Whether you’ve bought or picked too many apples — or are just looking to get creative in the kitchen — learning how to can applesauce is a great way to prepare, store, and enjoy your apples.
If you don’t have an apple tree or aren’t staring at apples you need to use up, we’ll tell you why you should add homemade applesauce to your prepping storage. From why you should learn how to can applesauce to how to do it in the best way, we’ve got you covered.
Here’s all you need to know to can applesauce like a pro.
Why Can Your Own Applesauce?
Applesauce is a delicious treat, but did you know it’s healthy for you, too?
Applesauce aids in digestion; it is packed with vitamin C and other nutrients and vitamins; it is full of fiber; and finally, it has no fat. When you can make your own applesauce, you always end up with a healthier option that boosts these benefits.
Here’s how learning to can applesauce is the better option:
You Control the Ingredients
Arguably one of the most significant benefits of learning how to can applesauce is that you control the ingredients.
Applesauce is one of the best things to can because the natural acids and sugars act as a preservative. You don’t have to add anything unnatural to keep it for the long haul. Plus, when you make your own applesauce, you control how much sugar and what ingredients are involved.
While canning applesauce means it stores well over time, making applesauce from in-season, never-frozen apples results in fresher applesauce. Fresher applesauce tastes better and is better for your health, too.
Packaging homemade applesauce produces less waste and uses less energy than commercial production methods. It’s another way for you to reduce your footprint and be more environmentally friendly.
It’s Delicious and Easy
Learning how to can applesauce is healthy, fresher, and better for the environment; and the best part is, with the tips we will cover in the next sections, it’s easy, too.
Your Home Will Smell Amazing
On top of all the other perks we mentioned, when you make your own applesauce your home will be filled with the aroma. The sweet smell of fresh apples and other ingredients, like cinnamon, is really pleasant.
A Great Solution for Leftover Apples
Learning how to can applesauce is also super useful if you have more apples than you know what to do with. Whether there was a bulk deal you couldn’t pass up, or you have apple trees, too many apples has a solution.
Troubleshooting Tips for Canning Applesauce
When done the right way, canning applesauce is a smooth and easy process. But, some problems can arise, especially when you’re new to learning how to can applesauce.
Here are some of the main issues and how to solve them:
You know how when you leave an apple slice or a partially eaten apple out exposed to oxygen, it turns brown? This same thing can happen to the top layer of a jar of applesauce.
This problem occurs because the applesauce hasn’t been heated enough to stop the enzymatic reactions that cause oxidation. Or, an acid has not been added.
The obvious solution is to ensure that you adequately heat your applesauce while you make it. However, another solution is adding some ascorbic acid to your recipe. This is the solution we recommend, it improves flavor too.
Luckily, this doesn’t have to be unnatural, and a tablespoon per quart of lemon juice can do the trick.
Putting cooked apples through a sieve, food processor, or blender results in more air in the mixture. If this air isn’t removed, it can lead to siphoning, which is when applesauce expands and overflows from your jar.
Siphoning can lead to a huge mess, loss of product, and keeps your jars from sealing properly.
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To avoid this, after you make your apple mixture bring it to a boil on the stove and keep it at a gentle boil as you fill your jars. You can also use a knife or bubble popper to remove excess air bubbles from your applesauce before securing the lid.
Whenever you’re working with fresh fruit, the potential for spoilage and mold exists. To minimize this problem, ensure that you always thoroughly wash your apples before cooking and keep your kitchen clean.
Mold also exists in the air and can settle on your applesauce when it’s in the jar before the lid is applied. To avoid this issue, process your applesauce in a boiling water bath.
How to Can Applesauce
Below are the steps to canning applesauce.
1. Wash and Prepare Your Apples
Cleanliness is always important in cooking, but it’s especially important when you’re preserving food, like when you learn how to can applesauce. So your first step in canning applesauce should be to wash your apples.
Both fresh from the tree, and storebought apples need to be washed. If you are making whole-apple applesauce from storebought apples you will need to remove the wax from them.
Once your apples are clean, prepare them based on the method you will use to process them.
If you will mash by hand, then it’s best to peel, core, and dice up your apples before cooking them. If you use a blender, then you don’t have to worry about peeling and can core your apples and dice them up.
With a food mill, you don’t have to peel, core, or dice, you can simply cook your apples whole or chopped in half. Leaving the peels on can change the flavor of your applesauce, though, so experiment with a small batch first.
2. Cook Your Apples
Add an inch or two of water to your pot (this isn’t an exact science; you just want enough water to keep your apples from burning and sticking to the pot), then add your apples and bring them to a simmer.
Stir occasionally to prevent the apples on the bottom from burning and cook for about 10 to 20 minutes or until all apples are soft.
3. Process Your Apples
Once your apples are nice and soft, it’s time to process them. Scoop your apples out of the pot and proceed with your processing method of choice.
You can process the applesauce by mashing your cooked apples with a potato masher or even the back of a spoon. Alternatively, you can use a blender to create a smooth apple mixture.
These two options are usually the most convenient as most people already have the tools at home. The last option is using a food mill, which is the easiest and fastest option; but if you don’t have one, it’s not a requirement.
Once you’re done processing and have warm applesauce, if you want to add lemon juice, add about one tablespoon per quart.
If you don’t want plain applesauce, this is also when you want to mix in your sugar or spices like cinnamon and simmer your sauce.
4. Sterilize Your Jars
You can clean your jars via water sterilization where you wash the jars with water and soap and then boil them in a pot of water for about 10 minutes. You can also use a sterilization wash cycle on your dishwasher. If you’re using mason jars, make sure to also sterilize the lids and discs by washing and boiling for about 5 minutes.
5. Fill Your Jars and Lid
Once your jars are sterilized, fill them with your applesauce, which is best done when both your jars and applesauce are warm. Either use a sterile funnel or ladle to fill your jars. Remember to keep about half an inch of space between your apple sauce and the lid and remove any bubbles. Before applying the lids, wipe the tops and edges of the jar of any apple residue.
6. Process Your Jars
Once lids are securely tightened, you can process your jars. To do this with things you already have at home, make a hot water bath. Put your jars at the bottom of a large pot in a way that allows for water to freely move around each jar by using a canning rack, small cooling rack, or even zip tying the jars together. You just need to ensure water can move around the jars and the jars are on the bottom of the pot.
Then add water until all the jars are covered by at least an inch or two of water, put the lid on the pot, and bring the water to a boil. If you’re using pint jars or smaller, let the water boil for around 15 minutes. If you’re using quart jars or larger, let the water boil for around 20 minutes.
Once the time is up, remove the pot from the heat and let the jars sit for about 5 minutes.
After about five minutes, carefully remove the jars from your pot with tongs and place them on a dishtowel for cooling. Let your jars cool for 24 hours and then check your lids to ensure a proper seal.
You can do this by pressing on the lids, and if you can’t push down on the center then everything is sealed correctly. If there’s a pop when you push down, then your jar has not sealed properly.
8. Check Your Seal and Store
You can also tap your lid with a metal spoon; an adequately sealed jar will make a high pitched noise, while a poorly sealed one will produce a dull sound. You can also check the lid for the right shape. If the jar is sealed, the safety area in the center will be pulled down, creating a concave shape. If they are sealed properly, then you can store your jars for up to a year. Should you have sealing issues, then you need to reprocess them to store them for any amount of time.
Tying it All Together
Applesauce has so many uses and benefits, and they’re all better when you make your own. Learning how to can applesauce doesn’t have to be a challenge. With the tips in this article it’s sure to be a fun and easy process.
You’ll love knowing that you have fresh, pure applesauce on the shelf to go with your prepping stores.