If you are new to canning, I can’t think of anything easier to learn on than applesauce! It’s frugal (if you buy the apples in season), versatile (great as a side to any meal), and very forgiving.
Homemade pearsauce follows the same technique. I happened to have some over-ripe pears hanging around when I photographed this tutorial, so that is what you’ll see in the photos. However, if you are using apples, simply follow the same steps.
When you are ready to try your hand at pressure canning, be sure to check out the How to Use a Pressure Canner series. It will give you all the info you need to can low-acid foods, without blowing anything up…
And don’t forget my Six Tips for No-Stress Canning. I still follow these tips every time I pull out one of my canners.
Let’s do this!
Homemade Canned Applesauce or Pearsauce
- Apples or Pears- The quantity is up to you. I like to use sweeter fruit so I don’t have to add additional sugar- but if you have more sour apples or pears on hand, then you can always play around with added sweeteners.
- Sugar/Sweetener- try honey, sucanat, or plain ol’ white sugar (optional)
- Cinnamon/Spices- (optional)
It depends on how much prep time your food requires, but I recommend filling your canner with water right away and get it to boiling as soon as possible. Make sure you place the lid on top of the canner, as that will greatly reduce the amount of time it takes it to boil.
When canning with the water bath technique, the jars first must be sterilized. I like to sterilize my jars right in the canner. You can also run them through a cycle in the dishwasher, but my dishwasher always seems to be full… According to the Ball Blue Book, they need to be heated for at least 10 minutes, completely submerged. Keep the jars in the hot water until you are ready to fill them– it’s important that they stay hot right up until the food is placed inside.
Gather all of your supplies and have them ready. Take inventory of your rings and lids, making sure you have matching sets of each. I also like to have a kitchen towel ready that I can place the hot jars on. I have a canning funnel, magnetic lid lifter, and jar tongs. They aren’t absolutely necessary, but if you plan to can a lot, then they are worth spending a couple extra bucks on.
Fill a small saucepan with water and add your lids. They need to be heated to a simmer, but not a full boil. All you are doing is heating up the sealing compound so it’s pliable and sticky. You don’t have to put this on the stove until a bit later, but it’s best to have it ready.
Prep your fruit. If you are using pears, quarter them, core them, and remove any bad spots. No need to remove the peels, they’ll disappear into the sauce.
If you are using apples, you can peel them if you like, but it’s not necessary. I’ve made several batches, peels and all, and we don’t mind it a bit. It saves a bunch of work as well. You will want to core them and slice them more thinly than the pears so they don’t take forever to cook down.
Or, if you have a food mill (I don’t…), you can run the fruit through that to save you some work.
(Psst. Don’t forget to save the peelings and scraps for the goats/chickens/pigs/compost pile. They will love you forever.)
Throw all of your prepped fruit into a large pot. Add just enough water to keep them from sticking to the pan. (Not too much, or your sauce will be on the runny side…) Cook the apples or pears until they are soft. It doesn’t take long. If you like, you can add cinnamon or other spices at this point, although I usually prefer to wait to spice it until I serve it.
The next step depends on your preference. If you like thick, chunky sauce, use a fork or potato masher to mash the cooked fruit in the pot until it reaches the desired consistency. If you prefer your sauce smooth, then use a hand blender (one of my favorite kitchen tools!), to puree everything right in the pot. (If you don’t have a hand blender, use a food processor instead.)
Bring the mashed/pureed sauce to a boil.
While you are waiting, remove the hot jars from the canner and place on the waiting towel. Also, now is a good time to bring those lids to a gentle simmer.
Carefully ladle the sauce into the hot jars, leaving 1/2″ headspace.
1/2″ headspace means that the sauce will fill the jar only to the bottom of the “lip.” It’s very important to pay attention to headspace when you’re canning. It allows for expansion/contraction, and sometimes the jars will not seal if the headspace is incorrect.
Wipe the rims with a damp cloth to remove any spilled sauce that might prevent the lid from sealing.
Use your handy dandy lid lifter to place the heated lids in the center of the jar.
Then, screw on the rings- finger tight only!
Lower them into the canner, making sure that the lids are covered with 1-2 inches of water. (You can add more water to the pot if you come up short.) Process pints and quarts for 20 minutes at a vigorous boil.
Keep in mind that you may have to adjust your processing time according to your altitude. We are over 6,000 feet, so I added an additional 10 minutes, which made my total processing time 30 minutes. Remember: Don’t start timing until the water has returned to a boil.
After their time in the water bath is complete, pull them out and allow to cool. You should start hearing that happy “pop!” of a sealed lid. I love that sound…
Homemade applesauce makes an awesome side dish, a nutritious snack, is perfect for adding to baked goods, and is also an ideal baby food.
To me, the best part of canning (besides the eating, of course!) is lining up all of your finished jars on the counter and being able to admire them for a day or two before storing them in the pantry. It’s such a satisfying feeling for a food nerd like me…
Ready for more canning adventures?
- The How to Use a Pressure Canner Series
- How to Can Chokecherry Jelly (low sugar & honey variations!)
- How to Make Raw Strawberry Freezer Jam (you don’t have to actually even can to rock this one!)
- Six Tips for No-Stress Canning
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