Apples to Applesauce

Last Friday my mother-in-law (“MIL”) and I canned homemade applesauce. I had never made homemade applesauce before nor had I ever canned before. Luckily she cans applesauce almost every year so she knew exactly what to do. I’ve always wanted to can something so I was excited when she asked me to help her.

I quickly found that canning is a beast of its own so today’s post will just be on the first step: making homemade applesauce. I’ll leave my canning experience for another post.

To make homemade applesauce you need the following ingredients:

Apples – however many you want depending on how much applesauce you want to make. Pick a sweet apple, not a sour apple and you can also combine varieties for different flavors.

Large pot

Food mill, sieve, or potato masher

The preparation is different depending on which tool you use to mash up the apples. The easiest method is to use a food mill or Victoria strainer. If you are using one of these tools all you have to do is chop the apples up into pieces. No peeling or coring necessary. If you are using a sieve or a potato masher, you should peel and core your apples first, then chop into pieces.

Depending on the amount of apples, put 1-2 inches of water in the large pot and heat on high. Put the chopped up apples in the pot and cover. Let the apples cook until they are soft. After awhile I would just poke the apples with a fork or knife to see if they are soft.

Once the apples are finished cooking, remove the pot from heat. If using a Victoria strainer or food mill, load up the top with the apple chunks and crank them through to mush. We used a Victoria strainer which works by pushing the apples through a sieve via a hand crank. The good stuff comes through the sieve and the rest of the junk we don’t want is cranked out the side. See the picture. The applesauce is going into the glass pan and the junk is going into the bowl.

If using a regular sieve, manually push the apples through to mush them. Honestly though if you are doing it manually I think the best tool would be a potato masher. Drain the water out of the apples first then just go to town mashing them in the pot. Remember if you are using a potato masher to peel and core the apples first. If the apples seem dry add a little water or juice to soften them up.

After you have your apple mush (now known as applesauce) you can sweeten and flavor however you desire. If you have good, sweet apples you should not need to add sugar though. At this point you can store your applesauce in the refrigerator for a few days, or freeze it in batches.

My MIL bought a whole bushel of apples. We cooked about 7/8 of them and ended up with 27 pints of applesauce. The pint jars are 16 oz each. Included in the 27 pints was a few pints of strawberry-applesauce which we made by cooking up 16oz of strawberries on the stove in a separate pot and then combining with the apples when mushing it through the Victoria strainer. I would like to try making peach applesauce sometime.

The Economics: My MIL paid $24.50 for a bushel of apples. The prices for apples this year are high since the late frost we had in the spring killed off a lot of the apple crop. If we used approximately 7/8 of the bushel and produced 27 pints of applesauce from the bushel, the cost of the apples is $0.79 per pint of applesauce. A pint jar contains 16oz which makes the price per ounce approximately $0.05. This does not include any costs from packaging, but hopefully you can use reusable containers.

One of my local grocery stores had Musselman’s applesauce on sale this week for $1.19 for 24 oz. That is $0.05 per ounce. The same price as homemade, however you have to catch it on sale.

So is it worth it? I think homemade applesauce is worth it only if you make it in large batches. For a small batch you would only need a few apples from the grocery store and it just wouldn’t be cost effective that way. It’s also a lot of work for just a small yield.

For large batches it’s much more worthwhile in that you can lower your costs by purchasing apples in bulk and also utilize economies of scale. I also think that the Victoria strainer or food mill is a huge time saver in that you don’t have to peel and core the apples first. If you are planning on canning a lot you may consider investing in this piece of equipment.

Taste-wise I think homemade applesauce tastes great. I especially like the strawberry applesauce. I also like how there are no additives or preservatives.

Bottom line: big batches yes, small batches no.


4 thoughts on “Apples to Applesauce

  1. Thank you for your info on applesauce! It has been years since I made it and needed a refresher course, victoria strainer and all. My mom wasn’t even sure it had been so long. I don’t know how old you posted this blog but I bought apples for 14.00 a bushel this year in Ashville, NC. So I can see (thanks to your math) it will be well worth the time. Thanks againSherrie MannNorth Carolina

  2. I have made large batches of applesauce for canning, but my family also enjoys warm applesauce for dinner in the winter months with pork chops and pan-fried potatoes. I use my apple peeler/corer/slicer (crank turns a worm gear–available all over)to prepare three apples, I add three Tablespoons sugar, a dash of cinnamon and 1/3 c water. I put the pan on to simmer before starting the rest of my dinner, and then stir or smash with a potato masher before serving, leaving it a litttle chunky. It is an easy, quick and tasty treat perfect when you need a little comfort food.

  3. Good reminder to make AS this year…best price is to grow your own.If you plant a tree for shade , Why not an Apple? For 40 years I have planted only trees that will give me a return…and I even plant seeds from apples too. They come up and produce…and i live in Colorado zone 4….anyone can do it."The best time to plant a fruit tree was 5 yrs ago and the second best is today" Sally

  4. Hi Danny Darling- I don’t think you’ll do it again, right?Hi Kevin- I used Mac’s but Cortland would be great,too.Hi Mandy- Yep, file this recipe and you will be glad you did. It’s ptrtey amazing on waffles.Hi Patricia- Thanks! Welcome back!Hi Peter- Welcome to UtHC. That was a ptrtey great looking turkey you had going on last week!Hi Zaak- Maybe I can send you a jar. How’s the mail service these days?Hi Valli- This is a good combination of both butters. Not too sweet, not to tart.Hi Winedeb- Thanks! Yes I was surprised at how simple it was. Hopefully it inspires other to make the same.

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