There are many different ways to can applesauce.
It has taken me years to get it down to a manageable task, and I’ve learned some shortcuts over the past 15 years of making my own applesauce.
Here’s how we do it. This post contains affiliate links.
Get your apples from a local orchard or small backyard orchardist, because they will likely work with you on cost. I try to buy what my apple guy calls ‘sauce apples’ or ‘deer apples’. These aren’t the most beautiful apples, and may have bruises or a couple of spots that need to be cut off, but at 3 cents a pound I just can’t find anyone else who will beat that!
If you can, get a combination of at least two kinds of apples. My favorite combinations are Golden Delicious and Gala, or Golden Delicious and Spartans. Spartans are red apples with very white flesh, sweet and crisp. Really, ANY crisp apples will work!
It takes roughly 3# of apples per quart of sauce, so 12 quarts will require a 36# box of apples, approximately. Larger apples yield more sauce and less waste than smaller apples.
Tools I Rely On
KitchenAid Mixer & Attachments
My main tool is my KitchenAid Mixer– Any wattage will do (I have the small one, 250-watt) with the Food Grinder and the Fruit & Vegetable Strainer attachments. You have to have both, because they go together to make the strainer for the applesauce. I think KitchenAid makes a little extra cash because folks are forced to purchase both attachments. The initial investment pays off in HOURS saved each time you make applesauce though!
Electric Roaster Pan
The other main tool I use, and find extremely necessary, is my 18-quart electric roaster oven. It’s a countertop model that plugs in… you know the kind– they are on sale everywhere right now as the stores are gearing up for Thanksgiving. Take the racks out of it and just use the oven and the roaster pan that comes with it.
I use a Commercial Grade 12 quart Container to I catch all of the applesauce in when it is processed through the KitchenAid. I put foil around the top of it to keep stray apple pieces and peels from falling in while I’m running the apples through.
Preparing Jars and Lids for Processing
Run all of your clean jars, tongs and jar lifter through a rinse cycle in the dishwasher on the hottest setting. While they are rinsing, turn on your oven to 150* and plan to leave it on all day. Transfer jars from the dishwasher to the oven, laying then open sides facing out, on the racks.
Using tongs, take the jars out of the oven as you need them, to fill with hot applesauce just prior to canning.
Keep a tea kettle full of very hot water on the stove, to pour over jar lids to prep them for the jars.
1. I set up my mixer and clean out my sink with bleach, because it’s been proven the kitchen sink IS the most germ-filled thing in the house. Rinse and fill both sides of the sink with water, and put in as many apples as will fit.
2. Preheat the roaster to 350 degrees.
3. Enlist help! I have my kids help scrub apples and cut them up. Husbands can be drafted too! We don’t core or skin them, just cut them up into about 8ths or 16ths, depending on their size, pulling the stems off as we cut them. They can jam up the strainer. The KitchenAid attachment separates the sauce from the peels, core and seeds, so you don’t have to deal with it.
4. Fill the roaster oven with sliced apples. I usually do them in about three layers with cinnamon added between. I don’t use any sugar unless I get really tart apples. (I did that once, big mistake…I got Pippins, and made very TART applesauce that year! My Warheads-loving kids LOVED it but I couldn’t eat it.) Heap the apples to where the lid rests about an inch above the edge of the roaster.
5. Add about a cup of water to the apples. They will cook down, so don’t worry about the lid not fitting. 🙂 It takes about an hour to cook the apples, stirring them a few times while they are cooking. Cook them until they are nice and mushy!
While the apples are cooking, get your crew set to cutting apples for the next batch!
One roaster pan full of apples will make 7 quarts of applesauce, with maybe a cup or two left over.
5. Scoop the apples into the strainer feeder, and voila! You have applesauce.
6. Ladle hot sauce into clean, hot jars, add a hot lid and tighten the band down, and process in a water bath canner. The baseline time for canning quarts is 20 minutes, per the blue Ball Canning Guide that I have. You need to adjust for elevation, and I’m not sure how they figure that out, so you’ll need to find out for your area. I have to add 5 minutes to the time for where I live. You’ll have to go elsewhere for detailed instructions on the canning part, as I’m no expert.
7. When the timer goes off, lift the jars out of the canner on to a clean, dry kitchen towel on the counter and let cool in an area free of drafts. You will hear the tops *pop* as the seals close.
8. Allow to cool overnight and then date the lids with a permanent marker. Store. I keep mine in my basement pantry, in the canning jar boxes since they’re there already.
- Wear comfortable shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty or sticky.
- Wear an apron or tuck a large kitchen towel into the waistband of your pants to help keep your clothes from becoming stained with apple juice. It stains brown!
- Wipe up the counters and wipe down the strainer/mixer as you go.
- Keep your work area low, as on an end table or coffee table. Your back will thank you.
- Cover the work area with Press & Seal plastic wrap or tape down some plastic wrap that can be pulled up and thrown away for easy clean up
- Wash your strainer parts, spatulas, funnels and containers between batches of apples.
- After jars have sealed and cooled, take off the jar bands, wipe any drips from the jars and bands with a warm wet washcloth, then replace the bands.
What About This Blackened, Nasty Roaster Pan?
Fill your roaster pan with hot, soapy water as soon as you are done using it for the day. This is one task I dread, because it’s the hardest thing to clean after I’ve cooked apples in it all day long. Seriously, I can soak it for 3 days and it doesn’t get any better or easier to scrub! I have a trick up my sleeve though. (You knew I did, didn’t you?) All it requires is a self-cleaning oven. It helps if your oven is dirty, so you can kill two birds (or apples) with one stone. Your oven IS dirty, right? The next day, after you’ve mopped your sticky floor and wiped down all of the sticky surfaces in your kitchen, dump out the soak water from your roaster pan, and scrub the burnt on stuff the best you can.
Rinse and let it drip dry a bit in the sink, and then put it on one of your oven racks in your oven, and turn on the oven’s self-cleaning mode. Allow the pan to remain in the oven until the full cleaning cycle is finished. When you pull it out, you will be amazed to see what appears to be a brand-new roaster pan AND a nice clean oven! Just wipe/rinse the ashes out, and put it away until next time.
Please Note: Always follow current canning recipes and processing times. The FDA recently changed canning process times for safe food storage.