Homemade Applesauce

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This post was originally published last November. However, we’re heading into applesauce season again, so I’ve updated it to include an organized recipe and am re-posting it now, for all of you who didn’t see if the first time around.

To me, applesauce is the quintessential fall food. I have fond memories of wandering the antique apple orchard at the Bybee-Howell House on Sauvie Island (a mostly agricultural island outside of Portland), really bundled up in scarves and layers for the first time of season, picking up windfall apples* with my mom and sister. Often, we’d bring our dog with us, and she’d run between the trees, tossing apples up in the air with her nose and then chasing after them.

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We’d come home with grocery bags full of bruised, but still edible fruit. My mom would cover counter tops with newspaper and we’d begin to peel. When the fruit was all de-skinned, cored and chopped, it would go into her biggest soup pot with a splash of orange juice, cinnamon and grated nutmeg until it had cooked down into a homey sauce.

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These days, I still make a yearly batch of applesauce, but I do it a little differently than we used to. I’ve learned over the years to not spend a whole lot of time peeling or chopping my apples. Instead, I cut the apples into quarters and remove the core (of course, if you have windfall fruit, you do have to invest the time in cutting away the bruises and bad spots). The quarters go into the pot with half a cup of apple cider to simmer. As they cook down, the skins will separate from the flesh of the fruit and you can just use a pair of tongs to fish them out.

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I like slightly chunky, unsweetened applesauce, seasoned with lots of cinnamon, nutmeg and a dash of cloves (depending on how I’m feeling, sometimes I’ll also add a bit of allspice or powdered ginger), so once the skins are removed and the apples are smashable with the back of a wooden spoon, I’m done. However, if you like a smoother product, feel free to puree or run through a food mill (at this point, you could also go in a different direction and cook it down further, for apple butter).

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When it comes to adding sugar, fans of unsweetened applesauce can rejoice, as you are able to can applesauce without any additional sugar. If you want to increase the level of sweetness, you can add approximately 1/8 cup of sugar per quart. I sometimes add a bit of honey if I find the applesauce to be a little too tart. It’s important to taste your sauce before you can it, in order to balance out the sweet/tart flavors. If it’s too sweet, a bit of lemon juice will always brighten the flavors.

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To process, bring your applesauce to a boil and pack into clean, hot jars, leaving a half inch of headspace. Remove the air bubbles, wipe the rims and apply lids. Process in a boiling water bath for 15 (pints) or 20 (quarts) minutes. Store in a cool, dark place and enjoy homemade applesauce all year long.

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*The Bybee-Howell house used to be a historic site open to the public. They had a Wintering In event each fall that included hand pressed cider and so asked visitors to only pick the windfall apples, as they were saving the ones on the trees for the pressing. However, they lost their funding, the house is no longer open and the Wintering In event doesn’t happen anymore. So it may be that people are allowed to pick the apples. I don’t know for sure.

Homecanned Spiced Applesauce

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds apples
  • ½ cup apple cider or water
  • Optional spices:
  • 2 pieces star anise
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon cloves
  • sugar

Instructions

  1. Quarter apples. Put them in a large, non-reactive pot. Add liquid and star anise (if using), put on lid and bring to a simmer. Let fruit cook for approximately 15-20 minutes, until the fruit has broken down. Use tongs to fish out apple skins.
  2. Remove star anise. Using a potato masher or immersion blender, break down the fruit until it has reached your desired consistency. Add cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Taste and add sugar if you feel it is necessary.
  3. Pour applesauce into your prepared jars. Wipe rims, apply lids and screw on rings. Process in a boiling water canner for 15 minutes for half pints and pints, 20 minutes for quarts.
  4. When time has elapsed, remove jars from canner and let them cool on a towel-lined countertop.
  5. To store, remove rings and keep in a cool, dark place. Applesauce will keep in storage up to one year.
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119 Responses to Homemade Applesauce

  1. 51
    Amanda says:

    Marisa, and all who comment on this site, thank you! thank you! What a wonderful resource.

