You probably know that autumn is a busy time of year. The overflowing garden and orchards are keeping us all busy with canning, pickling, freezing, fermenting, you name it.
I love to have lots of homemade applesauce on hand and considering the low cost of bulk apples (free if you have a tree or know the right people) it’s hard to justify not making any.
I’ve always been a fan of short cuts; I even made a pie once without peeling the apples, still getting crap from the family on that one! This is hands down the easiest and fastest way to make applesauce I’ve ever found.
Special Supplies for Whole Apple Apple Sauce
There is a slight downfall to this method. You’ll need something to separate the apples and peels after you’ve cooked them. I did it for years with a Victorio Food Strainer and Sauce Maker but this year I’m using the KitchenAid Fruit and Vegetable Strainer that hooks to my stand mixer.
The strainer is cheaper (actually if you already have a mixer they are about the same, if you want to grind meat go ahead and buy the meat/fruit combo) but requires some arm power, luckily I still get my arm workout carrying Mary around.
When you set up the strainer you’ll need a bowl to catch the apple sauce and another to catch the skin & seeds that get pushed out the end. Set this up before you’re dealing with hot apple much!
You’ll also need a large pot to do the cooking and a set up for water bath canning if you plan to preserve some for the future. I’m a big fan of small batch canning but if we’re having a good apple year I go all in with canning apple sauce.
I called my grandma on Friday to ask if the big, old apple trees by the barn had any apples on them. They are tart green apples, I used to bake pies (maybe even one with peels) from them, but free is free.
She let me know that for some reason there wasn’t an apple to be seen but that I might have some luck checking the old trees. Fast forward to Saturday and my Grandma, sister, three cousins and I “apple picking” from the old farm trees.
There were probably 20 trees but each one was 25+ feet tall. And they are all planted on a ravine so even if it looked like you could reach some decent fruit by the time you made it to the base of the tree you were 2 feet lower than you thought you’d be.
The slope also made a ladder too dangerous, if you could even get a ladder into the dense overgrown apple trees. It was a real shame that we couldn’t get to the really nice, bright red and shiny apples but I managed to drag home 3 shopping bags full of free apples.
I taste tested a few (as did my 3 year old nephew who got mad at me when I cut him off after 5 apples) and they were all sweet with a little bit of tart. They were also far from supermarket ready, personally I don’t mind an apple with some personality!
If you live in a rural area in the north east you’ve probably got apples coming out of your ears. Every old farm had a few trees and there are tons of them hiding out in abandoned fields and hedgerows.
I took a pruning class at a local orchard and the man giving the class said there are so many growing feral around here that you don’t even need to plant a pollinator when you plant an apple tree. Because they’re everywhere!
Be safe, ask for permission if you’re going to pick on someones property and watch out for cars if you’re picking along a road.
How to Make Whole Apple Sauce
I like to do my sauce this way for a few reasons. First of all, you waste a lot of good apple cutting out the core and removing the peel. Second, if you have red apples your sauce is pink! I’m not a pink girl at all but it’s fun.
This recipe assumes you know the basics of water bath canning. If not please check out this post on water bath canning basics.
You’ll need lots of apples to make the mess worth it. Once you’ve got them home give them a quick bath to get off any bugs or dirt that hitched a ride home.
Put the pot on the stove and pour in a few inches of water or apple juice and heat over medium low. Start cutting up the apples, cut small ones in half and larger ones in quarters.
Keep adding apples until the pot is about 3/4 full. Stir occasionally as the apples start to break up. The steam from the water you added and the liquid coming out of the apples as they cook makes the apples nice and soft.
When all the apples have fallen apart it’s time to use food strainer. Carefully ladle the apple mush into the top and turn the crank or turn the mixer onto slow and the apples will start to move through the strainer. You might need to give them a push with a wooden spoon but watch out for splatters!
Return the apple sauce to the pan to stay warm over low while you prepare the jars and lids. Now is the time to sweeten or season the apple sauce with cinnamon. I usually bake with mine so I leave it plain.
Fill pint jars with hot sauce leaving a 1/2 inch head space, add lids and bands. Process for 20 minutes.
Don’t forget to PIN this to your Canning board!
- Water or Cider
- Optional - Cinnamon, Sugar
- Cut large apples into quarters and smaller ones in half. Remove the stems and cut out and bad parts (brown spots on the skin that don't go into the flesh aren't bad spots)
- Put apples and a few inches of water in a large pot. Cover and cook on low until soft. The water turns to steam to cook the apples
- Once the apples are soft run them through the food strainer.
- Prepare your jars, lids and water bath canner and return the applesauce to the pan
- Slowly heat until bubbling, stir in cinnamon to taste if desired. I leave mine plain. If you start with sweet apples (or like tart sauce) you won't need to add sugar but if you want sweetened sauce now is the time to add it.
- Fill jars to a 1/2 inch head space, add the lids and screw bands until finger-tip tight
- Process for 20 minutes
Check out my Recipes Page for more ideas or start here: