Unsweetened Applesauce

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Despite my obvious love for all things pumpkin this time of year, I can’t forget another sweet star of autumn – the apple. Having never made my own applesauce before, this year it became top priority on my ever-growing list of things to preserve. I’m really not sure what I’ve been waiting for, either! It was easy, especially with the help of the nifty apple peeler my mother-in-law got me for Christmas a few years ago, although you certainly don’t need one to get the job done. I usually buy unsweetened applesauce at the store, so I was wondering if I’d be able to can my own. When I found the basic recipe for applesauce in the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving though, I was happy to find that there’s no sugar required in order for the applesauce to be safe for preserving – only lemon juice. You certainly can add sugar if you like, and perhaps a dash of cinnamon as well. After how easy it was to make, I think I may just be taking another trip to the orchard!

  • 6 lbs apples (about 18 apples)
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice

Peel and core the apples, and cut them into chunks.

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In a large dutch oven, add about half as much water as there are apples. Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat and boil gently, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes or until the apples are tender. Remove from the heat and strain.

Unsweetened Applesauce - 2

Unsweetened Applesauce - 3

Puree the apples in a food processor until smooth.

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Return the applesauce to the dutch oven and add in the lemon juice. You may optionally add 1 and 1/2 cups sugar, but it is not needed (however, the lemon juice is needed to assure the necessary acidity of the finished product). Bring the applesauce to a boil over medium-high heat. When ready to can, prepare your supplies. Bring the temperature of the glass jars up by processing them in hot water for several minutes. Heat a few cups of water in a small saucepan for the lids. Boil a few cups of water in a small saucepan for the lids. When ready to fill the jars, maintain the applesauce at a gentle boil over low heat. Ladle the hot applesuace into the jars, leaving 1/2″ head space. Process 20 minutes. Makes about 6 eight-ounce jars (with sugar, you’ll get 7-8 eight-ounce jars).

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24 Responses to “Unsweetened Applesauce”

  1. 1 Jessica Says:
    October 5th, 2011 at 11:11 am

    I just made applesauce the other day as well! So good! I added cinnamon and pumpkin puree to mine…delicious!

  2. 2 Katie Says:
    October 5th, 2011 at 11:53 am

    If you leave the peels on and run it through a food mill, it will be a beautiful rosy color (and you don’t need to peel them!) :) Cortlands make an especially attractive applesauce when done that way!

  3. 3 Jenna Says:
    October 5th, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    Yum! And I totally have that same apple corer/peeler (and love it). It really speeds things up with apple pies and such, doesn’t it?

  4. 4 Carrie @ Bakeaholic Mama Says:
    October 5th, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    I love that Ball cookbook. I bought a copy for my mom and grandmother last year… I need to grab a copy for myself! I’m always calling my mom to look up canning tips/recipes for me!

  5. 5 Tracey Says:
    October 5th, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    I love homemade applesauce, but I still haven’t learned to can. It’s one of my goals though, and I hear that Ball book is awesome.

  6. 6 Jessica @ How Sweet Says:
    October 5th, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    definitely want to try this – love it!

  7. 7 Amber | Bluebonnets & Brownies Says:
    October 5th, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    I need to look up that recipe in the Ball book. We love applesauce with a little cinnamon, but we don’t ever think to buy it OR make it.

  8. 8 carolinaheartstrings Says:
    October 5th, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    Looks like a wonderful batch. I need to do this too! I have a ton of apples.

  9. 9 SnoWhite @ Finding Joy in My Kitchen Says:
    October 5th, 2011 at 11:34 pm

    I’m so glad you gave applesauce a try!! We’ve gone through about 15 lbs of apples in applesauce so far this fall, and we’re just getting started :)

    We add cinnamon and nutmeg to ours — and we don’t puree it; we prefer some apple chunks.

  10. 10 Katrina Says:
    October 6th, 2011 at 8:17 am

    I love a good applesauce recipe, and I only buy unsweetened. Love this!

  11. 11 Casey@Good. Food. Stories. Says:
    October 6th, 2011 at 10:19 pm

    I’m a chunky applesauce girl too (I’m also a lazy girl who hates to clean the food processor, so that helps!).

