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Canning Day Quilt
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Canning Applesauce

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Canning applesauce is one of my favorite canning days of the year.  It smells heavenly when it’s cooking… and yesterday was shaping up to be a wonderful canning day.  It was the first real cold snap of the season and the weather report said to expect rain (we actually had snowflakes falling, though not sticking.)  I love canning applesauce when it’s stormy outside.

But the day was full of snafu’s all kinds… and it turned out to be an epic day of canning.  It’s a good thing I was in such good company!

Kate and I have canned applesauce for about 5 years together.  We always have such a wonderful time.  This year our dear friend Heather joined us (and I just hope we didn’t turn her off from canning forever.)  We decided to bottle 3 bushel boxes of apples… that’s a whopping 130 pounds.

The day started with us burning our first batch of applesauce. Not a good omen.  It didn’t get better when Heather backed into a fire hydrant with her poor car as she was running to the school for a quick errand.  The car bumper and tire were totally ruined.  The good news is the fire hydrant didn’t even budge.  I don’t think they really break and send geysers of water shooting into the air like they do in the movies.

All day long the applesauce seemed really slow to cook.  Maybe we were nervous about burning another batch and keeping the heat too low, but I think it also had something to do with the apples.  We quickly came to the conclusion that this was a bad year for Jonathan apples in Alpine.  The fruit was less juicy than normal which caused them to be more likely to burn, and our sauce lacked the lovely pink color it usually has.

The good news is… we were able to “Make it Do” and ended up with absolutely delicious sauce (even if it wasn’t as pretty as we are used to.)

Now if you still trust me after all that… here is how I make applesauce.

You will need:

  • Jonathan Apples – in my humble opinion Jonathan’s make the best applesauce.  I do not like super sweet applesauce.  I like sauce that is a little tart, not too sugary but still a little sweet… more natural tasting I guess.  I also love the wonderful pink color you get from Jonathan’s made with a Victorio Strainer
  • Sugar (but not too much)
  • Canning jars
  • Lids and rings
  • Victorio Food Strainer & Sauce Maker
  • Boiling water canner
  • Canning Tongs
  • A wide mouth canning funnel
  • Lots of bowls, large spoons and spatulas

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1.  Start by washing your apples.  Also put your canning jars in the dishwasher to sterilize, once your cycle is finished leave them in the dishwasher to keep them warm until you need them.  And place your lids in a small dish pan and simmer but don’t boil.  Keep your lids warm until you need them.

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2.  Next quarter your apples.  Remove the little fuzzy ends and the stem end of the apple.  You do NOT need to peel or core your apples.  Isn’t that slick… and quick?

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These apples are ready for the pot.  Notice the skins, core and seeds.  You don’t need to worry about them,  the strainer will do the work of removing those for you.

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3.  Place your apples in a stock pot and pile them high… and I mean a couple inches above the top of the pot.  As soon as they start cooking the apples shrink and the lid just falls into place.  You also need to add a small amount of water to your pot.  For my 10 quart stock pot I normally use 1/2 cup of water, because Jonathan’s are naturally really juicy.  For a 6 quart pot use more like 1/3 of a cup.  This not an exact science.  Today our apples were not so juicy and I used closer to 1 1/2 cups for the 10 quart pot… to keep the apples from burning while cooking.  Just remember you can always put water in, but you can’t take it out.  In the 10 years I have been making applesauce, this is the first year I’ve used more water.

Start cooking over medium high heat.  And when they are really cooking reduce the heat.  Don’t be tempted to crank up the heat or your apples will burn on the bottom.  This takes approximately 30 minutes and sometimes (like today) even longer.

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4.  Once your apples are soft and the skins are pulling away from the apple, take your pan off the heat.

