Make Homemade Applesauce Chunky or Smooth

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Homemade Applesauce

Start with Good Apples

Like any good recipe, making your own applesauce starts with finding great apples. If possible, find a local grower. We’re lucky enough to have lived in Michigan, and now in Western North Carolina, where the apple crop is large, but we don’t use just any old apple grower. We searched for a grower who uses little to no chemical pesticides. Apples are high on the dirty dozen list so ask the grower questions about their practices, be selective, and buy in bulk.

Chunky or Smooth

Determine your favorite type of sauce. Do you like chunky or smooth? Personally the smooth stuff reminds me of baby food and makes me gag, so we make chunky.

  1. Chunky applesauce – Get an apple slicer/peeler/corer to process the apples and place them into a large stock pot. Add about an inch of water and some cinnamon (to taste), turn on high heat and begin stirring and mashing with a potato masher. Cook and mash until you reach your desired consistency, then place in jars for canning – or eat fresh. Refer to your canning guide for proper procedure.
  2. Smooth applesauce – Start by coring and quartering the apples with a paring knife. Cook down apples as described above then pour into a chinois sieve and process into a bowl. Pour the pureed apples into jars for canning – or eat fresh. Refer to your canning guide for proper procedure. (You can also use a sauce maker to make smooth applesauce.)

Making smooth applesauce will yield a bit more product because the peeler/corer takes off some of the apple during processing, but if you like chunky better (like us) it’s worth it.

Recommended Canner

A good canner is like a good blender, an investment in your DIY infrastructure. Spending extra for quality is the right thing to do. We purchased an All American 921 pressure canner a few years back and have used it to process well over 100 quarts of delicious, homemade product. A pressure canner can be used to can low acid foods like meat and beans, but also doubles as a hot water bath canner for high acid foods like fruits and tomatoes. The canner we use will process up to 7 quarts or 19 pints per batch and has a 5-star rating from 167 reviews on Amazon – it’s an awesome machine. It’s a 21.5 quart canner and I would not recommend buying anything smaller; if you want larger go with the 30 quart from All American (another 5-star rated canner).

All American canners are made in the USA and come with an instructional booklet, a regulator weight, and canning racks giving you the complete package. Before we bought ours we had never canned a day in our life, we learned from the book so you can too.

Cost and Savings

We paid $13 for 18 quarts of delicious, fresh, homemade applesauce. We know where it came from and what went into it. We supported our local grower who is using practices we agree with. We can eat it through the winter or give it away as gifts. We’re planning to go get another ½ bushel so we can make another 9 quarts to give away as gifts since we’ll need all 18 quarts to last through the winter.

Our applesauce costs just over 2¢/ounce. Comparatively a quart of organic unsweetened applesauce at the store costs just over 9¢/ounce. So we have a better product for less than ¼ of the cost of store-bought. Plus we had a great time doing the project… and you just can’t beat that!


About Matt Jabs

Matt loves to inspire others to save money and live more sustainably. He is passionate about eating local, living simply, and doing more things himself. Connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.

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  1. Chris says

    I agree with you, when making the batch of apple sauce its best to keep the additional flavors to a minimum. All of that can be added (to taste) after the fact.

    I always loved using brown sugar to flavor my apple sauce. Add a teaspoon or so, microwave for a minute to melt the brown sugar and warm up the apple sauce. So good.

      • Chris says

        Yes, our method was similar to your chunky method. Definitely not baby puree.

        I watched the video around a co-worker and he suggested just throwing the apples in whole, cooking them down, and then using and immersion blender to break down.

  2. Karla says

    I know you recommended not going any smaller but we bought a15 1/2 quart All American pressure canner used but in nice condition from ebay. I had wanted a 21 quart but too many people wanted one and so it either got too pricy or I was outbid. But, with the 15 1/2 quart we only paid $106. You said that it can double as a water bath…how so? If that’s the case then I can get rid of my water bath canner and use the space for something else.

    • Matt Jabs says

      You just fill it w/water about 1″ over the jars and put on the lid but leave the weight regulator off. Once steam starts coming out, start your timer for hot water bath times. Once time is up simply turn off heat and remove lid. Viola!

  3. Linda says

    You know with the apple scrapes you can start to make your own Apple Cider Vinegar. I’m going to try that this weekend with my scrapes it looks fairly easy…

  4. Michelle says

    Hi Guys!

    Hubby and I made homemade applesauce two weekends ago but I have a great tip to help reduce costs even more!

    Before going to an orchard check out for homeowners looking to get rid of apples they have growing in their yards. Try placing a “wanted” ad on Craigslist too! Lots of homeowners would jump at the chance to have someone come over and clean the apples that have fallen from the tree. Also you will generally not have to worry about pesticides because most homeowners will not spray 1 or 2 trees in their yard.

    Another good tip is to purchase “utility apples, seconds, or #2” apples. These are always cheaper and perfect for making applesauce. Utility apples are generally apples that are small in size or have a few blemishes.

    Hope this helps!


    • Matt Jabs says

      Great idea Michelle. Just the other day we were hiking through a local park when we stumbled upon 2 apple trees with the sweetest apples. We may just go back and forage those for our next batch. 🙂

      • michelle says

        We were lucky enough to have gotten two bushels full of pears from a neighbors yard. We ended up making pear butter from the pearsauce – which is made exactly like applesauce. I am currently searching for concord grapes to make some grape jam….. With any luck ill find some for free or really cheap since the season is pretty much over! Thanks so much for all of the great tips! I can’t wait to see what’s next!