, you can find fields to glean after the pickers have gone through. You just need permission to go through before you start, and you can get wonderful apples for free that are perfect for canning applesauce.
Choosing the Right Apple
The type of apple you use will determine the flavor of the applesauce. Avoid the tart apples like Granny Smith and go for apples that are naturally sweet, such as gala, fuji, red delicious, golden delicious, honey crisp, pink lady, and so on.
What You’ll Need
Jars, lids, and rings
Water bath canner
How to Can Applesauce
- Before you start processing the apples, make sure that your jars are sanitized by running them through the dishwasher. Use the hot water or sanitize cycle and then use the heated dry option. Lids can be placed in a pot of hot, but not quite boiling, water on the stove. Let them sit in that for 5 minutes before using. Make sure to have a lid lifter to pull the lids out when you’re ready for them. Lid lifters have a magnet on the end so you can get the lids out of the hot water without burning your fingers.
- Once the jars are ready, start processing the apples by washing them. I recommend using a produce wash with 1 part white distilled vinegar to three parts water. Spray the apples till their covered, rub the wash around the apples, and then rinse.
- Use an apple peeler/corer/slicer to remove the peel and core and slice the apples. Sliced apples will cook faster. If you’re planning on processing lots of apples (such as 50 lbs), you’ll be very grateful to have this little devices that will make things go a lot quicker. Plus it’s a great task for your older children to help with. However, you’ll also need a peeler and paring knife for those times that the peeler/corer fails (such as when the apple is too small or too soft).
- As you get some apples cored, peeled and sliced, place them in a big pot, such as a stock pot, with just an inch of water at the bottom. Put the lid on the pot once it’s full and cook on high. Reduce the temperature once it starts to boil. Cook until the apples are soft.
- Once the apples are soft, use a food processor or food mill (or a high-powered blender like the Vitamix) and mix to preferred texture. If you want really chunky applesauce, you can use a potato masher. At this point you can add cinnamon to the batch if you want cinnamon applesauce.
- Ladle the applesauce into the jars (or pour if using a blender) using the wide-mouth funnel to avoid spills and a towel to wipe any spills around the jars. Leave ½ inch of head space at the top. Applesauce should be kept hot during this process, so if needed, return the applesauce to the stock pot and keep at a low simmer.
- Place lids and rings on the jar, screwing the ring gently but not too tightly. Place the jars onto the rack of the water canner. Once full, lower the rack into the water, with the water covering the jars by an inch or two. Cook in boiling water for 20 minutes. Use the jar lifter to remove the jars from the canner. Place on a towel to cool and dry.
- Label and date your jars.
If you’re preparing a large batch of applesauce, many of these steps will be performed at the same time with workers at each station. This is one reason why it’s great to work together as a family because many hands make light work.
For variation, consider cooking other fruits with your apples, such as strawberries, pears, peaches, and so on. Just keep track of what’s in which batch, so you can label the jars later.
Have you made homemade applesauce? Tell me about it in the comments below. I’d love to hear about your experience!