    Today I put up a batch of apples sauce that yielded 7 quarts. However, once I put the quarts in the hot water bath for processing I heard a crack. When I pulled out the jars right a way to check them and as I lifted one the bottom fell off and all the sauce poured right into the water bath. After processing the other quarts and removing them I discovered the same thing happened to anther one of the quarts. I’ve never experienced this before. The quart jars came out of a new case and now I’m wondering if I should use the remaining 5 quart jars. I realize the lost of two jars and the sauce is no major financial loss but it still felt awful to see all that sauce just dissolve into the water bath. The jars and the sauce were both warm if not hot. Have you ever had the bottoms of jars just break off like that?

    • 51.1
      Tamar says:

      That happened to me last night too, but luckily I was just sanitizing the jar so it was empty. I’m not sure what makes them crack or break. My jar was brand new.

      • Vicki says:

        It happened to me one time. And it was the worse time of all as I was canning leaks. As I was waiting for the batch to get done processing my eyes and throat started to burn lol. I knew something had gone wrong. Canning leaks is bad enough all by it self but let a jar break in the canner and that is the worst. Took a bit for everything to stop burning. And they were wild leaks and I think that’s one of the reasons they were so strong. If it was a new box of jars I would write a letter or email the company and tell them. They will probably send you a coupon. Its worth a shot and the only thing you will lose is your time if they don’t send you one.

        • Amy says:

          I Wrote the Jarden, Company who makes ball jars. I complained that I have been loosing between 5-7 jars per canning season. I have lots of jars from the 50-70′s that I have been using for many years, I have been canning along side my mom and on
          my own for 23 years. They just wrote me back giving me all kinds of tips, but in the
          end they are sending me a coupon for a free box, of jars. My reason for emailing them
          they need to thicken up the glass on the newer jars. I have never had my old jars, break it’s the thickness of the old glass.

    • 51.2
      Bliss says:

      My brother had that happen last month while trying to make apple jelly, but only one jar out of the set was affected. I think every now and then there’s simply a small flaw somewhere in the glass that gives way with the temperature change.

    • 51.3
      Judith says:

      While I don’t know for sure why your jars broke, I would suggest checking the difference of temperature in the water canner and your jars . If the temperature of your jars/product is not the same, or close to the same, temperature as the water in the canner, this will cause jar breakage.

      I usually sterilize my jars in a 225*F overn, but one time I wasn’t paying attention and had it set to 350*F instead. When I went to pour in hot broth, which was about 220*F, the difference in temp cause the jar to break immediately. It cracked in a circle all around the bottom, and of course cascaded all over the counter and floor. :)

      Another thing that can cause jars to break are micro scratches. Try to never use scouring pads on your jars. While the micro scratches may not look like much, they are in fact a weak spot in a high pressure situation. I lost a couple jars of tuna because of this.

      Hope this helps.

  2. 52

    [...] at Food in Jars (a blog I recently subscribed to) tells how she preserved her applesauce and has a nice apple butter recipe I would like to [...]

  3. 53
    Ms. Ryan says:

    What size jars–approx how much does this recipe make?

  4. 54
    Lauren says:

    I’m contemplating making another batch of this right now – SO delicious! I think the last time I had applesauce was as a kid and I didn’t like it at all (then again, it was some packaged, sad applesauce.) I decided I would finally try making applesauce and man, is this recipe where it’s at! I used a mix of cortland and haralson apples so I added a bit of sugar, about a cup, and then blended a little bit with the immersion blender and left it a little chunky. Oh, and I added allspice in addition to the other spices, really really nice. Thanks for the recipe!!

  5. 55
    Jessica Roberts says:

    Heh – it must be fall again, as I’m back looking at this page for the first time since last year. Marisa, can you give or point me to any guidance about types of apples to use? I made several kinds last year and some came out creamy/buttery while others stayed sort of firm and grainy (the apples were definitely cooked, but it just didn’t melt into sauce; I had to use a food mill and even then it had a different texture). I’m about to buy a LOT for sauce from our local co-op, and I’d like to be sure that I get a good result.

  6. 56
    Moonwaves says:

    I knew I’d be likely to find the answer to my question here. I put some jars of applesauce into a water bath yesterday and the water looked very applely when they were finished. This morning, two jars are not sealed but ALL of the other had applesauce around the inside of the rings. They’re sealed though so I’ve cleaned them off and based on what I’ve read above, they should be okay.

