Canning Applesauce {A Step-By-Step Guide)

by Emily from Frugal Living NW on October 21, 2011

Canning Applesauce

How to Can Applesauce

A couple of days ago, my sister and I loaded the kids in the car for our first of several fall trips over the mountain to Kiyokawa Family Orchards in Parkdale, Oregon on a mission to get apples to pick apples and can applesauce. There are tons of great apple orchards between Parkdale and Hood River. Check out the Fruit Loop map for more.

Those of you hard-core frugalistas might be whipping out your mental calculators and thinking, “What? Drive 136 miles round trip for apples!? What a waste of resources!” I beg to differ. In one afternoon, I spent time with my sister, took tons of fun photographs, watched my kids play in a fort, talked to my daughter about the fact that apples grow on trees (!), and enjoyed a beautiful drive through some of the best fall scenery Oregon has to offer. Oh, and we also picked up some fruit.

Try doing all that next time you are in WinCo. But seriously, I firmly believe that building memories with my children while accomplishing a task is one of the best uses of time and money during this fleeting season of life.


Last year I talked about freezing homemade applesauce. So many of you commented that I should can it. I had to try it, and you were right. It really is a simple process of washing, chopping, cooking, filling, and processing. I’ll walk you through the steps below.

If you’d rather stick with freezing your own applesauce, go for it! You still gain all the benefits while just using a different method for storing and opening the final product.

sterilize canning jars

As with all canning, the first step is to sterilize your jars. I just run mine through the dishwasher. If you don’t have a dishwasher, you can also hand wash your jars, fill them with water, submerge in a canner of water and simmer them for 10 minutes.

quartered apples for applesauce

Next step, wash and quarter your apples. You can really use any combination of cooking apple you want. The sweeter the apple, the less sugar (if any) you will need to add. The softer the apple, the faster it will cook. For this batch, I used a combination of Golden Delicious, Jonagold, and Tsugaru. You can even add pears to the mix for added flavor and sweetness.

I paid 69¢ per pound for my apples this year. You could probably swing a better deal if you look for the ugly ones. I think Kiyokawa sells them as “juice apples.” According to Ball, it should take around 2.5-3.5 pounds of apples per quart. I found that to be pretty conservative; figure on closer to 3-4 pounds per quart (a canner holds seven quarts).

If you have a food mill/strainer, you don’t need to peel or core your apples. You can purchase a decent model on Amazon for around $60. If you are doing a big batch of applesauce, this is a good thing.

If you don’t have one of those beautiful inventions, then you’ll need to peel and core your apples. An Apple Peeler/Corer/Slicer (Amazon) is a great, inexpensive tool for this.

canning applesauce

Place your apples in a pot with about 1 inch of water in the bottom to prevent scorching. Obviously, the more water you use, the thinner your applesauce will be. I pour some of the liquid off as the apples start to cook down and release juice so that my applesauce isn’t super runny.

It’s better to use a couple wide pots than one deep stockpot so the apples can be stirred easily and cooked evenly.

canning applesauce

Simmer on medium heat, stirring often, until the apples have cooked down to a soft consistency (time will vary according to which apple variety you use). Your house will fill with a heavenly, homey aroma.

canning jars

Once your jars are sanitized you want to keep them warm. If you time it right or if your dishwasher has a setting for it, you can take them piping hot from the dishwasher. If not, set your oven to a low temperature (180ish), place the jars on a tray, and keep them warm until you are ready to fill them.

boil canning jar lids and rings

Sanitize and prepare your lids and rings by simmering them in a small saucepan for 10 minutes.

How to can applesauce

Once your apple mixture is soft, place it in a food mill/strainer or food processor/blender to achieve the desired consistency. If you like a thicker, chunkier applesauce, skip this step (assuming you cored & peeled your apples).

For those of you who want to freeze your applesauce, you are almost finished! Add sugar (optional), place it in bags or containers, pop them in your freezer, and put your feet up.

homemade applesauce

Return the smooth applesauce to a large pot and heat it back to a simmer. The applesauce does not require any additional cooking; you just want to keep it hot. I added my applesauce to this pot as I pureed it.

