Sugar-free, pure applesauce. Life doesn’t get much better.
Home canned applesauce also has another unexpected advantage. You can can it in various sizes jars, so you open just the right size for the need at the time. The 1/2 cup (125 ml / 4 oz) and 1 cup (1/4 litre / 1/2 US pint / 8 oz) size jars are particularly useful, often containing the exact amount that a recipe is calling for. No more partially-used jars of applesauce lingering in the fridge till they go mouldy!
Feel free to mix apple varieties for a wonderfully complex taste.
Canning applesauce is one of those rare procedures where you have the choice of either water bathing, steam canning, or pressure canning. The pressure canning would not necessarily be safer: it’s likely just an equivalent to the water bathing.
You might also be interested in the Apple Ketchup recipe, which is sort of like a spiced, sweet and sour tangy applesauce.
The end colour of your applesauce will depend on the mixture of apples you used.
Quantities of apples needed
Numbers are approximate guidelines.
On average, as a very rough guideline, expect to need about 1 1/4 kg (3 lbs) of apples per 1 litre (US quart) jar of canned applesauce.
- 9 1/2 kg (21 lbs) of apples = 7 litres (US quarts) canned applesauce
- 6 kg (13 1/2 lbs ) of apples = 9 x 1/2 litres (US pints) canned applesauce
- 1 US bushel apples = 22 kg (48 lbs) = 14 to 19 litres (US quarts) canned applesauce
Jar size choices: Half-litre (1 US pint) OR 1 litre (1 US quart) OR smaller
Processing method: Water bath OR steam canning OR pressure canning
Headspace: 2 cm (1/2 inch)
Processing pressure: Only applies if pressure canning. 5 lbs (35 kPa) weighted gauge, 6 lbs (42 kpa) dial gauge (adjust pressure for your altitude when over 300 metres / 1000 feet)
Processing time: Varies by method and jar size, see recipe.
Canning apple sauce
Prepare a very large pot or bowl with acidulated water in it (by adding lemon juice or ascorbic acid.)
Wash, peel, core, seed and slice the apples.
As you work, work in such a way that peeled apple never rests outside the water, to prevent discolouration.
Put drained apple slices in a large pot.
For every 1.25 kg (3 lbs / 20 to 30 medium apples / 12 cups prepped) in the pot, add about 125 ml (1/2 cup) water.
Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, and then reduce to a good simmer for 5 minute to 20 to 30 minutes until all the apple is tender (how long will depend on the apple variety) and starting to break down.
Press through a food mill or sieve or put through a blender or food processor, OR skip this step if you want a chunky sauce.
Put sauce back in pot. If desired, sweeten it with up to 2 tablespoons sugar per litre / quart of sauce you estimate you have.
Bring back to a boil.
Pack hot applesauce into half-litre (US pint) jars or 1 litre (US quart) jars (OR SMALLER.)
If desired, add 1/2 tablespoon bottled lemon juice per half-litre/ US pint, one tablespoon to the litre / quart jars.
Leave 2 cm (1/2 inch) headspace.
Debubble, adjust headspace.
Wipe jar rims.
Put lids on.
Process in a water bath or steam canner or pressure canner.
Water bath / steam canner: half-litre (US pint) size jars for 15 minutes and litres / quarts for 20 minutes; increase time as needed for your altitude.
Pressure canner: half-litre (US pint) size jars for 8 minutes and litres / quarts for 10 minutes at 5 lbs (35 kPa) weighted gauge, 6 lbs (42 kpa) dial gauge (adjust pressure for your altitude when over 300 metres / 1000 feet)
(Note: if you do use smaller size jars, use processing directions for half-litre (pint) jars.