    Will check the seals again a few times over the next few weeks as I just checked the jars I did last week and one that I thought was sealed (had done the lift by the lid test) is completely open (with the attendant mould) – I think that was the jar I knocked against just after taking it out of the pot though and it had seemed to pop down the lid very quickly after that so I think it was a bit of a false seal.

  7. 57
    Tami says:

    Thanks for the tip on not peeling the apples. I love that! I’ve been doing it for years the hard way and every year I debate whether I have the space for a crank apple peeler. This is really helpful!

  8. 58

    [...] with a knife. I also replaced the sweetener with home-canned apple sauce to make it baby-friendly (see how to make your own apple sauce). I find it sweet enough as is, but if you want your own portion to be sweeter, consider a slather [...]

  9. 59
    Teri McCormick says:

    I am so inspired to make applesauce after reading the recipe and all comments. I will report back on how it all goes.

  10. 60
    Joanne K-J says:

    Since the jars are processed for more then 10 minutes would it be safe to keep the jars warm in the oven before filling and processing?

  11. 61
    Christine says:

    I just finished my first batch of the season! Its mostly for my two year old to eat because she loves apple sause, but also sore for baking, I like to used apple sauce in place of oil.

  12. 62
    Judy Kelley says:

    Hi, I have canned since I was about 15 yrs old with my stepmother who taught me how to can, I am now 70 and for the first time I decided to try apple sauce. I have shared some with a friend who loves them. I have noticed though that as the year slowly moved on– the top third of my apple sause has become browner and browner. Is this normal and is there a way to avoid this from happening? We usually dry our apples.
    thanks for any feed back. Judy

  13. 63
    bridgit says:

    Thanks for sharing your wealth of knowledge so consistently on this blog!This will be our third year making/canning apple sauce for a family (we do it in the crock pot, boil half the peels, then puree them in the food processor to add extra nutrition). A few years ago we stumbled upon a revelation: salt. Cook’s Illustrated had done an apple sauce taste test, and one soared above the rest. They checked the ingredients: apples, salt. They added a touch of salt to the other competitors, and now there was very little difference between the top contenders. Now that we’ve started adding salt, I cannot believe how good it is compared to store-bought stuff.
    (I’m probably breaking a “good-blogger” rule by posting this here before I post it on my site, but whatever, you’re the canning diva [in the very best sense of the word] so maybe you can try it out and spread the word.)
    PS Sorry to hear about your job. Between my husband and I we have had 3 lay-offs in the past 18 months. Sounds like you have a great attitude about it. Wishing you all the best!

  14. 64

    [...] in Jars - Canning 101 Round Up, Homemade Applesauce, [...]

  15. 65

    [...] Applesauce from food in jars My go-to source for anything canning related.  I made one batch plain, another with lots of spice.  I preserved some in large jars, some in small jars, to be enjoyed over the winter, on top of pork chops and mixed into yogourt and oatmeal. [...]

  16. 66
    Pam Clifton says:

    This year will be my first time making applesauce. I’m anxious to try this recipe. I don’t see indication of how many jars it makes. Does anyone know how many pints or quarts I can expect from 4lbs of apples?

  17. 67

    [...] Adapted from Food in Jars [...]

  18. 68
    Lisa Cardoza says:

    I took a jam class in SF and they recommend your site. I have to say even though I cook for a living I still did not grow up canning and jamming. I suppose I’m a tiny bit apprehensive about failure. My first attempt to can was today with your applesauce recipe. Very nice. I added some fresh ginger and a mix of whatever apples I could find here in SF at the Civic Center Farmers Market, which is for those of us on a budget.

    Nice way to begin, I did add way less of the spices because my apples did not seem to yield that much. Which is fine since I really like the idea of “small batches” it’s the only way I can fathom doing more cooking outside work.

    This is really a great site I plan on returning to often. Please let me know when you come to San Francisco!

  19. 69

    [...] Homemade Spiced Applesauce from Food in Jars [...]

  20. 70

    [...] moments of helping mom bake pies, make applesauce or prepare dinner are memories I’ll cherish forever. While my mother probably would tell you [...]