If desired, you can stir in some sugar at this point. I didn’t add any sugar to my sauce, and it is still sweet and flavorful. I am planning to use it both for eating and as an oil substitute in baking. If you want to get fancy, you could also add spices like ginger or cinnamon.

canning jars of applesauce

Working quickly and carefully, ladle the hot applesauce into the hot jars. Using a wide-mouth funnel makes the job much easier. And remember, putting a hot substance into a cold jar is bad news. Avoid a big headache and a bigger mess by keeping everything nice and hot.

Leave 1/2 inch headspace at the top of each jar (about the bottom of the jar threads).

remove air bubbles in canning jars

Using a nonmetallic utensil, slide it along the inside of each jar to release any trapped air bubbles.

Wipe each jar rim with a clean towel.

homemade canned applesauce

Place the sterilized lids on the jar mouth and screw the rings on finger tight.

canning applesauce in a water bath canner

Place the hot, filled jars into a canner partially filled with warm water. Make sure the jars are covered with about 1 inch of water. Cover the canner with the lid and bring the water to a boil.

According to Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, process both pints and quarts in a simmering water bath for 20 minutes.

applesauce with a water bath canner

When the timer rings, remove the jars using a jar lifter. The jar lids will suck in as they cool and seal. Check jar lids and move any that don’t seal to the refrigerator to be eaten soon.

Cool the jars completely before removing the rings and storing them in a cool, dark place.

canned applesauce

Enjoy your jars of home canned fall goodness for months to come!

As with any new homemaking adventure, do your research first. Here are some good resources where you can find additional information/recipes:

apple orchard

Leave a comment! What do you plan to do with those incredible Northwest apples this year?

This post may contain affiliate links. See the disclosure policy for more information.

{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

Eunice September 2, 2014 at 10:55 pm

I live in the Georgia. We have a lot of orchards in our area. We are lucky enough to live close to a cannery that is part of the school system and is operated by the FFA. All you need to bring is your jars and whatever you are canning. You do all the prep work and they handle the processing. We canned over fifty quarts of Apple sauce and apple butter in one afternoon. So much easier to heat up their kitchen and use their equipment. They have machines that peel and core or you can just quarter the apples and run them through a machine that takes out the seeds and peeling. This summer we have made jelly, salsa, soup, green beans, peas and okra.


Emily from Frugal Living NW September 3, 2014 at 9:43 pm

Wow, that is a amazing! I’ve never heard of anything like that before; thanks for sharing! Oh, and it took me all day to can 21 quarts of applesauce…


Kelley November 12, 2013 at 5:03 pm

Found your recipe on Pintrest this Fall. Made 13 quarts today and it was super easy and good! Loved the fact that it did not have any sugar or anything else in it. Thanks!


Sarah October 28, 2013 at 10:54 am

No need to add lemon juice to aid in preservation? I have only canned tomatoes so I wasn’t sure and saw that option on some peoples blogs. Thanks!


Emily from Frugal Living NW November 1, 2013 at 8:20 pm

Hi, Sarah! There is no need to add lemon juice to canned applesauce. The only reason I can think for people adding lemon juice to applesauce is to prevent discoloration.


Kate October 17, 2013 at 7:24 am

Grateful to you for the website because this is the first time I am canning applesauce…..always froze it before. I peel,core and place my apples in a 18 qt Nesco with 1 cup of apple cider, white sugar and cook real slow…when apples get mushy then I beat with hand mixer to make the applesauce smooth…..I will place in jars and do in water bath to finish the sauce.
PS. I always buy seconds ..much cheaper


