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How to Can Applesauce Without Sugar

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One of my favorite things to spend my time doing during the winter is canning, and this recipe for how to can applesauce without sugar is one of my favorites!

applesauce canning recipe

We usually think of summer as canning season – and you’re not wrong! There’s produce to be put up galore. 

But winter is a great time to can other things like baked beans, apple pie filling, and chili beans. 

And of course, this article is going to show you how to can applesauce without sugar. 

It’s probably easier than you think. 

All you need is apples (obviously), jars, and a large kettle to process them. A waterbath canning kettle is something you may or may not already have. If you don’t, know that any kettle tall enough to leave at least 1.5 inches of headspace above your jars will work. The main thing you’ll need is a rack of some sort to make sure water circulates beneath the jars rather than having them rest on the heat source, which could potentially cause them to break. 

For pint jars, a kettle about the size of an 8-quart instant pot can work. As long as it has a lid, and you can bring it to a rolling boil. 

When I was a kid, we used to can several hundred jars of food each year, so of course, we had not only 2-3 pressure canners but also kettles specifically for water bath canning – and whenever we had a really large batch of canning, we usually teamed up with a neighbor who had a self-contained canner – a stainless steel kettle with a built-in wood firebox, and it held about 50-quart jars at one time. As a teenager, I so wanted to save up my money to buy one myself – not exactly your normal teenage dream. 😂

Image shows a jar of apple sauce with a spoon next to a bowl of apple sauce

But anyway, back to the applesauce. I made a little video showing three different ways to turn your apples to sauce. 

  1. The blender. Peel, core, and steam/boil in a small amount of water. When apples are tender, blend them in batches in a blender or food processor. 
  2. Potato masher. Peel, core, and steam/boil apples in a small amount of water. Make sure they’re truly done and not just tender but mushy. Then use your potato masher to puree apples. This method can leave you with some chunks, which can be good or bad depending on what you like. 
  3. The processor. Quarter your apples, steam them till they’re somewhat soft, and run through your processor. Depending on your processor and the texture of your apples, you may need to run the pulp (seeds, peelings, etc.) back through your processor 2-3 times. You’ve probably heard of Victorio strainers and other produce processors, which are commonly used for making tomato juice in the summer. After using many different types, I’ve found that I actually prefer Norpro. It’s just a lot simpler to set up, use, and clean up. 

See all three methods demonstrated in the video below:

When it comes to canning, you probably already know the general guidelines:

  • Fruit can be waterbath canned with no problem. While you definitely don’t want bad bacteria infecting a batch, you don’t run the risk of botulism and other truly harmful bacteria that you do in lower acid foods that need to be pressure canned. 
  • Cleanliness is next to godliness. Make sure your tools, jars, etc. are all clean. The last thing you want is nasty bacteria hanging out in a jar of applesauce. And of course, you want a good seal. Making sure your jar rims and lids is the best way to avoid popping seals and moldy applesauce.
  • You can reuse jars and rings many, many times over, but it’s best to use new, unblemished flats each time. 

When it comes to how to can applesauce without sugar, there’s not real trick to it: use apples that taste good, cook/process them before they turn brown, and add some lemon juice to raise the acidity if you want/need to. 

Canning applesauce is such a gratifying process, because unlike with canning diced tomatoes, where I’ve found myself complaining about the slow process more than once – you really get a lot of “bang” for your buck – the apples process quickly, and your shelves fill up fast.  

Photo shows a bowl of apple sauce and jar of apple sauce taken from above.

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How to Can Applesauce Without Sugar

If you love homemade applesauce, here’s some great ways to can it without using sugar!

  • Author: Elise

Ingredients

Scale
  • 1516 pounds of apples
  • water
  • cinnamon (optional)

Instructions

  1. Prepare apples by quartering, if using a food mill, or coring and peeling if using a blender or potato masher
  2. Steam apples, or boil gently in a few inches of water until tender, stirring up from the bottom a few times to make sure the apples on top get cooked
  3. Process or puree apples
  4. stir 1/4 cup of cinnamon into applesauce if desired

To can: 

  1. I like to use the cold pack process for canning as I don’t have to worry about the temperature of anything that way. 
  2. Ladle applesauce into prepared (clean, sterile) jars
  3. Wipe rims with a clean cloth
  4. Fit with lids and rings
  5. To prepare canning kettle: fit with rack (to separate jars from direct heat), set on stove, and fill halfway with water
  6. Add jars, doing your best to make sure there is space between jars so they don’t touch
  7. Fill canner with additional water if needed to cover jars by an inch
  8. Top canner with lid
  9. Heat to rolling boil
  10. Continue boiling for 30 minutes
  11. Remove heat, and let cool, if possible as long as needed
  12. If you do need to remove jars from the canner while they’re hot, remove them with a jar lifter to set them on a towel-covered counter, then cover jars with a heavy towel to protect them from drafts and possible breakage
  13. After 24 hours, test for seal. At this point, rings may be removed from jars if desired
  14. If any jars haven’t sealed, you can store them in the refrigerator for up to a week, or re-can them with new lids. 
  15. Enjoy! 

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