Home canned apples

I can most of the apples our trees produce. It’s easy to turn canned apples into apple pie filling, apple crumble or my Apple Cinnamon Cake.

This recipe is adapted from the National Center for Home Food Preservation

How many pounds of apples per quart

For every quart of canned apples, you’ll need 2.5 pounds of raw apples. Use that number to either plan how many apples you’ll need to buy or grow to put up all the apples you want. Or use 2.5 pounds of apples per quart to figure out how many quarts you’ll be able to can from the apples you have on hand.

That’s not an exact number, by the way, since the moisture content of apple will affect weight and volume. But it will give you a ballpark.

To can four quarts of spiced apples

  •  10-12 pounds of apples – gala or honeycrisp are my two favorites, but any firm apple is great. You can use a combination of apples.
  • 48 ounces of water
  • 2 cups of granulated sugar*
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • .5 teaspoon of allspice
  • .25 teaspoon of ground cloves
  • .5 teaspoon of powdered ginger
  • .5 cup of lemon juice (keeps the apples from discoloring)

Peel, core and slice or chunk the apples. Blanch for 1-2 minutes, then drain and set aside. Blanching the apples will help them stay firm.

In a large stock pot, bring the sugar to a low boil. Add the spices and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Then add the apples and lemon juice. Bring to a boil.

Once the mixture is boiling, it’s time to pack the canning jars.

Canning apples to use in recipes

If you’ve read any of my other posts on canning, you’ll know I rely on it for food preparation as much as food preservation. Apples are no exception. I can apples to use in baking recipes later. Knowing that, I stick with pretty traditional spices and I don’t add a ton. Remember that you can always add more sugar or spices to the apples when you add them to a recipe. If you don’t care for one of the spices, just leave it out or use less. You can also omit the spices entirely but I think the flavor of the apples develops nicely when they’re canned with some spice. Add cornstarch or other thickening agents to the apples for heavy pie filling when you’re adding them to the recipe.

*This sugar-water ratio makes a light syrup. The sugar is just there for sweetness so you can more or leave some out if you wish. I can apples with a light syrup because it leaves me more options when I use the apples. Technically, it’s safe to can apples in plain water, so you don’t need to use sugar at all if you don’t want to.

Speaking of canning….these are the best canning books and books about food preservation

The All New Ball Book is my favorite canning book. In addition to providing sound instruction, it has really interesting recipes and it offers guidance on how to use the food you’ve canned in other recipes.

If you only buy one canning book, that’s the one I recommend. Click on any of the books to order your own copy through Bookshop. Buying from Bookshop means I receive an affiliate credit (at no cost to you), which helps cover the costs of producing content. Bookshop robustly supports local, independent bookstores.

Jars of home canned apple chunks

Is it better to hot pack apples or cold pack apples?

Hot pack canning simply means the contents of the jar are boiling before they’re put into the jar. When cold packing, the raw ingredients go into the jar and then boiling liquid is added. Many fruits and vegetables can be hot or cold packed safely but the final quality can be seriously affected. It’s not recommended to cold pack apples as the texture of the finished product isn’t good.

Using a water bath canner for the apples

Put your canning rack in your water bath canner (or large stock pot). Fill the canner and bring the water to a boil.

Wash the jars, lids* and bands in hot, soapy water. Rinse thoroughly, then keep warm. I usually just pop my clean, warm jars in the oven on ‘keep warm’.

Use wide mouth quart jars for this. They’re easier to fill.

How to reduce liquid loss when canning

Siphoning is what happens when your full jar comes out of the canner less full. All jars lose some amount of liquid during processing. While it’s not possible avoid siphoning entirely, it’s important to limit it. Often, siphoning happens because there is air trapped somewhere in the jar. Every canning recipe will tell you to pop any air bubbles you see in the jar, and this is a very important step. But sometimes the air is trapped in the food itself. Blanching the apples (in this case) helps them release some air before packing.

Another great way to keep trapped air from stealing liquid is to let the solid food sit in the jar for a couple of minutes, then very lightly press the contents. Do this as gently as you can, the goal is to help trapped air release before processing, not to smash the food. You’ll likely see air bubbles race to the surface. Let the food settle back down, pop any lingering air bubbles, then re-check the headspace. If it’s dropped, top the jar back off and do a final round of bubble popping.

Speaking of headspace, make sure each jar filled correctly to the level mentioned in the recipe. Even a fraction of an inch can cause issues with internal pressure and lead to increased siphoning.

Filling the jars

Ladle the warm apples and their syrup into the jars. Leave 1/2 of headspace at the top. Use a headspace gauge or a bubble popper to remove any air bubbles. Put on the lid and band. Place the jars in the canner and bring the water to a hard boil. The jars need to be covered by at least two inches of water.

Processing the jars

Once the water is boiling, put the lid on and process for 20 minutes. For more detailed instructions of water bath canning and processing apples (including altitude variations), please visit the National Center for Home Food Preservation.

After processing is complete, let the jars sit in the water for a few minutes, then carefully remove them to a dry surface. Let them sit for 24 hours. If you only buy one canning tool, make it a jar lifter. They’re cheap and they will make transferring hot jars a million times easier and safer. If you buy two canning tools, treat yourself to a canning funnel. For more information, see Essential Canning Tools.

*If you’re using Tattler reusable lids, follow their instructions. More about Canning with Reusable Lids.

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Resources to help you can food safely, efficiently and economically

is canning worth it?
canning supplies
printable canning planner
how to save money on canning