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5.  Now for the Victorio strainer,  I borrow my mother in laws and yesterday we also borrowed my neighbors.  A Victorio Strainer isn’t something you use often and is a great thing to share with family or friends.  Bring the pot of apples and set it next to the strainer.  You ‘ll need one container to catch the sauce, and another out the side funnel to catch the waste.  Now to get started.  We use a Pyrex measuring cup to scoop out the hot apples from the pot and pour into the funnel of the Victorio Strainer.  Then crank the apples through, three boxes of apples is a great way to work out your arm muscles!  The sauce comes out one side and the waste- the peel, core and seeds come out the other.  After cranking through one pot of apples, we always put the “waste” through the funnel a second time.  This gives you more sauce and “wastes not.”

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6.  Now that you have your beautiful sauce, this is the time to season it.  Check for sweetness and add sugar if needed.  This year our apples were more tart than usual and we needed more sugar.  Go by taste, and what you like.  You can also add cinnamon or apple pie spice or anything else you like.  My family likes just plain applesauce.  This is also the time to add water (or apple juice) if your sauce is too thick.  Yesterday we had to add water to get it to a nice applesauce consistency.  Remember your sauce does get a little thicker once the jars have been processed.

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7.  Take your warm jars from the dishwasher and fill with your warm applesauce.  A wide mouth canning funnel is essential.  Fill your jars just to the ring at the base of the jar neck, leaving about 1/2 inch of space at the top of the jar.  Don’t overfill or it can overflow.

8.  Using a butter knife run the knife around the jar, removing any air bubbles.

9.  Carefully wipe around the top of jar, making sure it is perfectly clean.

10.  Place warm lids centered on jar and screw on the ring finger tight.

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11.  Place the jars in your canner with warm, but not boiling water.  You don’t want the water to be a lot hotter than the jars or you’ll break a jar (trust me on this one.)

12. As soon as the water is at a rapid boil, start timing.  Here are the processing times for applesauce:

  • 0- 1000 feet                pints:   15 minutes        quarts:  20 minutes
  • 1000- 3000 feet                       20 minutes                      25 minutes
  • 3000- 6000 feet                      20 minutes                      30 minutes
  • Above 6000 feet                      25 minutes                      35 minutes

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13.  Once your jars are finished, carefully remove them from the canner using canning tongs.  Place them on a clean dish towel, leave about an inch of space between each jar for them to cool.  You should hear them popping to seal.  Leave the jars on the counter overnight to cool.  Once the jars are cool, be sure to check the seal, the lid should be firm and slightly concave.

If you have a jar that did not seal, you can put it in the refrigerator and eat.  Or you can reprocess the jar.  Throw away the lid that did not seal.  Make really sure the top of the jar is clean.  Replace with a new canning lid (make sure you simmer that new lid for about 5 minutes) and reprocess the jar.

We love to eat applesauce throughout the year.  I serve it with lunch or as a great after school snack.  My husband loves it in the morning on toast or wheat pancakes.  He especially loves it on hot wheat bread right out of the oven.

I’ll give you one warning.  This sauce is so good, you’ll never want store bought sauce again.

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41 Responses to “Canning Applesauce”

  • wow. your instructions make it look do able! thank you.

  • Christephi:

    I *love* applesauce! I actually canned for the first time two weeks ago and guess what I made, yep, applesauce! I used Empire apples which is what was available when we went apple picking. They were perfect and I didn’t even need to add a bit of sugar!

    Oh, and fire hydrants really DO break off and shoot water 30 feet in the air… Trust me on that and “don’t try this at home.” Ha!

  • How many cans did your 3 bushels of apples make? I just got a whole bushel of Jonathan apples from my husband’s grandmother, so I have to tackle this project this weekend! Timely post :) Thanks for the help!

    • Coralie, We made a whopping 50 quarts of sauce from those 3 bushels. And that was after burning some of the apples. I usually get about 15 quart bottles from a bushel box. Have a great time this weekend, you’ll just love how wonderful the house smells. cheers, Calli

  • I have always wanted to make my own applesauce.. Thanks for the easy directions!

  • This looks so good!! I’ve made it in years past but this looks like you actually had fun doing it. The kitchen is beautiful and the photos are beautiful. Looks like it should be all on tv.

  • What great tips! I’ve only canned pears before (with the help of my mother in law) and she got me a canner for Christmas. Today, we’re canning applesauce as part of our homeschool – we are studying food preservation. I know it isn’t the best time of year to do it, but I decided to go ahead anyway.

    I love the idea of your blog ‘make it do’ and how you made do even with the beginning mishaps to your canning time.

    Thanks for all the helpful tips! Hopefully I can get my process posted to help others as well. (We’re also trying strawberry fruit leather today too)

  • This post was so helpful! I spent yesterday researching “how to” and today “doing.” It was my first time canning flying solo and I’ve been a bit nervous about it. Loved the pictures and the step by step instructions. Thank you! My applesauce is processing as I type this. I have my fingers crossed!

  • Julie C:

    Very productive day! Where did you get your 10 qt stock pot?

  • Todd:

    How much water do you put in the pot when canning the jars, this is not a pressure canner, correct?
    Do you fill the pot up to the necks of the jars like I do for canning tomatoes?

    • Calli:

      I use a large boiling water canner and make sure there is at least 1 inch of water over the tops of the jars. I usually keep a smaller pot of boiling water on the side to add a little if it’s needed. I don’t start timing until my pot comes to a boil.

  • Launa:

    Any suggestions on how to do this if you don’t have a strainer or access to one?

    Fire hydrants really do knock over and water sprays 30 ft in the air. My better half found out the hard way! lol

    • Calli:

      Hi Launa, Yes you can make applesauce without a Victorio strainer. I’ve made it before to top pork, but not for canning. You will need to peel and core your apples before cooking. Then cook your apples with just enough water to keep them from sticking. Once soft you can run them through food mill, food processor. Or if you can use a potato masher or even just stir vigorously for a more chunky applesauce. Add sugar and seasoning to taste and bottle your sauce using safe canning methods. Good luck! -Calli

  • [...] of canning applesauce.  We’ve both looked forward to this day for months, despite a mishap riddled canning day last year.  Yesterday was our best applesauce day ever.  The apples were so tartly sweet we barely needed [...]

  • wil:

    wish me luck, in mid nov. i’m doing a work shop, my very firt time, but i grew up around for about 8-10 years, i fetched every thing out of the garden,but only watched like filling jars, timeing the food, so my topic is applesauce. i saw your recipe, liked it and i hope i don’t fail you.

  • Spencer:

    Do your processing times for quarts also apply to half gallon jars? I see all the jars in the photo are half gallon.

    • Calli:

      They are actually quart jars. I suspect the canning times would be longer for half gallons. I would check with your local state extension service for processing times.

      • Penny:

        About half-gallon jars: They are sold as “for decorative use only” as they are NOT recommended for canning purposes. I believe it is because they do not heat thoroughly enough to kill the bacteria.
        Just love your pictures by the way. My mother-in-law’s apple tree had a bad year last year so no applesauce for 2011. The previous year was a bumper year and I made a delicious mix with plum puree. (The plums weren’t intended to be pureed; it was another learning experience about remembering to actually set the timer.)
        Roll on 2012 harvest!

  • Do you quart processing times apply to half gallon jars?

  • Thank you for this lovely tutorial. Simple and exactly what I needed.
    For those out there who are buying apples by the pound instead of bushel – 75 lbs of apples (minus probably 10 apples or so that my children snitched)made 24 quarts of applesauce, plus 5 servings that were immediately consumed, ha! When I added up the costs of the lids and my apples ($10 for each 25lb box) it turned out to be about 3.5 cents per ounce finished product (counting only the jars and not the snitches). Not free, but still for an excellent product a good price.
    Also, for those with steam canners I believe you follow the same processing times (correct me if I’m wrong on this). You begin the timer when your steam shoots out a good 8-10 inches and you want to keep it that way for the duration of the time.

