/ / Sugar Free Applesauce {Canning Recipe}

Sugar Free Applesauce {Canning Recipe}

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This healthy unsweetened applesauce recipe is great for maximizing apple season and making a delicious snack for you and your kids. Try this sugar free applesauce recipe and even get tips on water bath canning or freezing to make it last!

jars of applesauce with red apples
Freshly canned jars of homemade applesauce with no added sugar.

I’m thrilled to finally have the pictures taken for this sugar free applesauce recipe! Ever since my son was born I’ve noticed just how much sugar there is in EVERYTHING! It’s a bit outrageous to be honest with you. But thankfully, making an unsweetened version of some of his favorites like applesauce is remarkably easy. Plus it can even be water bath canned, or frozen to make a big batch last longer.

I should be clear about one thing. When I say sugar free, I mean no sugar added. It’s literally impossible (at least for home cooks without crazy equipment) to extract the natural sugars of apples. I imagine that wouldn’t taste very good either. So please, no complaints, it’s just apples and water, it’s as healthy as it gets, and yes, I’m calling it sugar free.

Is Applesauce Healthy?

I have a hard time finding fault with serving my kiddo up a bowl of applesauce when it’s made like this unsweetened version is. It’s just apples! I would argue it’s pretty darn healthy, especially compared to the highly sweetened stuff at the grocery store.

a pile of apples with a small carafe of water

To make sugarless applesauce, you just need apples and tiny amount of water. That’s really, really it!

Of course, to make it extra yummy, you can also add spices like cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, or allspice. I usually just toss a cinnamon stick in there when it’s cooking .

A note quickly on lemon juice…if you’re interested in canning sugar free applesauce for shelf stable storage, you MUST add lemon juice. Don’t worry, it’s not enough to mess with the flavor, but it is essential for making it safe. For freezing, it’s not needed.

The Best Apples for Unsweetened Applesauce

Now I have made versions of this twice a year for a several years now (usually and early fall batch and another with the last of the apples I can get from my farmer’s market before spring.)

But let me tell you, not all apples are super tasty for batches with no added sugar. I love a good granny smith, but whooooeeee, that’s a mouth puckering applesauce without adding sweetener.

For a naturally sweet batch that you and your kiddos will actually want to eat, these are my favorites:

  • Gala Apples – these are the ones I used, and they work beautifully. Sweet and thin skinned is what you’re after.
  • McIntosh Apples – These are actually fantastic…if you can find them. So sweet, and they cook up creamy.
  • Golden Delicious Apples – Sweet and soft, these make a great applesauce with a lovely yellow color.
  • Fuji Apples – These are a little firmer, but still are sweet with a nice thin skin. They may take just a touch longer to cook.

If you’re wondering what the deal is with thin skinned apples, here’s why I recommend them: they don’t require peeling. Applesauce is SO much easier to make when you don’t have to peel, and thin skinned varieties soften and blend well. It often creates a lovely color too.

a spoonful of sugar free applesauce
Unsweetened Gala Applesauce with a naturally pink color from the skins – still silky smooth.

How to Make It – Choose your Method

When it comes to making sugar free applesauce, it doesn’t get much easier than the stovetop in my opinion. I use my big soup pot and dice the apples right into it. Then I pour in the teeniest amount of water, which helps it get steamy fast and a little smoother in my opinion. If I’m adding seasoning, just toss that in too.

diced apples in a pot

Then cook! Put a lid on it, and crank the burner to medium high, until you hear the water simmering, then turn it down to medium low. Stir occasionally to rotate the bottom apples with the top ones. In about 20 minutes you’ll notice them getting really soft. (Don’t take off the lid for long! Natural juice will release and you need it to blend into creamy sauce).

Depending on the size of your batch, this could take 20-40 minutes total. I like to do a nice big batch so I can water bath can or freeze it and don’t have to do it again for a few months.

Once they’re really soft, like break apart with gentle pressure from a spoon soft, they’re ready to blend. You can use an immersion blender, but I usually use my Ninja blender to make quick work and get ultra creamy results. Any blender will do the job. Just remember, hot food expands in the blender, so work in batches.