Waterbath / Steam canning processing times
|Required processing time in minutes per altitude|
|Jar Size|| 0 - 300 m /|
0 - 1,000 ft
|301 - 900 m /|
1,001 - 3,000 ft
|901 - 1,800 m /|
3,001 - 6,000 ft
|Above 1,800 m /
|15 min||20 min||20 min||25 min|
|1 litre |
|20 min||25 min||30 min||35 min|
Pressure canning processing times
Processing guidelines below are for weighted-gauge pressure canners. See also if applicable: Dial-gauge pressures. When pressure canning, be careful to come up to pressure slowly and let pressure reduce naturally at the end: applesauce can be prone to siphoning out of jars under sudden pressure changes.
|Jar Size||Time||0 to 300 m (0 - 1000 feet) pressure||Above 300 m (1000 ft) pressure|
|1/2 litre (1 US pint)||8 mins||5 lbs||10 lbs|
|1 litre (1 US quart)||10 mins||5 lbs||10 lbs|
How to water bath process.
How to steam can.
When water-bath canning or steam canning, you must adjust the processing time for your altitude.
How to pressure can.
When pressure canning, you must adjust the pressure for your altitude.
More information about Sugar and Salt-Free Canning in general.
- If you go the pressure canning route, don’t let the pressure go over, or your jars will really vent on you and you may have widespread seal failure.
- If you wish to add some ground spices such as cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, etc, the Ball Blue Book (37th edition, page 18) advises that you do so in the final 5 minutes of cooking. Try 1/4 teaspoon at a time, and taste after each addition. But don’t forget: it’s also advantageous to have a few jars of plain applesauce for recipes, etc.
- For a chunky apple sauce, don’t purée it. Or for a semi-chunky, purée only half it.
- The 1/2 cup (125 ml / 4 oz) jars are very handy sizes of applesauce to have on hand. They’re often just the right amount to go with a meal of pork, etc, for a few people, or, just the right amount for what a recipe is calling for. And they are great for single friends or family members living on their own. However, be prepared to experience a few more failures to seal with that size, as the heat is a lot for its size and the sauce can boil over the rim and prevent a seal, necessitating reprocessing if you get many failures. These jars must be processed for the next tested time up, which is that for half-litres / pints at 15 minutes. For the 1/2 cup (125 ml / 4 oz) jars, increase the headspace a tidge so that the sauce doesn’t boil up and over the rim, preventing seals.
- If you sweeten the applesauce, bear in mind that hot applesauce tastes tarter than cold sauce, so don’t have a heavy hand with your sweetener or you may regret it the rest of the year every time you open a jar.
- You can reduce the sugar, or use the same volume amount of granulated Splenda®, or use 1/4 teaspoon of liquid stevia per litre / quart. For stevia, we’d recommend Better Stevia liquid stevia.
- It is very common for applesauce to develop bubbles in the jar after processing, no matter how well you debubbled the jars. Don’t panic, it isn’t you: it can depend on the variety of apple used, and it won’t affect taste or quality.
Add lemon juice or not to home-canned apple sauce
The most recent edition (2015) of the USDA Complete Guide does not require lemon juice in applesauce.  United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Complete guide to home canning. Agriculture information bulletin No. 539. 2015. Page 2-7.
The Ball / Bernardin Complete Book (2015) does, and explains that it’s for reasons of safety. They want a tablespoon per litre / quart jar:
Adding sugar to applesauce is optional…. However, lemon juice is not an optional addition. Lemon juice is added to help preserve the apples’ natural colour and to assure the acidity of the finished product, since different varieties and harvesting conditions can produce apples of lower acidity.”  Kingry, Judi and Lauren Devine. Bernardin Complete Book of Home Preserving. Toronto, Canada: Robert Rose Inc. 2015. Page 182. (Note, though, that they don’t call for lemon juice when canning apple slices on their own. Perhaps it was density issues about the mashed apple that concerned them. Bernardin Guide to Home Preserving. Toronto, Canada: Bernardin Ltd. 2013, page 38. )
The Ball Blue Book appears to be in transition. It did not call for lemon juice in the 36th edition (2013). By the 37th edition (2014, page 18), though, 3 tablespoons of bottled lemon juice had appeared in the ingredient list for making 3 litre / quarts of apple sauce. But, what to actually do with the lemon juice didn’t actually appear in the directions, reflecting perhaps backroom uncertainty or indecision at the time of publication. Still, the ratio someone was aiming for would appear to be 1 tablespoon per litre / quart jar as well.
