Every year just as growing season comes to an end, I make at least 10 quarts of applesauce and can it. It takes a lot of energy to make 2½ gallons of applesauce, and truthfully, I don’t always feel joy in my heart as I go through the process. However, the taste and flavor of homemade applesauce overshadows the toil and labor of the processing. Store-bought simply cannot compare to the homemade product. Besides, the children rave about it, request it, nay, demand it, and how can you say “no” to that sort of praise especially over such a healthy, wholesome food.
To lighten the load and put the joy back into canning, I usually enlist the help of a friend or two and dedicate an afternoon. I also process smaller portions here and there throughout November and December, and at these times, I use the help of the kids.
In addition to helping hands, the right tool for the job can make all the difference. Get an apple peeler/corer gadget. It makes peeling and coring manageable; some would even say—particularly the kids—fun! I bought mine at a big box store 5 years ago for $13.00 and it still works like a charm.
My recipe consists of one ingredient—apples. Any sort of apple will do, even the less flavorful varieties like red delicious. Any sort of condition will suffice. Why transform crunchy, pristine beauties into mush when so many sweet and homely ones are looking for a place to shine. I generally buy seconds (apples with flaws sold at a discount) from my farmer, and cut away any bad parts.
Some may want to add spices like cinnamon or nutmeg. I am a bit of a purest about my applesauce preferring to enjoy the unsullied flavor of caramelized apples. Not everyone shares my opinion; I respect that. Add spices if you wish. It will not impact the safety of the canned product.
Useful Weights and Measures
- 4 pounds of apples makes 1 quart of applesauce
- 1 peck of apples is about 12.5 pounds
- ½ bushel of apples is about 25 pounds
- 1 bushel of apples is about 50 pounds
Homemade Apple Sauce
- Gather and prepare your jars and canning equipment. See How to Can Pickles and Fruits if you need a canning tutorial
- Begin peeling and coring your apples. After peeling and coring a few, toss them into a large, heavy-bottomed stock pot or Dutch oven with a tight fitting lid.
- Cook the apples on a medium-low heat with the lid on.
- Continue peeling, coring and tossing apples into the pot as you go.
- With a masher, mix and crush the cooking apples every 3 – 5 minutes. Be certain to return the lid to the pot after each time you add more apples.
- If the apples seem to be cooking too slowly, increase the heat a little at a time. If they begin scorching add a bit of water and reduce the heat. The goal is to cook them slowly in their own juices without added water. This makes for a rich flavorful applesauce. Time and heat should soften them with minimal mashing.
- After the last apple is added cook at least 10 more minutes.
- Once the desired golden color is reached and the apples are thoroughly cooked, you may smooth out the texture further with an emersion blender.
- Keep the sauce simmering as you add it to canning jars. Leave ½ inch head space and process both pints and quarts for 20 minutes in a boiling water canner.
- Once processed and cooled completely, remove screw bands and wipe the jars thoroughly. (The applesauce leaches out during canning and creates a sticky mess on the outside of the jar.) Label and date.