Alan November 19, 2012 at 4:38 pm

I’ve been canning applesauce for years. This year I purchased seventy pounds of ready-picked apples with blemishes for fifty cents a pound. I removed the blemishes, cut then into quarters (smaller if they are extra large apples) and cooked them in a pressure cooker (five minutes at fifteen pounds). Then I strained them through a Foley Food Mill. Nice thing about doing it this way is you don’t have to peel or pit the apples. As a side note, my mother used a Foley Food Mill, when I was a child, to make baby food for my younger brother. It’s much cheaper than buying baby food in jars. Just make it as you need it – carrots, green beans, squash, peas, spinach, etc. I sterilize the jars in my dishwasher (take them out after they are washed but not dried) and put them in a pressure canner. The canner should have a quart of water in it. Keep a low flame under it with the lid on, but not closed. Sterilize the lids and rings as Emily said, and after the jars are filled with applesauce, can at five pounds for five minutes. I found that you have to reduce the pressure very slowly or the applesauce will ooze out of the jars and break the seal. You can use the extra applesauce to make apple butter. 1 cup of applesauce, 1/2 cup brown sugar, one tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp cloves, 1/4 tsp allspice. Put ingredients in a heat proof bowl in a cold oven, and bring temperature up to 300 degrees. As it boils down, add additional applesauce and bake until thick. Makes great gifts for almost any occasion.


carole November 17, 2012 at 2:26 pm

How long will an opened jar “keep” in a fridge ?


Kate November 17, 2012 at 11:02 pm

I keep mine about a week and then dump.


Debbie October 22, 2011 at 5:44 pm

I have never canned before but would love to do it. Is there a good place to get the canning supplies without spending a fortune? I do have an immersion blender (which I love) to make the sauce chunky or smooth but no other supplies.


Angela October 22, 2011 at 9:09 pm

Check craigslist for used jars and equipment. WinCo, BiMart and Walmart are also good options.


Beth Johnson November 8, 2012 at 11:41 pm

If you decide to look for used jars, be sure the rims have no chips, or they won’t seal. Mayo jars are NOT canning jars! I’ve found that by the time you buy the lids (and rings), you might as well just buy new. A case of new jars comes with new lids and rings. The rings are reusable (unless dented or rusty) but the flat lids are not. Happy canning!


MelissaB October 22, 2011 at 12:42 pm

We just went to Parkdale this past week (ah, the weather was so gorgeous!) and my family of six picked 200 lbs of apples at Mt. View Orchards. They are 50cent/lb there when you pick them yourself and the lady who owns the place is super sweet. This was our second year going. Applesauce is cooking in all three of my crockpots right now, I don’t use a food mill and just cook until the apples break down because I like chunky applesauce. Last year I froze it, but this year I’m going to try canning it, I’ve never canned before, but it looks super easy.


Brooke October 21, 2011 at 9:53 pm

I’ve made applesauce and pearsauce the past several years. For those of you who don’t have a food mill you can use one of those cool apple corer (less than $10 at Walmart) that takes out the core and cuts it into 8 slices. After coring it just put it into the pot. Once they are soft I use a food processor to puree them. I like mine a little chunkier but once the apples are soft and pureed you won’t even be able to tell that the peel is still on. I don’t have a food mill so this has always worked well for me. If you want to be able to preserve as much of the apple as possible you could quarter and just cut out the core.


Cindy October 21, 2011 at 8:55 pm

I have this and I love it!!!

You can buy them at Bi-Mart and you can buy different inserts for preparing different kinds of fruits & vegetables. It is seriously the easiest thing ever!!!! All the chewed up cores & stems go out one side (I call it apple poop) and beautiful sauce slides smoothly into the bowl.

It has a berry insert that’s great for making berry puree. My genius dad came up with the idea of milling the blackberries and then freezing the puree in ice trays. Just put the cubes in freezer bags or containes and have awesome seed free puree for smoothies, etc.!!!


Marsha October 21, 2011 at 4:25 pm

I cook my apples in the crock pot – no need to add any liquid. And love my folly food mill!! Makes the job so easy.


Rose October 21, 2011 at 7:50 pm

is the folly food mill better or the same as the kitchen aid. I have the strainer for the kitchen aid mixer and it works well.


