Canning and Baking With Homemade Applesauce

Directions for making sugar-free applesauce, along with three recipes for baked goods using it.

| Fall 2017

  • Home-canned applesauce and the equipment needed to make it.
    Photo by Lori Dunn
  • A bowl of fresh home-canned applesauce.
    Photo by Lori Dunn

If you have an abundance of apples every fall, you know that all of that goodness must be preserved somehow. While homemade pie filling, jelly, jam, juice, and cider are all delicious ways to use up some of the surplus, they're all also high in sugar.

As a busy home-schooling mom, I want the foods I spend my precious time preserving to be versatile and as healthy as possible – foods that can be used in a variety of ways. For instance, something I can pull off the shelf to feed my visiting friend's baby, a healthy dessert option for the diabetic couple from church, and something I can use as is or incorporated into some of our favorite go-to recipes. Applesauce is just the thing.

Aside from the time-consuming job of peeling, applesauce is a pretty quick canning project. It's an efficient and scrumptious way to use up a lot of apples, whether picked fresh from your own trees or purchased from the local orchard, and it's an excellent sweet and healthy treat to serve for dessert when you don't have time to bake something – or when you simply don't want something laden with sugar. Of course, it goes without saying that store-bought versions don't hold a candle to fresh, home-canned applesauce.

Every apple variety has its own specific flavor and texture, and our family is partial to the more tart varieties, such as McIntosh and Red Stayman Winesap. The assortment of choices is vast, and you can be creative in concocting your own flavorful applesauce potpourri to suit your personal taste preferences. If you want, you can even add other fruits, such as pears, cranberries, raspberries, strawberries, or blueberries, or spices like cinnamon or cloves.

When it comes to chunky or smooth, it seems that applesauce connoisseurs have their own preference, much like folks do regarding peanut butter. Whether you like chunks in your applesauce or you prefer it thick and smooth, when you can it yourself, you get to customize just how chunky or smooth your own recipe is.

If you get your apples at an orchard, and they have bruised or end-of-season apples on the cheap, take advantage of the savings, as the flavor of your applesauce will be unaffected.

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