  21. 71
    Lisa says:

    A friend left a huge bagfull of apples of my doorstep, thanks so much for sharing, I can’t wait to eat it and I haven’t even finished chopping the apples yet!

  22. 72

    [...] sale at the market yesterday and I have been dying for some…so this is the recipe I used from Food in Jars. Homecanned Spiced [...]

  23. 73
  24. 74

    [...] from a phone conversation with my Mother, Food in Jars, and Make the Bread, Buy the [...]

  25. 75
    ursula says:

    I am making apple sauce again this year but am reluctant to can them as I did last year. How do you know if all the bubbles are out of the jar before sealing and processing. Last year I lost many many jars to false seals and fermentation. I am leaning towards freezing the sauce…any advise?

  26. 76

    [...] Pork Chops in the Crock Pot Baby Baked Potatoes Spiced Applesauce Asparagus Garden [...]

  27. 77
    Donna Coval says:

    I also am wondering freezing applesauce over canning, I’ve canned one batch so far and thought I would freeze this batch. Any advice?? How long will they keep and so on;;; any advice will be appreciated and by the way , Love your website!!! I made your tomato jam and rhubarb rosemary jelly, yum ,yum!!! Also peach jam.

  28. 78

    [...] Unsweetened applesauce gives this cake from Hungry Girl por Vida its moist and lightly sweet flavour. Spiced with cinnamon and allspice, and topped with a brown butter-cream cheese frosting, it makes the perfect fall snack cake. To kick it up a notch, make your own unsweetened applesauce. [...]

  29. 79

    [...] adapted this recipe from the canning blog Food in Jars by leaving out the sugar and sweetening the apple sauce with a [...]

  30. 80
    Abigail Cole says:

    I hope this is the right place to ask this. I made my first batch of anything canned yesterday. I made applesauce and the first recipe i found said to process for 10 minutes. Now stuff i read says 15. I made 6 pints and one 1/2 pint. Now I’m paranoid. Do i have to throw it all out?

  31. 81

    [...] I used almost half on tarte tatin and apple butter. I used the rest for this unbelievably simple applesauce recipe from Food in Jars. You don’t even need to peel the apples, the skins just fall right off. I [...]

  32. 82
    Rebecca says:

    Hello!! Thanks for the recipe, as usual. I did a “batch” (it was 20 lbs of fabulous Jonagolds). I tasted all the varieties at one of the local farm stands. Jonagolds won. They are totally a non-fave for eating but perfect for cooking – really soft and flavorful. I did half unpeeled and the other half peeled. Honestly, while you can pick out the skins, with a child who is slightly fussy, it was worth it to just peel them first. I did a spice bag for the first half and just re-used for the second round. They cooked fast enough that it wasn’t even worth it to dirty another huge pot. Combined both batches before canning… added a tiny bit of salt as was mentioned somewhere here I think. AWESOME. Other spices were star anise and cloves in the spice bag (a large fill-yourself tea bag) and nutmeg and cinnamon in the mix. No honey or cider, I used water for the necessary liquid, although I didn’t measure anything (um, yeah, I’m that person).

    20# apples = 14 pints of sauce.

    This is super fast if you peel and cut smaller. Especially if they are not firm apples. I had to wait for the dishwasher to finish with my jars. Usually it’s the water boil I wait for – new gas range has solved that though.

    I’ll stop now. :)

  33. 83

    […] Applesauce is also a great food to start canning with because it can’t really be messed up. Here’s a great recipe from one of my favorite […]

  34. 84
    Crystal says:

    I am in Alberta, Canada & I just followed this recipe yesterday-we LOVE it!!! Love that it lets the natural sugars shine through and isn’t overpowered by added sugar. We have a large producing apple (and tart cherry) tree in our backyard that makes great sauce. I loved that we didn’t have to peel the apples, however when I tried to pick the skins out, they were disintegrating and falling back into the pot, so I just used an immersion blender to mix them in-added fiber! ;-) Also, I totally forgot to take out the star anise before I did that, so they have a lovely anise flavor, which we love. Great recipe/guidelines & can’t wait to check out your other recipes.

