How to Can Applesauce (a step-by-step photo tutorial)

This easy step-by-step photo tutorial will having you making and canning your own applesauce in no time!  Who knew it could be so easy? 


As a child, one of the things that I looked forward to each fall was helping my mom make applesauce to can and freeze.  My favorite part was turning the crank to the Victorio Strainer and watching as it separated the peels and seeds from the yummy part of the apples to make homemade applesauce.  It always felt almost magical!

Now I have the privilege of carrying on the tradition myself.  It brings me so much joy to watch my own children have the fun of turning the crank each year as we make applesauce.  And I love that I get to continue a tradition that has been happening in my family since at least my great-grandmother, and probably much longer!

I preserve applesauce by both canning and freezing.  Our favorite is the frozen because it tastes more like freshly made applesauce.  Plus, we love the treat of eating it when it’s just slightly thawed.  It’s so deliciously refreshing!  But of course frozen applesauce also takes up a lot of freezer space, so I also end up canning some too.  And really, it’s quite tasty as well.  And it tastes about 1,000 times better than bought applesauce, for sure!

Want to make your own homemade applesauce to can or freeze?  I’ll be happy to walk you through the process of doing both.

* Apples –– 3 lbs. (approx. 6 to 8 apples) of apples will give you approximately 1 qt. of applesauce 
* Sugar (optional)
* Dishpan or bowls to put the tomatoes in
* Knife (this brand is my absolute favorite)
* Large kettle
* Long spoon to stir apples when cooking
* Ladel for transfering apples to jars
* Food Mill or Victorio Strainer
* Freezer safe containers- we love these BPA free freezer boxes (if you plan to freeze your applesauce)

* Wide Funnel
* Damp rag to wipe tops of jars
* Small pan to boil jar lids in
* Fork or Lid Wand
* Canner
* Canning jars with lids and bands (if you plan to can your applesauce)
* Jar lifter
* Old towels or rags to set the hot jars on

(If you are new to canning and need to buy both the jar lifter and a funnel, it’s cheaper to get this Ball Canning Utensil Set.)



1.  Remove stems and the blossom end of apple (this is on the bottom end of the apple in case you are confused), as well as any defective spots, then cut into quarters.  You do not need to peel or core the apples.


2.  Wash quartered apples well.  I simply fill a dishpan full of apples with water and then after swishing them around a bit, I’ll take a handful of apples and rinse them under running water.  I continue doing this until all the apples are washed.


3.  Dump your quartered apples into a kettle and add a small amount of water to it.  I typically add water until there is about ½ in. of it in the bottom of the kettle.  You basically just want a little bit of liquid in your kettle so that the apples don’t stick to the bottom as they start to cook.

Cook over medium heat until soft and mushy, approximately 15 to 20 minutes.  (Should look like the picture above when they are done cooking).  Stir occasionally, especially when beginning to cook, to prevent sticking.


4.  At this point you two options for turning the cooked apples into applesauce.  My picture shows the Victorio Strainer because that’s what I use to make my sauce.  I love it because it’s super easy and does the job much more quickly than a Food Mill .  But either one works. 

Fill the top part of the Victorio Strainer with cooked apples.  Then turn the the handle to push the apples through the sieve. This will remove the seeds and peels and give you a nice, smooth sauce.

If you are using a Food Mill, simply fill it with the cooked apples and turn the handle to squeeze the apples and produce applesauce.  Continue turning, occasionally reversing the direction to clean the apples off the bottom of the “pan”.  (If you want to see pictures of how the Food Mill works, check out my post on how to make tomato juice.)


5.  If desired, add sugar to sweeten your applesauce.  Some apples are sweet enough that there is no need for this.  We personally prefer the taste of applesauce made with a tarter apple and so I always add sugar to taste.

A good rule of thumb is to add 1/8 cup per quart and then increase from there until it’s as sweet as you want it.


6.  Pour your applesauce into jars- a wide funnel makes this way less messy!  The jar should be full to the base of the neck.  Wipe rim of each jar with a damp cloth to remove any applesauce residue that may be there.  (If there is even a slight bit of applesauce on it, it may not allow it to seal properly.)

Or if you want to freeze the applesauce instead of canning, simply pour the applesauce into freezer safe containers, then once cooled, freeze.  Remember to only fill containers allow about ¾ in. full to allow room for the applesauce to expand as it freezes.

If you are freezing your applesauce, this is your last step!

How to Can Applesauce (lids)

7.   Once you have 7 jars filled, place 7 metal canning lids in a small pan.  Cover with water; bring to a boil.  Once water boils, use a fork to lift the jar lids out of the water- be careful not to burn yourself!- and place them on the jars.  (You can also purchase a Lid Wand that uses a magnet to lift the lids more easily.)  Secure each lid with a jar band/ring.  (The reason for heating the lids is to soften the rubber, allowing for a better seal.) 

I read recently that some of the newer lids actually recommend that you don’t boil them, so you probably should double check the instructions on the box of lids before doing this step.

8.  Place 7 jars in canner.  Fill with enough hot water to almost cover the jars.  Turn burner on medium high heat.  Once water starts to boil, reduce heat slightly and process both pints and quarts for 20 minutes.  Make sure the water is boiling gently and steadily the whole time.  You may need to adjust heat to keep the boil going nicely, but really, as long as it is boiling, you are fine.


9.  After processing for 20 minutes, turn burner off.  Remove jars using jar lifter- you may want to have a dishrag in your other hand to catch any hot water that drips from the jars as you remove them- and place on an old towel, blanket or other padded surface.  (The reason for doing this is to protect your counter top from the super hot jars.)  Allow at least a little bit of air space around each jar, making sure not to have jars close enough to touch.  Do not move until jars are completely cool.

Jars should seal as they cool and you will typically hear a snap or pinging sound as the vacuum seal is formed.  Lids will be slightly concave when sealed.  To test the seal, lightly tap the center of the cooled jar lid.  If it is firm and does not move, it should be sealed.  If it pushes in, it didn’t seal properly.  You can still use unsealed jars, just put them in the refrigerator and use them as soon as possible.

After jars are completely cool, you can remove the rings.  Jars should be wiped clean before storing.


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    • ThriftyFrugalMom says

      Glad that it can help, Marlynn! Our kids love applesauce, too. So much so, in fact, that I kind of have to limit how much they eat sometimes because I already can a ridiculous amount of applesauce and don’t really want to have to do more!

    • ThriftyFrugalMom says

      I know canning can seem overwhelming if you haven’t done it before, but it really is very easy overall. And I think you’ll love the homemade applesauce!

  1. says

    I have been canning applesauce for a few years and love it! Ready to start to learn to can other items a little late this year but trying to learn all I can! I did diced apples for the first time this weekend!

    • ThriftyFrugalMom says

      If you know how to can applesauce then you should be good to go with anything else! I’m curious what you use diced apples for?

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