Canning Applesauce

When we were children, we would go to Connecticut to visit my mother’s parents. Granddaddy Foster was a farmer in his bones and his retirement years were spent perfecting the most beautiful little farm in Ridgefield. On his acre or so of land he grew tons of vegetables and flowers. My very favorite area was a little mini orchard full of fruit trees — mostly apple as I recall.

My grandparents were great “putter-uppers.” They canned all manner of fruits and vegetables, most notably Bread and Butter Pickles and Pink Applesauce. Eating that applesauce was one of the highlights of my visits with them. The pink color came from cooking the apples with the skin on, which is actually the best way to get all of the nutrients from the fruit.

I’m sharing my grandmother’s delicious recipe. It really isn’t all that different from other applesauce recipes that I’ve seen, but to me it’s special because of the memories it brings back.

The only thing I’ve changed is substituting honey for sugar. If your apples are really sweet, you might not even need the honey. I prefer to use organic Macintosh apples, but they are really hard to find and a bit pricey, so I’ve been substituting Fujis which are really good too. You can use any naturally sweet apple. Try combining different types of apples to create your own special mix.

Another tip is to remember that the apples don’t have to be perfect. You can often get a good deal on a bulk buy of less-than-perfect apples at the farmers market if you ask (nicely, of course).

Grandmother Foster’s Pink Applesauce

  • 16 cups of apples, cored and cut into wedges, peels on
  • 1 cup of water (start out with this, you can add more towards the end if necessary)
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons honey, or to taste

Sterilize your jars, bring your canning pot to a boil and put your lids in a small pot to simmer. Place the apples, lemon juice and water in a large stock pot. Bring to a boil and cook over medium heat until the apples are soft.

When apple are nearly done, add the spices and the honey. Cook for a few minutes more.  If you want smooth applesauce and are using a food mill the skins will be left behind in the mill. For immersion blenders or if you want a chunky applesauce, remove the skins while the apples are cooking. Blend for a smooth sauce, or smash the cooked apples with a wooden spoon or potato masher for a chunkier sauce.

After putting the apples through the mill or blending, return the applesauce to a boil and ladle into your prepared jars, leaving 1/2″ headspace. Remove air bubbles, wipe rims completely clean and put on the lids.

Put jars into the hot water bath and process for 15 or 20 minutes — start timing when the water returns to a boil. If you’re at an altitude higher than 1,000 feet above sea level, process 2 extra minutes for each 1,000 feet of altitude.

Remove from hot water bath and listen for the lovely “ping” of the lids as the jars cool and seal themselves.

Leave the jars to cool for 24 hours. Wipe them to remove any sticky traces, remove the rings, and check the seal. Then label the jars and store them in a cool, dark place for up to one year.

6 thoughts on “Canning Applesauce

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  1. Thanks for this recipe. I’m just slightly confused about the skins – can they stay in? Last year I made applesauce to freeze, and I cooked it with skins on and I think all I did was mash it (no mill or anything) and I left the skins in. Do you think that process is ok for canning? I’ve been looking around and all the recipes for canning say to peel, which I don’t want to do, but I’m also nervous about messing with canning recipes. Hmmm…I think you are saying either put it through a mill or take the skins out. Any thoughts?

    1. I’m not sure, Catherine. I think leaving the skins in would be ok, but I’m also nervous about it. I’ll do some asking around and get you an answer in the next day or two.

    2. Catherine, I got an answer from our local (Orange County, CA) Master Food Preserver group. They said, “As long as the tree has not been sprayed with anything that might be harmful and assuming you check for PH and follow the recommended canning methods, the peel should make no difference, except for consistency.”

      I also found this in a canning forum: “…The peels are the primary source of bacteria, molds and other contaminants. Studies show that peeling fruits and vegetables prior to canning and processing them reduces the bacterial count in the finished jars after processing by as much as 60%. With low acid foods, peeling can be vital. With high acid foods like applesauce it is less so but why can bacteria and molds in with your food?”

      I couldn’t find the studies this person referred to but in light of this comment, I would want be sure not to use fallen apples for applesauce that includes the peel, just apples picked from the tree. And I would want to be sure that I washed the apples REALLY well. Don’t use soap, just scrub really well under running water (not in a sink full of standing water which can spread bacteria).

      Here’s a link to University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources website. This site has lots of great, free publications that you can download including, Apples: Safe Methods to Store, Preserve, and Enjoy.

      Hope this helps!

    3. Every year I can applesauce. I leave the skins on, and I’m a texture freak, so if it was at all weird I wouldn’t be able to do it.. I’ve even heard the skins are actually the most nutritious part of the apple. Once the apples are completely cooked, I just blend them in my food processor – this makes the skins sooo small you don’t even notice them. It works great for canning – no problem.

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