Linda October 21, 2011 at 2:12 pm

Probably not the time of year to look, because it’s beenprime canning time, but I found a Foley Food Mill at a thrift store for a few dollars several years back. It wasn’t the only one either, there were several others. I often see them, so if you are in the need/want for one that is a place to look for a great deal!


charolyn October 21, 2011 at 1:43 pm

I always add pears to my applesauce-add them first & squish them down (I use a potato masher-also that’s all I use to mash it at the end-saves a step & washing another item & is mashed plenty for me).
This adds plenty of liquid so you don’t need to add water-also adds sweetness, so I never add sugar. I like to mix it with a tart apple, like gravenstein.


Nichole October 21, 2011 at 1:15 pm

Thanks for this post! I grew up in Parkdale and am so happy seeing people support the local farmers!


Joyce October 21, 2011 at 12:44 pm

I have found applesauce is even easier to make by cooking the apples in the oven. I put mine in a large roaster with a lid. It doesn’t take much time and they won’t scorch. Just a side note…I use a bit of brown sugar and cinnamon. Yum! :-)


Emily October 21, 2011 at 1:39 pm

That’s a good point. A crockpot would work, too!


wynter October 21, 2011 at 12:11 pm

My moms group and I always have ‘saucing parties each fall where the kids play, eat lunch and we chop, cook and mill 100s of pounds of apples for hours. It is so fun and delicious! Last year, I had a ton of extra pears and plums and we did pear, apple plum sauce and it was amazing@a


Annie October 21, 2011 at 12:08 pm

Hey – this is awesome -I actually canned about 30 pounds of apples into sauce not too long ago – I got a folly food mill at McClendens (sorry I’m up north in seattle area -not sure if they are down there) but anywhere you can get one – it was awesome. (it replaces the strainer and morter)

I have jars and jars and its an awesome gift for just about anything – new baby? – house full of sick kids? – new house? – christmas? :)

Love it!


Emily G. October 21, 2011 at 11:16 am

I picked 100 lbs of apples 2 weeks ago and need to get going on making applesauce, but I’ve been dragging my feet. This helps motivate me! Thanks!


Stacey October 21, 2011 at 11:07 am

HAHA…Thanks for the info Melissa! Makes total sense too! DOH! HAHA!


Melissa October 21, 2011 at 11:00 am

I now realize that Stacey was asking WHY the jars should be stored w/o rings. Only because they can sometimes get rusty & stuck to the point of not coming off. I always put a ring on the jar before I give it as a gift just because it makes the jar look prettier.


Melissa October 21, 2011 at 10:53 am

I’ve enjoyed your canning posts very much. I took the Master Food Preservers course through the WSU extension some years ago and have been canning ever since. One thing they taught us in class is that a canning jar should never go into the oven because of the risk of breakage. I keep my jars in a sink full of hot water until I fill them with the simmering applesauce.
Also, when the hot jars come out of the canner, it’s a good idea to put them on a dish towel instead of directly on the counter top to reduce the risk of breakage from the temperature difference.
Jars should be stored in a cool dark place with the rings off. There’s nothing like opening up a jar of wonderful fruity goodness in the middle of winter!


Jennifer Talkington October 21, 2011 at 10:45 am

Wow! Thanks so much for the step by step picture guide. I have never canned anything in my LIFE, but this looks incredibly easy, and its almost fool-proof because of the pictures. THANKS! Im sure my kids would LOVE the homemade applesauce, and I will love not adding any sugar :) You are a lifesaver! Thanks again!


Stacey October 21, 2011 at 10:39 am

This is GREAT! I made some 2 wknds ago and was so proud of myself! One question though…why is it recommended that the rings be removed before storing?

Thanks for taking the time to break it all down for us!



joyce October 21, 2011 at 3:50 pm

You remove the rings before storing for two reasons:

1. You want to be able to use them for your next canning project instead of owning as many rings as you do jars and

2. IF the food goes bad for whatever reason you want the expanding food and gases to escape by breaking the seal and oozing not by exploding. The pressure in the jar will build to the point of exploding the jar if the ring is left on. That is a terrible mess to clean up!

Have fun!


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