skins-on applesauce to freeze, can, and share

Homemade skins-on applesauce to freezeMY FAMILY CALLS IT ‘PO SAUCE, with the “po” representing the last syllable of the word “apple,” the way my beloved niece pronounced it when she was small. One fall weekend, as I hurtled by to give a lecture out their way, I met my brother-in-law at Exit 9 off I-90 to deliver the first load of Pink ‘Po Sauce that started life on my century-old trees. Sigh of relief: 11 quarts and 5 pints moved from my freezer to theirs.

Another day that year, my friend Katrina filled the back of her car with my apples, heading home to cook them up, and many neighbors have been the recipients of boxes of apples, apples and more apples, too. It’s applesauce time, and here’s how that goes:

winter view with apple 2Bountiful rains put regional 2013 apple crops—including fruit on my handful of ancient trees that I do not spray (that’s a 40-foot-wide one out back, above)—at bumper levels. The 2015 season didn’t feature much rain, but the apples were crazy-plentiful, after a 2014 when I had almost none. In 2016, almost a total bust, after a non-winter and a very dry whole year. Neighbors with old trees had none, either; I bought several bushels in for the first time ever. And so it went: bumper 2017; smallish 2018 crop, so-so in 2019…

My 125-plus-year -old standard-sized trees are too tall to pick from, so I simply cull the windfalls, dumping any runts or chewed-on ones into the woods for deer and other animals, and taking wheelbarrow loads of good ones over to the kitchen door.

Katrina adds raspberries to her sauce for a beautiful, vivid color and flavor, like this (her recipe for “Time in a Bottle,” as she calls it). Those lucky apples of mine who got to go home with her, huh?

apples waiting for cookingpink ‘po pauce, the easy way


  • apples
  • water


  • Wash apples (a vegetable brush will help).
  • Cut apples into large chunks; discard cores. Cut out any major blemishes or bruises if needed.
  • Fill a spaghetti pot three-quarters full of big apple chunks. Why don’t I fill the pot to the brim with fruit? I find that making slightly smaller batches reduces the inclination for sticking or burning, but if you promise to stir every 5 or 7 minutes, go ahead and fill to the top.
  • Add 1 or 1-1/2 cups of water to start, to just barely cover the bottom of the pot. The amount of water you’ll need eventually depends on the apples’ own juiciness, and also whether you plan to puree later with peels still in the mix as I do, which thickens the sauce. You can add more water after cooking if desired for a thinner sauce.
  • Cover and get the water bubbling fast with high heat, then lower heat to medium-low and allow the fruit to sort of steam in the water and their own juices.
  • Remove lid only to stir every 5 or 7 minutes. As things soften, both stir periodically and also mash gently with a slotted metal spoon or a potato masher. Lower the heat to low as things soften to a mush.
  • Cook, continuing regular stirring, until thoroughly soft, which may take a total of 25-45 minutes start to finish. Each variety and ripeness level of apple will vary in cooking time (and again: in water required).
  • Want smooth sauce, instead of chunky? Once off the heat and cooled down, use an immersion blender (a stick-shaped hand type) to puree in the metal cooking pot if desired. Why have to clean your blender jar–the immersion blender is the best tool ever for pureed one-pot soups and sauces.
  • Ladle sauce into recycled quart yogurt containers, or into wide-mouth, straight-sided glass canning jars, leaving ample headroom for expansion. Straight-sided jars are less likely than jars with “shoulders” to break in the freezer as their contents expand.

Yes, I know: You can quarter the apples, then use a paring knife to core each quarter.  But I have enough apples for four armies, so I use one knife only, the chef’s size, and simply make four cuts, leaving the core intact to discard (as below).

Cutting up apples for sauceYou could peel them, too, but then you won’t get pink sauce (and besides, fiber is a good thing, no?).

You could get rid of the peels after cooking, with a food mill or sieve. But again, why?

You can add sugar, brown sugar, honey, spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg, or even those raspberries the way Katrina does, remember?  Me? I keep it simple. Depending what I use the sauce with later on, I might dress it up accordingly, but usually just apples and a little water works for me.

  • Prefer the Crockpot or Instant Pot? Go for it, overnight, according to your appliance’s directions.

running out of freezer space?

RUNNING OUT of freezer space?  Canning applesauce in a boiling-water bath is fine (presuming you have the right gear and follow the rules!).

The classic “Stocking Up” canning guide from Rodale recommends 4 pounds of apples; a cup of water; a half-cup of honey; optional cloves, nutmeg or cinnamon. Also optional (to “brighten” the flavor of too-sweet apples if desired) is a quarter-cup of fresh lemon juice. Ladle cooked hot sauce into scalded pint jars and process for 20 minutes, they say. Another option in that recipe: to leave the skins in or food-mill them out.

The National Center for Home Food Preservation peels their fruit (for a more standard product like store-bought, my expert friend Theresa Loe says, not because of food-safety worries) and processes 15 minutes for pints and 20 minutes for quarts, like this.

Or just meet your brother-in-law at the side of the highway with 11 quarts or so (that delivery, below, in recycled goat yogurt containers). That will free up some room, admittedly while overstocking his.

Applesauce ready to deliver to my family.


  1. Deborah B says:

    I use an apple corer, like the one made by OXO. Just press it down over the top of the apple, and bam! You have the core removed and the apple cut into 8 wedges. It’s faster than making the 4 cuts to core the apple like you show above. Then it’s easy to cut out any bad places and throw the rest into the pot.
    We found an old wooden cider press at a yard sale last year, and are planning to try that out this year also.