  • LINDA:

    I found your page when I googled homemade apple sauce. I needed to know processing times. I have made apple sauce before and it is so easy. Your site is very easy to understand great for beginners.

  • Brittany:

    Hi, great step by step tutorial!
    I’d like to make applesauce with the skins on. I know it won’t be as smooth but I prefer that. I was thinking of pureeing the apples (skins on, but cored) and then cooking them and canning. What are your thoughts on this?

    • Lara:

      Brittany: I core mine then chop up and simmer/cook. Once they’re cooked THEN I purée and voila! Then can it!

  • Jodiann:

    I have never canned anything My son loves applesauce so I am going to try that first Your step by step instructions are great Wish me luck
    Jodiann

  • mel:

    This is such a simple recipe! I love it! And your kitchen is GORGEOUS!

  • Yasha Beagley:

    Thanks for all the info.Im going to be trying for my first time tomorrow.
    And yes lol,fire hydrants DO / can break when hit by a car a shoot water everywhere!
    Your friend was lucky.I saw a car do it & it was literally shooting water through the engine & many,many feet in the air! Needless to say that person was very embarrassed because this caused LOTS of attention:)

  • Ally Roscoe:

    Any advice or modifications for canning pears into pearsauce vs. apples? I have a hole milk crate full and am hoping to can them this weekend. Love your instructions (well thought out, big pictures, very expressive!) so I am hoping you may have good modifications for me as well! God bless!

    • Calli:

      Hi Ally, I’ve never made pear sauce before, it sounds wonderful. I love pears. I would definitely call your local state extension service for advice. They are the pros and know canning times and if you need to add acid… etc. for safe canning. Here’s a link to the site to help you find your local number http://www.csrees.usda.gov/Extension/ Good luck!

  • Danielle:

    Can you freeze the jars after canning them?

    • Calli:

      Hi Danielle, Once you’ve canned your applesauce, it will keep for several years in storage. There really is no need to freeze your jars. Most importantly, I think the jars might break when the sauce expands during freezing. Good luck! – Calli

  • Robyn:

    Apples are one of the ‘dirty dozen’ fruits with the highest level of pesticides on the skin. I will definately peel mine before I cook them, especially for feeding to my toddler!!

    • Lara:

      Robin: peeling them does nothing to remove the pesticides. They’re tested the way they’re eaten. If you’re concerned about the pesticides the only way to avoid them is to buy organic!

  • Sarah:

    I actually make my applesauce in a crockpot. Apples, a bit of cinnamon and a bit of sugar. Leave it on low all day and voila, applesauce. I usually cook the entire apple, stems, seeds, skin and all…cut up. I then put through a Foley food mill. Absolutely THE best!

  • Ashley:

    Calli–where did you get that wonderfully huge jar funnel? I love that it’s metal (as opposed to plastic). Metal ones seem to be so hard to find…

    • Calli:

      Hi Ashley, I think I found it Bed, Bath and Beyond… with a coupon of course! It’s nice and sturdy and perfect for Mason jars.

  • Heather Butters:

    I would love to pin this is a way? I made this last year and I’m just about to make it again this year. I love it!! Jonathans are the best!

  • Heather Butters:

    Is there a way….ha ha ha

  • I tried this and my apples turned brown do you know why so I added cinnamon. I also used the sauce master and it didnt work for me. Thanks

  • franceska:

    We have been making applesauce, peach sauce and pear sauce for years. I finally came up with most perfect recipe!! I may try Jonathan though. Have always liked to mix 1 batch (my fav is honey crisp, golden delicious & red delicious) After reading this I noticed you do not use lemon juice of any kind. Why is that? I am making my largest batch ever this year (40qt) so was researching amt of bushels to amt of jars needed. I was always told we had to add lemon juice prior to adding things. Thank you for answering.

  • This is great! I have 20 lbs of CSA Jonathans on the counter and a cloudy, rainy afternoon to kill. Thank you for the tips!

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