The day before canning:
1. Check jars to make sure none have nicks on the rims, cracks or sharp edges.
2. Gather all canning supplies and assemble strainer (it is worth $10.00 to purchase a canning jar lifter and a magnetic lid lifter, worth every penny!!).
3. Wash all kitchen towels and washcloths (you'll need them).
4. Create a plan for dinner for tomorrow that doesn’t include any cooking (something fast and easy).
Day of Canning:
Step 1: Wash jars and rings in dishwasher, then leave in there until needed (this will keep them hot).
Step 2: Fill a clean sink with warm water and fill it with apples. Rub apples by hand to remove any residue, dirt, or spray.
Step 3: Cut apples into quarters with a large knife. Do not leave the apples in the cut stage too long or they will turn brown.
Step 4: Steam apples by filling a 12 quart stock pot with 2 cups of water and cut apples. Cover with lid. As the pot boils the steam will render the apples soft. You need to stir the pot often so it doesn't burn on the bottom. Use a long wooden spoon and try to lift up from the bottom of the pot to the top and push the hard apples on the top to the bottom. When the steam has rendered the apples soft (they will start to fall apart and will look mushy) take the pot off of the stove. This process generally takes about 20 minutes. If you have room on your stove, you may want to have two large pots steaming apples.
Step 5: Using a colander, strain the apples from the water. Allow the apples to sit in the colander for a 3-5 minutes until they cool enough to handle (they will still be very hot).
Step 6: Separate skins from sauce by filling up the strainer with the steamed apples and processing them. When the bowl is full of applesauce pour it into another 12 quart pot on the stove and cook over medium low stirring occasionally to keep the bottom from burning.
Step 7: Repeat steps 2-6 until you create enough applesauce to can a full batch.
Step 8: Fill water bath canner half way with water, heat to low boil (or 140° F). I prefer place my water bath canner on my camp chef propane stove on my back deck and process my canning there. It keeps the heat outside and allows me to have more room on my stove (just bring the jars inside to cool after processing).
Step 9: Add sugar and spices to applesauce. None is required. Sugar will help hold the color but is not required. 1/4 cup sugar per quart, 1 1/2 teaspoon of salt for taste, 4 sprinkles of cinnamon, 2 sprinkles of allspice. Some may like to use some ground cloves. I personally don’t add anything to my applesauce.
Step 10: Bring lids to a boil. Some recommend not boiling lids but to bring them to 190° F. I think that is difficult to get them to that temperature and bring to boiling rather than test the temperature. We have never had any trouble with boiling. Don't boil them for a long time, just bring to boiling and take them off of the stove.
Step 11: Bring applesauce to a boil. Stir often and keep the heat evenly distributed in the apple sauce so it will not burn (about 20 minutes). You do not want to scorch the sauce and spoil the flavor.
Step 12: The applesauce is boiling and the jars are hot, now is the time to begin filling up the jars. Fill the jars to within a 1/4 inch of the top (use a cloth towel to handle the hot jars). Wipe the rim with a clean damp cloth to remove any spilled sauce on the rim. Put on a lid and finger tighten ring on the jar.
Step 13: Load jars into bath with rack above water. Slowly lower jars into water and add extra water if necessary to ensure 1” of water is covering jars. Cover and bring to a boil. When boiling, start timer and reduce temperature to maintain a gentle boil. When timer is done, remove jars from canner and allow jars to cool at room temperature away from drafts.
Step 14: The next day check to make sure all of your jars sealed (if you find one that didn’t seal, store in the refrigerator and use within a few weeks). Remove rings, wash jars and use within 3 years.
Check with your local extension service for current guidelines on processing times. As of 2008, our extension service offers the following time table for applesauce. I live at 4,930 feet, so I process my quart jars for 30 minutes.
I can a two year supply of applesauce in late September so I only need to can it every other year. I enjoy using applesauce in my baking as a fat substitute so it’s nice to have plenty of jars in the basement. Plus I love how the memories of canning applesauce with my mom come flooding back as soon as I smell the sweet apples as they cook on the stove. There is something so gratifying about canning your own fruits.
1 bushel of apples weighs 48 pounds and yields 14 quarts of applesauce. Working alone it generally takes 5 hours to process 28 quarts of applesauce.