  35. 85

    […] the remainder further down the yard. I guess I will head out tonight to harvest some to make some applesauce before the kids and the other assorted strangers strip the tree […]

  36. 86
    Gail says:

    I add organic cinnamon and organic maple flavoring to our applesauce. YUM! Everyone loves it and each year I’m asked when I’ll have the applesauce ready. Once in a while I add organic vanilla (and cinnamon) but the sauce with the maple flavoring and cinnamon is the hit.

    Enjoy!

  37. 87
    Emily M. says:

    So, can I safely say that any applesauce, regardless of how it is cooked, that contains sugar (brown or white), cider/water, and apples an safely be canned using appropriate waterbath techniques?

  38. 88
    kristin from mn says:

    Your photography is Beautiful! I can’t wait to make this! Do the lids need to be prepared at all? I plan to make the sauce in the slow cooker all day then process the jars in a hot water bath. Do I need to do anything to prepare the jars? Thx

  39. 89
    Molly says:

    Hello,
    I just made a batch of applesauce very similar to this but added some butter and canned it.
    Does it seem that adding butter would render my canned applesauce unsafe to store on the shelf and eat?
    Sorry for the very idiotic question…. I am very new at this!

    • 89.1
      Beverly says:

      No butter in canning. You need to throw those jars out as they are unsafe. You should always follow canning recipes exactly and not deviate or make adjustments, especially if you are new at this.

  40. 90
    Jennifer says:

    Can I use this technique for pears also? I am trying to find a safe recipe for pear sauce but am having trouble finding one from a tested, reputable source. If I follow this and just change from apples to pears will I have a safe recipe to can? Thanks so much for your help. I have canned quite a few things from your recipes and am so grateful for your blog!

  41. 91
    LuAnne says:

    How much does this recipe make? Ballpark idea so I have enough jars ready to go.
    Thanks

    • 91.1
      Marisa says:

      Probably 4 to 5 pints, though it’s been several years since I posted that recipe, so I can’t tell you for certain.

  42. 92
    Miriam says:

    I’m so glad to see this! I just made a batch of my mother’s recipe for applesauce last night and canned it, but had a moment of wondering if I needed to add lemon juice this morning. My mom’s recipe is similar to yours, except she doesn’t bother coring or peeling the apples and just uses a food mill once it has cooked down. I used a combo of jonagold, macoun, and pink lady apples last night and was pleased with the outcome. Except the jonagold’s are so delicious that I’d rather just eat them raw!

  43. 93

    […] looking for some fairly simple fall canning, here’s the recipe I used for sauce, adapted from Food in Jars cookbook. If you’re not into canning (I haven’t convinced you yet?), no worries. You […]

  44. 94
    Katy says:

    How many pints does it make?

  45. 95
  46. 96
    Kelsey says:

    I am making this recipe today and canning away now that it is apple season in Australia! Our farm and nearby orchard is giving a plenty, so I am very grateful for the canning tip as I used to just make and eat in small batches :)

    I have all of your books, I just love them! I am living my first year on our rural farm and learning so much along the way – including preserving! And your books are my bible :) xx

  47. 97

    […] dishes, curries and soups, or most commonly whole in Honey-Glazed Roasted Ham, but also ideal for Apple Sauce, cakes, gingerbread, and a secret ingredient in BBQ […]

  48. 98
    Joy says:

    I am wondering if you can safely add other fruit to applesauce and can it? Specifically, strawberries are in season where I live and I would love to make strawberry applesauce, unsure if I need to adjust acidity, or processing time, or sugar to make it safe? Thanks!

  49. 99
    Dillon says:

    I have fond memories of picking up windfall apples in my Grandmother’s back yard (her’s were green apples) and in my Aunt’s back yard (she had red). It was the job of us kids to pick up all the apples on the ground for apple butter (and sauce, but more so butter) every year, not apples off the tree only the fallen ones. My Grandmother always told us that they made better apple butter & apple sauce that it was the same principle as banana bread – old brown bananas make better bread. My Grandmother was amazing like that.

  50. 100
    MaryJean Lesch says:

    I have learned the easy way to cook my fruit (all of my fruit) in my large crock pot. Some takes 1 day, some takes 3 days to cook down. Stir when ever you go by. Just let it cook away. So easy then I hot water pack bath them right there. Not much mess and quick.

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