Owing to the varying opinions amongst even the reputable sources on this, lemon juice appears to be an optional ingredient. Note that bottled would be required rather than fresh: if you are aiming for extra safety, you would want the guaranteed acidity levels of bottled lemon juice.
Botulism from home-canned applesauce
1931 2 cases, 1 death (Oregon)
1975 1 case, 0 deaths (New Jersey)
How much water?
- The Ball / Bernardin Complete Book (2015) says, “combine apples with just enough water to prevent sticking.” Kingry, Judi and Lauren Devine. Ball / Bernardin Complete Book of Home Preserving. Toronto: Robert Rose. 2015. Page 182.
- The USDA Complete (2015) says 125 ml (1/2 cup) of water, but doesn’t say per what quantity of apples; it’s possible they mean per 1 1/4 kg (3 lbs).  United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Complete guide to home canning. Agriculture information bulletin No. 539. 2015. Page 2-7.
- The Ball Blue Book (37 edition) suggested ratio of water works out to be 125 ml (1/2 cup) per 1 1/4 kg (3 lbs) of apples.  Ball Blue Book. Muncie, Indiana: Healthmark LLC / Jarden Home Brands. Edition 37. 2014. Page 18.
Varying processing times for applesauce
Both the Ball Blue Book (2014) and the Ball / Bernardin Complete Book call for both pints and quarts (half-litres and litres) to be processed (water-bath and steaming canning) for 20 minutes, whereas the USDA, So Easy to Preserve, and the Presto Canner manual call for only 15 minutes processing for the pints (half-litres), 20 minutes for the quarts (litres).
This recipe comes from the USDA Complete Guide (2015).
- Applesauce. In: United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Complete guide to home canning. Agriculture information bulletin No. 539. 2015. Page 2-7.
Per 250 ml (1 cup / 8 oz) :
- 111 calories, 5 mg sodium
- Weight Watchers PointsPlus®: 0 points (Weight Watchers’ tracker for PointsPlus shows it as free.)
* Nutrition info provided by https://caloriecount.about.com
* PointsPlus™ calculated by healthycanning.com. Not endorsed by Weight Watchers® International, Inc, which is the owner of the PointsPlus® registered trademark.
Ozark tradition held that the success, or otherwise, of your applesauce would be a reflection of your moral character:
Akin to this is the notion that a ‘bad woman can’t make good applesauce’ — it will always be mushy, and not sufficiently tart. This is so generally accepted in some sections as to have passed into the language, and the mere statement that a certain woman’s applesauce is no good is generally understood as a slighting reference to her morals.”  Randolph, Vance. Ozark Superstitions. Columbia University Press, 1947. Chapter 4.
References [ + ]
|1, 5.||↑||United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Complete guide to home canning. Agriculture information bulletin No. 539. 2015. Page 2-7.|
|2.||↑||Kingry, Judi and Lauren Devine. Bernardin Complete Book of Home Preserving. Toronto, Canada: Robert Rose Inc. 2015. Page 182.|
|3.||↑||Bernardin Guide to Home Preserving. Toronto, Canada: Bernardin Ltd. 2013, page 38.|
|4.||↑||Kingry, Judi and Lauren Devine. Ball / Bernardin Complete Book of Home Preserving. Toronto: Robert Rose. 2015. Page 182.|
|6.||↑||Ball Blue Book. Muncie, Indiana: Healthmark LLC / Jarden Home Brands. Edition 37. 2014. Page 18.|
|7.||↑||Randolph, Vance. Ozark Superstitions. Columbia University Press, 1947. Chapter 4.|