This post will share an easy homemade applesauce recipe that you can preserve in jars with the traditional water bath instructions OR the steam canning directions. I’ll also share my favorite jars for lunch box size portions of this healthy snack!
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My daughter started kindergarten this year and about six months ago she had a terrible bout of dental cavities that meant that 1) she got her father’s teeth (I have ZERO cavities) and 2) I began my process to find foods that were not the normal highly processed lunch box fare like Goldfish crackers and graham crackers. Those fine flours stick in the crevices of little teeth and cause more carries so those items are never making it into my shopping cart, not even in a rush or special occasion.
Homemade applesauce is something that is easy to make, fast (only 10 minutes in the canning process and there’s an easy trick to skipping peeling and coring I’ll explain in a moment) and you can skip the sugar entirely especially if you have sweet apples on hand.
Everyone always asks at this part of my applesauce story if the jar is hard to open for a kindergardener. The answer is that I crack the seal the night before when I put her lunch together, screw the ring back on, and put it in her backpack. She’s had no trouble– but she has had to ask for help opening her string cheese, tying her shoe, and remembering her jacket. The jars are easy 🙂
It bears mentioning that canning jar glass is really sturdy, free from BPA, and the small jars especially tend to hold up really well. The only jars I ever break are the big ones 🙂
Download the PDF of the applesauce recipe with steam canning AND water bath directions for free here!
Gather your canning equipment, if you plan to can it (I promise its such a quick step) and you can grab my canning equipment checklists right here!
Jars that are perfect for applesauce:
Okay, so my mother would have never canned these tiny jars because in her mind, it might have taken longer. I’m not my mother 😉 This step of canning in smaller jars saves me SO much time when I’m really rushed packing lunch that it is TOTALLY worth it.
I canned in these half pint jars, which are 8 ounces, and my kindergartener can eat one easily, if she’s hungry.
I also canned in these little 4 ounce jars which I love for when I have a variety of things in the lunchbox and the applesauce isn’t a main part of the meal.
Here’s how you skip peeling and coring the apples. Chop them, remove worms or bad spots, and cook until soft as the directions explain. Use this food mill (my all time favorite tool) to puree them. The mill keeps the skins and seeds and cores up top in the hopper and the sauce just falls through in minutes below. They are super easy to use and clean and are fun way to include kids in the process. I love love love the food mill.
Here’s how to make healthy homemade applesauce
You will need
8 cups apples, washed and chopped, stems, cores, and seeds may remain
water to cover- at least 8 cups
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons real maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
**for baby food, omit all but apples and water, and use 4 ounce jelly jars.
1. Prepare your water bath canning pot or your steam canner. Fill the water bath canning pot with water, add 8 half pint (1 measuring cup total) jars, and bring to a boil OR fill the steam canner to fill line and turn on low with 10-11 pint jars nearby on a towel-covered counter top.
2. Combine apples and water and simmer together in a preserving pan (a heavy bottomed, wide pan) and stir occasionally for 30 minutes or until apples are very soft.
3. Puree: Remove from heat and ladle into a food mill. OR apples could be peeled and cored prior, and mashed with a potato masher.
4.Return apples to a boil, add sugar, maple syrup, vanilla, and cinnamon.
Cook for 5 minutes.
5. Ladle into jars one at a time, apply lids and rings, and either submerge into the boiling water of the boiling water bath with a jar lifter OR set gently on the rack of the steam canner.
6. Process for 10 minutes PLUS 5 minutes for every 1000 ft above sea level. Remove from heat, rest jars carefully on towel covered countertop. Label cooled jars and store for up to 1 year.
Yields about 10 cups of applesauce.
Download the free recipe PDF here!
This little recipe has been so valuable- now, I have a healthy, homemade go-to for lunches that won’t get stuck in her teeth and cause dreaded cavities.
I wrote a blog post last week about the 5 Recipes Perfect for Kids and I think you’ll love it.
Head over to read it, or grab the 5 Recipes PDF here!