Tuesday, October 6, 2009

How to Make and Can Applesauce

Today I wanted to share with you one of our family's most treasured fall projects: making homemade applesauce and canning it. I use applesauce quite a bit in my vegan, gluten-free baking recipes (which I will be sharing more of this fall) so I thought it would be fitting to demonstrate how to make it with step-by-step photos.

You will save a LOT of money by making your own applesauce, especially if you pick all of the apples yourself like we do. Just the other day the kids and I walked around the neighborhood and picked about 70 pounds of apples, Asian pears, and pears! I always find it amazing how much abundance there is and that people are more than willing to share their fruit. Thank goodness for double baby joggers!

In this recipe we will be making homemade apple-plum sauce though any fruit combination works. Think apple-blueberry sauce, or apple-peach sauce, or just plain apple sauce flavored with cinnamon. I don't have any of the fancy canning equipment so I thought it would be fun to show how to make applesauce with your everyday kitchen equipment.

First, take an 8-quart pot and fill it up with cored, chopped apples. Use sweet apples like honeycrisp, rome, fuji, gala, or red delicious. You can leave the skins on. I use about 3/4 apples to 1/4 other fruit. In this recipe I used pitted Italian plums. Place the pot on the stove, uncovered and simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

The above photo was taken at just about an hour of simmering. Make sure you stir the sauce with a long spoon to keep everything cooking evenly. Cook for about 2 hours total or until the fruit is well-cooked and mashes easily. You can add honey or agave to the sauce if desired. Sometimes I add a little lemon juice to help preserve the colors but it is not necessary.

Place a large colander over another pot or bowl (or use a food mill). Pour the sauce in batches into the colander to remove the skins. This is the fun part where the children can really get in there and help. Use a large spoon and stir the sauce to push it through the colander. The skins will remain in the colander.

After the applesauce is though the colander, dump out the skins and pour in more sauce from the pot. Continue to do this until all of the skins are removed. Place pot back on the stove to keep the applesauce warm until your jars are ready to be filled. While this is happening (assuming your child is doing the work) get your jars and lids ready by boiling them in a large pot to sterilize. I boil mine for about 15 minutes.

Place your empty jars (I use wide mouth pint jars) onto a towel on the counter and slowly pour in the sauce leaving about 1/4 inch of space at the top. Wipe the rim of each jar with a thin, damp dishtowel. This is a very important step! If any sauce remains on the rim you won't get a good seal. Then take the lids from the boiling water bath, using tongs, and carefully place onto each jar. Cap and seal.

Place jars into the boiling water bath. I use an 8-quart pot with a pasta strainer basket. Make sure your water is boiling first, before you put the jars in. I can only fit 3 jars at a time. Boil for 15 to 25 minutes, depending on your altitude (see below). Use tongs (I use stainless salad tongs for this) to remove each jar. Place on the counter to cool. Repeat with remaining jars.

Boil your applesauce pint jars for 15 minutes at sea level to 1,000 feet, 20 minutes for 1,000 to 6,000 feet, and above 6,000 feet boil them for 25 minutes.

After about 24 hours, test each lid by pushing your thumb into the middle. If it pops up the lid didn't seal. This rarely happens but it is important to test. If it does you can just use that jar right away and store it in the refrigerator. Label and date your applesauce jars and store in the pantry! Enjoy! :)

If you are interested in learning more about canning I recommend checking out an excellent blog, Food in Jars.

Applesauce can be used in:
Gluten-Free Vegan Peanut Butter Cookies

About the Author

Alissa Segersten holds a Bachelor's of Science in Nutrition from Bastyr University. She is the founder of Whole Life Nutrition, the mother of five children, a whole foods cooking instructor, professional recipe developer, and cookbook author. She is passionate about helping others find a diet that will truly nourish them, and offers elimination diet recipes, healthy gluten-free recipes, paleo and vegan recipes, as well as tips for feeding your family a nourishing, whole foods diet. Alissa is the author of two very popular gluten-free, whole foods cookbooks and guidebooks: The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook and Nourishing Meals. She is also the co-author of The Elimination Diet book. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram!


  1. I love the deep colour of this apple sauce!! Definitely better than a sad yellow =D.

  2. I did this with a friend a couple years ago and we had a great time doing it. Back then we used a recipe that seemed to have a ton of sugar in it. I've been wanting to do it again, but was a little foggy on all the steps. Seeing your pictures and explanation brought it all back. Thanks for posting this!

    Jennifer M.

  3. Yum-o! I have never made applesauce before and you make it look so easy! I must do it! I have to say, I just love coming to your blog for all of your very lovely photos! Thank YOU!

