A guide to canning the world’s best applesauce.
The first step to canning exceptional applesauce is to hand-pick pounds and pounds of apples from the nearest apple trees you can find. In my case, that’s a family owned orchard near Charlottesville, Virginia called Carter’s Mountain.
Aim for apples that are suitable for applesauce (if you’ve got a specific variety in mind, a quick google search is a great double check to make sure.) I used a mix of Granny Smith, Jonagold, Stayman, Winesap, Fuji and Golden Delicious apples.
Once you’ve made it home with your haul, give all the apples a good rinse under running water, giving an extra scrub to any particularly dirty apples.
Then, core and slice the apples, leaving the skin on (an apple corer will save you a ton of time here!) Fill a stock pot with the apple slices, adding about a 1/2 cup of water or apple juice to the base of the pot to prevent scorching. Add your favorite spices, a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice works great, just be sure not to add too much. Start with a total of 1-2 teaspoons of spices and then adjust to taste.
Cover the pot and heat the apple slices over medium heat, stirring frequently until soft.
While the apples cook, heat up a tall stock pot or water bath canner filled with water over medium-high heat. Grab 8 wide-mouth pint-sized glass canning jars. Wash the jars, along with lids and rings in warm soapy water. Once clean, add the glass jars to the stock pot of water, so that they can warm up while the water comes to a boil. You will be adding hot applesauce to the jars, and using heated jars prevents extreme changes in temperature which can cause the glass to break.
Once your apples are soft, you have two options. You can transfer the apple slices in batches to a blender and blend to a “saucy” consistency. Or, you can use an immersion blender and blend the slices directly in the stock pot you cooked them in. Give the sauce a quick taste, to make sure you don’t need to adjust the spices, and adjust as needed.
Carefully remove the hot jars from the water and place them on your counter. Use a wide mouth funnel to spoon your apple sauce into your jars, leaving 3/4 inch of space between the top of the sauce and the top of the jar. Use a damp paper towel to wipe the rims of the jars. Put lids and rings on each jar, securing the rings gently. Return the filled jars to your pot of hot water, making sure there is 1 inch of water over the tops of the jars. Once the pot reaches a gentle boil, put the top on your pot and start your timer. You want to boil (aka process) the jars for 15 minutes (adjust time for your altitude). Once 15 minutes have passed, turn off your heat, and let the jars rest in the water for 5 minutes. Carefully remove the jars, and place them in a spot where they can be undisturbed for 24 hours. You will likely hear the jars seal, they’ll make a “popping” noise as they do.
After the jars have completely cooled (probably the next day), check your seals. If you press on the top of the lid, the lid should not flex. If the button is still up and gives when you press on it, it has not sealed. If you find unsealed jars, you can repeat the canning process, freeze the jars, or just place them in the fridge and eat them first. You can double check the seal by removing the ring, and lifting the jar gently by the lid itself (put your fingers on either side of the lid and lift). If you can lift the jar by the lid, your jar has sealed successfully.
Label the jars with the contents, and the date made. Then, store your jars in a single layer in a cool dry place, like a pantry, with the rings off (please do not stack your jars for storage, I only stacked them for the photo to show quantity). The sauce will last for up to 1 year on a shelf as long as the lid stays securely sealed. Once you open a jar, store any unconsumed apple sauce in the fridge and eat within a week.