  12. 12 Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction Says:
    October 6th, 2011 at 10:52 pm

    Lovely! I usually freeze my applesauce, but I might have to try canning some. Perfect for applesauce cake all year long. :)

  13. 13 Jamie | My Baking Addiction Says:
    October 9th, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    I am so envious of your canning skills! Love the idea of homemade apple sauce. Great gift from your mother-in-law too. I totally need to pick one of those babies up! :)

  14. 14 Hugz Says:
    October 23rd, 2011 at 3:49 am

    This post seems so completely unnecessary to me. If I want apple sauce, I make it fresh EVERY TIME I want it. If I make roast pork, for baby food, for a cake, for apples turnovers…. I peal, core and slice 2 apples, put in a microwave-safe bowl, add a splash of water, cover and zap on high for about 4mins, or until soft. Then, depending on the texture I want, I either mash it with a fork, for chunky, or hit it with mister buzzy (my stick blender). For sweets, i add pinch of sugar and a pinch of cinnamon, for savory, a pinch of salt and some fresh cracked black pepper. It confuses me why people would by it in a jar when it is so simple to make and SOOOOO much cheaper.

  15. 15 Tracy Says:
    October 23rd, 2011 at 10:04 am

    “Hugz” – I’m sorry you feel that way. As with all the canning I do, it’s about using fruits and vegetables picked at the peak of the season and preserving them without all the chemicals and preservatives you’d find in their grocery store counterparts. Also, while I can certainly pop into my grocery store in the middle of winter and pick up a few apples that were most likely trucked in from Florida, I prefer to source locally as much as possible and to preserve what I gather so that I can enjoy local fruits and vegetables all year round. Hope that helps.

  16. 16 Sarah Says:
    November 14th, 2011 at 12:25 am

    Yum! We also have been making applesauce for the past couple years. “WHY would you can is actually a question I hear a lot.” Along with the reasons Tracy mentioned, we find it to be the most economical way to supplement our diet. If you buy in season and in bulk (or have a generous friend with a bumper crop), you can make large batches of food for little or no money. Also, we wind up with a better-tasting product by preserving at the peak of the season rather than buying out-of-season produce. There is little more disgusting than a mealy apple! As Tracy touched on, there important health, environmental and economic benefits that come from buying from local sources as often as possible. Finally, I must admit that there is a primal satisfaction that comes from surveying all those jars and knowing that my work is going to provide food for my family for the rest of the year. I know it sounds corny, but there you go!

    I follow the same recipe, but I use my stick blender to puree in the pot. It’s easier, less to clean, and I can leave some chunks. I jar the first half the batch as plain applesauce, and then I add pumpkin or apple pie spice blend to the rest for spiced applesauce. We love both versions!

  17. 17 Sarah Says:
    November 14th, 2011 at 12:26 am

    You can also freeze this recipe in freezer-safe containers if you don’t want to can it.

  18. 18 Kimberly Says:
    November 19th, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    Made a batch of this with about 4 lbs of McIntosh apples that I had intended for hand eating before realizing they were too soft for my taste. The biggest problem I had was that I added too much water and let the apples boil too long [apparently 7 min was too long] and it turned out a bit too smooth for my taste – almost creamy. But, for my first attempt at canning on my own, not too bad.

  19. 19 Amy Says:
    May 28th, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    Thank you for your recipe. I am baking muffins that require unsweetened apple sauce; I was at the supermarket looking for it, didn’t have any luck, found your recipe came home and made it myself. It’s smells and tastes Amazing, I look forward to making my muffins. Thanks, I learned something new, useful and tasty.

  20. 20 leighanne Says:
    July 13th, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    How long do the jars of apple sauce keep for?

  21. 21 Tracy Says:
    July 16th, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    Leighanne – The general rule for most preserves is that they will keep for at least a year in a cool, dark place. Hope that helps!

  22. 22 Nicole Buresh Says:
    September 25th, 2012 at 12:51 am

    Awesome recipe! I will definitely be making this again. I was unsure how it would taste but loved it. I added 5 tablespoons of sugar to add a little of sweetness to it and was blown away.

  23. 23 Jenifer Says:
    October 7th, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    Can you substitute fruit fresh for lemon juice?

  24. 24 Tracy Says:
    October 10th, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    Jenifer – The USDA recommends using bottled lemon juice because it has been uniformly acidified so that it has a consistent level of acid. In a recipe like this where there is no added sugar, I would definitely follow that recommendation to ensure that the resulting product is safe for preserving. Hope that helps!

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