  4. This looks good...I like your fruit combination suggestions.

    I make my applesauce in the crockpot, with the skins, and without any sweetener or liquid/water. I then use my Vitamix to puree the mixture so that the skins become invisible and dad-friendly. :)

    By the way, your fig dressing sounds AMAZING. I think we're having it tomorrow on a spinach-apple salad and turkey-sweet potato-2 bean chili.

  5. I am heading up to one of our local farms today to get seconds on apples and load up for applesauce! Great pictures, too. I forgot about adding other fruits but love that idea...thanks!

  6. Lauren - Thanks, I love the purple color too. :)

    Jennifer - Just use sweet apples and you won't need any sweetener. Glad the pictures help! :)

    Amy - Thanks, making applesauce is really very easy and fun! Hope you get a chance to try it out! :)

    ~M - Thanks, I like the crockpot idea, sounds easy. Before I started canning, I made large pots of applesauce, with the skins, then pureed in the vita-mix, poured in containers, and froze them. It was very easy. Freezer space is an issue these days though. Enjoy the fig dressing, your meal plan sounds great! :)

    Cook4Seasons - Thanks Karen, happy applesauce-making! :)

  7. This looks great!! I love the tutorial. Thanks!

  8. I canned applesauce for the first time a couple weekends ago, with great success! I ended up with 7 pints, and plan to buy more apples and make more this weekend! I want to try apple pear sauce, but I love the idea of apple plum sauce too - maybe I"ll need to try a batch of each! I always cook down the whole fruit, then blend everything, so I get all the fiber and good stuff from the skins.

    I have a pressure cooker, and processed my jars in that, which worked like a charm.

    Another great post!

  9. This motivated me to have my husband pick up a few boxes of fruit from the local farm today.

    Apple/plum is currently in a waterbath with hopes for apple/peach tomorrow.

  10. I love this post - I have a water bath canner and it's great. I have never made applesauce but I'm planning on it soon.

    We don't have an abundance of fruit trees (I am always amazed at your fruit picking adventures...Dallas is just not like that!) but I think I can get them on sale for a great price.

    Thanks for taking the extra effort to show everything in detail. It really helps.

  11. One question - I use my applesauce in cooking all of the time. Do you think leaving the skins on would be good for baking or not? I don't want it to alter the texture in any way.

  12. So I'm in the middle of making a big batch...and have a few questions:
    how high should the stove heat be
    and do some apples make it less juicy than what you show? Mine is turning our pretty chunky.
    I am adding 2 vanilla beans - I know how much you like vanilla!

  13. Wow, this sounds so good. I wish I lived close to you so I could do my first canning with you. I've always wanted to do this. I freeze things and many things work better canned. I always thought you needed a lot of special equipment. After reading this I think I can do it. I'm going to give it a try. Thanks!

  14. Mrs. Ed - Thanks! :)

    Kim - Thanks, mmmm, apple-pear sauce sounds delicious!

    Anne - Happy Canning! :)

    Amy - I actually couldn't remember why I stopped blending the skins up with it but this is why. I did find that the consistency of the applesauce w/skins was not as ideal for baking as it was w/o skins. :)

    cook4seasons - I do LOVE vanilla Karen! ....I cook my sauce at a gentle simmer, around medium to medium-low heat for my stove. I am sure all apple varieties will yield different results as far as texture. Hope this helps. :)

    thewholegang - I hope you give this a try Diane, it sure is fun. It is helpful to have someone teach you in person the canning process. My mom taught me how to do it. :)

  15. I have an extra special reason for canning applesauce. New grandchild on the way. If I can the applesauce now, when the baby starts eating solid foods next fall, I'll have homemade baby applesauce!


  16. Ellen - Congrats on the new grandchild! How exciting. When my children were just starting solids I made fresh baby applesauce from McIntosh apples. I would core, peel, and dice the apples then simmer them in a little water until very soft. To make it even smoother I pureed the sauce in a blender. It was apple season though when each of my kids started solids. :)

  17. Thank you Ali for the step-by-step recipe! It finally got me try it out! I made my first apple-plum sauce today! It's delicious!

  18. Thanks for the help on making and canning with what you have in the kitchen.

  19. Hi thanks for the great post...just one suggestion...don't strain out the skins! That's where a lot of the nutrients are...and if the apples are organic you don't have to worry about eating the skins. I vitamix the apples so you don't even notice the skins! Thanks for the tip about the pasta insert...brilliant! :-)


Join the Conversation!

I'd love to hear your feedback with my recipes. If you make any changes or substitutions then please share what you did so others can learn.

If you have a question about a recipe, please leave it here. I will do my best to answer it when I have time.

Comment moderation is in place. Your comment will be only be visible here once I publish it.

Thanks and Happy Cooking! ~Ali :)