Practical Preserving: Strawberry Applesauce

May 14, 2014

strawberries and apples

When I first started canning, each project was its own nice, neat, contained experience. I would shop for produce, make a recipe, process it in appropriate jars, photograph it, and share it here. However, over the course of the last five years, my approach has shifted a little bit.

While I do still occasionally pick out a recipe, buy the ingredients, and work my way through the steps, the bulk of my putting up these days is more utilitarian. I spend a lot of time looking at the contents of my refrigerator or fruit bowl and wondering, “What’s starting to decline*? Is there something I can breathe additional life into by applying heat, sugar, or vinegar?”

strawberry applesauce in jar

This strawberry applesauce is the result of one of those calculations. My friends at Beechwood Orchards** recently gave me bunch of apples that they’d had in storage since last fall and there were about three pounds worth in the crate that had no more than 48 hours of life left in their current state. I also had a pound of strawberries leftover from another project (more about that next week) that had been in the fridge for ages and needed to be used.

Though apples and strawberries rarely get paired together (I imagine mostly because they rarely share a season), my thought process went something like this. Apples and rhubarb have similar flavor profiles. Strawberries go beautifully with rhubarb. There’s really no reason why they shouldn’t also go well with apples.

taste of strawberry apple sauce

So I went with it. I peeled, cored, and chopped the apples. I hulled the berries and cut away any truly bad spots. And then I threw them in a pot with about 1/2 cup of water and let them cook down over very low heat for nearly two hours (mostly because I forgot about them). When I finally remembered to check the pot, the fruit had softened and all it took was a little work with a potato masher to turn it into a chunky puree.

The resulting sauce is pleasingly pink, plenty sweet without so much as a hint of sugar or honey, and just a bit tart. I’ve been eating it with a scoop of plain yogurt and some toasted walnuts for breakfast. I didn’t can it, but both apples and strawberries are high enough in acid to make them safe for canning, so one could.

How are you saving your produce from the compost pile these days?

*You will often hear that you should only use perfect produce that is in its prime for canning and preserving, but sometimes, the techniques of jamming, saucing, roasting, or pickling can also take aging produce and give it a new lease on life. That said, do steer clear of anything that is has started to turn or is truly rotten.

**The plan was that I’d make the rosemary apple jam from the new book to sample at the Headhouse Square Farmers Market a couple weeks back, but I didn’t manage to do it. Once again, my intentions were grander than my capacity to execute.

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18 thoughts on "Practical Preserving: Strawberry Applesauce"

  • I’ve been enjoying Farmers Markets and also get a CSA box so I get a little ahead of myself sometimes. This morning I saw a recipe for rhubarb chia jam. Not only did I have rhubarb in the fridge from the box two weeks ago, but also some sad looking strawberries in the fridge. A squeeze of lemon, some honey and I pulled together a pint of jam.

  • Well, right now I have a banana on the turn, a handful of withering strawberries, and some cherries that we bought as soon as they showed up in the stores such that they just aren’t very good yet, so…I think I may be chunking them all up and throwing them in the freezer for future smoothie consumption soon. This applesauce sounds fantastic too! Oatmeal and fruit, together at last. 🙂

  • Strawberry applesauce was my kids’ favorite last year! We had bags and bags of strawberries in the freezer from PYO outings, and in the fall, it seemed natural to add them to applesauce. My method is to chop everything and dump in the slow cooker with cinnamon sticks and a little water.

    In our house, suspicious produce generally gets baked into crumb cake, transformed into soup, or puréed for fruit pops.

  • I’m totally a practical preserver (hello wine jelly!). This would be excellent with strawberries from the freezer for jazzing up some lunches for those who insist on applesauce every day!

  • I’ve said it before – I’m not old, just overripe. A little heat, a dribble of hard liquor, and some sugar, I’ll be fabulous!

    I’m intensely utilitarian about cooking and preserving: what have I got that is about to go and what can I do with it? I can’t stand to waste things, and yet when things are perfect and in season — or I’m staring at perfection in the pick-your-own field — I find I have very little self control. So I can it to enjoy later, when strawberries are just a beautiful memory.

    The contents of my fridge, on the other hand, constantly threaten to get the better of me. But because the same mind chose those things, it’s easy enough to come up with a way to draw them together into something nice and harmonious for dinner. Luckily, the family are pretty game about eating “It had to go surprise.”

  • If I cook up something that is past its prime and a questionable candidate for canning, I stick it in the freezer. In fact, I have applesauce in the freezer and some not-so-hot strawberries in the fridge. I may try combining them, thanks to your experiment.

  • Brilliant way to make pink applesauce! Working through our freezer stores of fruit, just made rhubarb ketchup, on to the strawberries next!

  • I just cleared out last season’s rhubarb from the freezer to make room for this year’s – made a ton of rhubarb pie filling – nothing ever goes to waste – cook it or compost it

  • Apples and strawberries; This I just gotta make
    Pink applesauce; can also add a few candy red hots when cooking the apples. I also like to add a bit of cinnamon to my home canned applesauce

  • Oh my goodness this looks so delicious! Strawberry-picking is one of our favorite activities right now so it’s great to have new healthy recipes!

  • I always freeze my applesauce because I refuse to put sugar in it. But you said it’s okay to can without sugar? My applesauce is nothing but apples and spices – I slow cook them in the crockpot. I also leave on the skin – all I do is core and cook ’em, add the spices and mix it up with an immersion blender.

    Can I really can them at that point? Is it pressure or boiling? I’d love to get the applesauce out of the freezer!

  • Speaking of rhubarb and apples having similar flavour profiles, the first time I made crabapple butter, it smelled remarkably like rhubarb as I was cooking it.

  • Strawberry applesauce sounds delicious! Thanks for sharing this, I’m adding it to my ‘want to make’ list.

  • This looks fantastic- I have canned applesauce plenty, but it never occured to me that I could add strawberries. I followed the link to check the processing times, and I am wondering if you would adjust them at all due to the addition of the strawberries? The link seemed to only concern apples. I have a water bath canner, and usually do quarts, so it looked like 20 minutes was all the was necessary. I just wasn’t sure if that was enough for the strawberries too. Thanks!

    1. The processing time for applesauce should also be enough if you add some strawberries. They have a similar pH and don’t change the density significantly.

  • It seems like this is an approach that could work with other fruits besides strawberries if the ph is similar? ex. blueberries, cherries, yellow peaches?