Apples ready for blending
Keep the lid on your apples to keep all the natural moisture in there, it makes the creamiest applesauce!

If you’re not interested in stirring occasionally at the stove, use your slow cooker or Crock pot instead. It will take a few hours though. Just pop it all in there on low for 5-6 hours, or until the apples are very soft, then blend.

How to Can Sugar Free Applesauce

I always use my water bath canning pot and tools to make it safe to keep in my cupboard. Once I open a jar, I just pop it into my fridge for up to 1 month, but it usually doesn’t last longer than a week.

You can get the specific details for how to do it in my detailed water bath canning guide, but here are a few key tips for unsweetened applesauce:

  • Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice with the water to raise the acidity level and make it safe to can. (This is debated, but I prefer safe over sorry).
  • I use 16 ounce, or pint size jars, and that requires 15 minutes of canning in rapidly boiling water. Don’t start your timer until the lid is on the canner, and the water is bubbling.
  • Let the jars cool completely before storing – the seal can take up to 24 hours to ‘pop’.
  • Store them for up to 1 year in a dark cool place (your pantry or cupboards are fine, but generally not next to the stove.
  • With the amount shared in this recipe, I got 6 pint size jars, so roughly 96 ounces.
canning applesauce

Of course, you can also freeze it. Just ladle it into jars and leave 1 inch of headspace to allow for expansion. Freeze with lids off and then seal the jars and keep them for up to 1 year. You could also use reusable silicone bags, or freeze them into popsicle molds and store blocks into a big bag to make portioning super easy.

Enjoy it for months – in many ways!

Once you see how easy it is, you’ll love making homemade applesauce too. There are heaps of benefits aside from being made with no added sugar.

I love that I can choose the apple that goes into it, and if you just keep an eye out for sales, one batch is easily cheaper than buying the equivalent amount of store bought stuff.

I got those organic galas for $0.99 a pound, and made the equivalent for 4 big jars. 10lbs for 10$, and the jars of organic stuff would have cost me closer to $20. Not a bad deal!

Plus when you have them ready to go, you can open one up for a healthy snack, a delicious sauce for pork, or bake with it! Check out these tasty recipes for some inspiration on using unsweetened applesauce, and I hope you really enjoy it!

sugar free applesauce on a spoon

Sugar Free Applesauce {Canning Recipe}

Print Recipe
A silky smooth, healthy applesauce recipe made with no added sugar and no peeling required.
Prep Time:20 mins
Cook Time:30 mins
Canning Time (optional):15 mins

Ingredients

  • 10 pounds apples* 20 cups cored & diced
  • 8 ounces water

If Canning

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Instructions

  • Dice the apples into cubes and add it to a large pot with the water, and lemon juice if using.
  • Cover and heat over medium high until you hear the water begin to bubble.
  • Reduce to low and simmer for 20-40 minutes, stirring every 5 or so to move the bottom apples to the top.
  • When the apples are very soft to the touch, puree with an immersion blender or by transferring to a blender.*

If CANNING

  • Ladle hot applesauce into hot, clean pint sized jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace.
  • Wipe the rims clean and place on new seals. Tighten bands as much as you can by hand, using hand protection to handle hot jars.
  • Lower into a pot of rapidly boiling water fitted with a canning rack and place the lid on. The jars must be covered by 1" of water.
  • Let the jars process for 15 minutes, then remove and allow to cool completely before storing.*

Notes

*Use thin skinned, sweet apples for best flavor and quickest prep time. Peeling is optional.
*You can also mash with a potato masher, but the texture will not be as smooth. I recommend peeling the apples if you go this route.
*If you’re new to canning, please refer to my water bath canning guide for more detailed steps and information on how to can.

Nutrition

Serving: 4ounces | Calories: 98kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 2mg | Potassium: 203mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 102IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 12mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Condiment, Snack
Cuisine: American
Keyword: apples, canning, fall, home preserves, winter
Servings: 24 Servings
Calories: 98kcal
Author: Mikayla M

Nutrition information and cooking times are provided as a best estimate. Values may vary based upon ingredients and equipment.

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