    1. Bernadette Moore says:

      I have my mother’s fruit press passed down to me and tried to press the apples after coring and cutting them and crushing them while in a large pot with a heavy marble “stick” to crush the apples. Then I put them back in the fruit press in a chesscloth and cranked as hard as I could. I did get some juice but found alot of apples still whole. I did not have as much success with this as cooking the apples first slightly to get them to a soft consistancy and then I put them through my fruit /vegetable strainer/grinder (hand cranked) and had a beautiful apple sauce. I also made apple juice with a fruit juicer with good success as well. This was easier than the fruit press. Good luck. Bernadette Moore NJ

  2. Morgan says:

    I also have a freezer brimming with yogurt containers full of applesauce. :) Question – I don’t even bother coring them because I do use the food mill. Is there any real safety concern with the seeds being cooked in the pot and then food milled out?

  3. Burndett Andres says:

    Dear Margaret, I do it exactly (almost) like you do, skins and all, with apples that have fallen from my 100+ year old tree. Only difference is I usually cook them in unpasteurized apple cider rather than water. I use the chunky ‘sauce’ to moisten muffins, etc. all year long. I think our old tree is a “Cherryfield” Apple tree, but the mature apples come in a wide range of colors – some all green, some with a blush, some quite red, some ‘striped’ – so I’ve never been entirely sure what it is. It’s a curious thing – very interesting…and delicious.

    1. Bernadette Moore says:

      Be careful with the unpasteurized cider. These are apples I have read that may have been walked on by deer and left droppings. I’ve read articles of people getting sick from this. Get a fruit juicer and juice some of the apples yourself for your sauce. It’s quick and healthier. Good Luck
      Bernadette Moore NJ

    2. Jan says:

      I toss in a few tablespoons of Red Hots (the cinnamon candy from my childhood) to the apples as they cook, adding cinnamon flavor and increasing the pink blush.

  4. Diane says:

    Green Tomato Chutney Time!
    2 1/2 pounds firm green tomatoes (about 7 cups, cored and chopped)
    1 1/4 cups brown sugar. 1 cup chopped onion. 1 cup golden raisins. 1 cup cider vinegar. 2 Tbsp candied ginger. 1 Tbsp mustard seed. 1 teaspoon chili pepper flakes. 1 teaspoon fennel seeds. 1 teaspoon salt. 1/2 teaspoon allspice. 1 cinnamon stick. 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves. pinch ground nutmeg. 6 8 ounce canning jars with lids. Place all ingredients in med. pot bring to boil then reduce to simmer covered for 45 minutes.Stir occasionally. Fill hot sterilized jars to 1/4 inch from top with hot chutney. Wipe rims then place sterilized lids on jars. Secure with canning rings. Place in hot water bath and process for 15 minutes.

    1. margaret says:

      Good idea, Diane. I used to make green tomato and apple “mincemeat” aka chutney. No meat! You are making me think I should again…

    2. Bernadette Moore says:

      I recently made a green tomato and apple chutney. Basically the same recipe but just add some apples in the tomatoes.
      Bernadette Moore NJ

  5. Carole Clarin says:

    Unfortunately I don’t have any apple trees but that doesn’t stop me from making applesauce. I have always just rinsed and put the whole apples in a large pot with a very small amount of water since the apples seem to release so much liquid-I usually use Empire. (Started doing this as a kindergarten teacher.). For the last few years I’ve been adding 1 or 2 cinnamon sticks-really yummy! The only hard part is using my food mill to create the right consistency and remove the seeds but this year I will try removing the core first and using my immersion blender-more gentle or my sore muscles!

  6. Christine says:

    I have never seen such an apple year! I will be making my Granny’s pink sauce (so much like yours) in waves over the next couple weeks. My gnarly old trees look like yours. I love them.

  7. Sharon says:

    When making my chunky apples (some sauce), I don’t add water – just cook apples down adding some brown sugar and cinnamon, then can. . Love them with biscuits for breakfast or as a side dish with pork and sauerkraut. I’ve been using Mutsu the last few years.

  8. Sheryl at Providence Acres says:

    I make apple sauce with the peel on too. It adds a more flavour, fiber and nutrients and makes it pink. I strain them out after mashing up the cooked apples. It’s so much easier than peeling!

    I live on an orchard so have boxes of apples in the fall, as many as I can possible handle. Thankfully, they are not all ripe at the same time so I don’t have to process them all in one week!

    We grow MacIntosh, Gala and red Delicious apples. All make good sauce. I also make apple jelly with them and freeze some for pies.

  9. Betsy says:

    I make applesauce using Staymen apples. I do use a food mill to remove the skins and I add freshly grated nutmeg. This applesauce is so good. I have this for breakfast with a little wheat germ sprinkled on top.

  10. Amy K says:

    For years have simply quartered unpeeled apples , cooked with. a little water or cider, and run through foley food mill for delicious apple sauce. Throw in a couple of cinnamon sticks while cooking and sweetener of choice to taste. My grandmothers trick was to cook a couple of very red plums in the mixture to get the rosy pink sauce!

  11. Jen Johnson says:

    We too have 100 year old apple trees on our property. You should definitely seek out a cider press – we were told apple trees this old were likely meant for cider, not dessert apples.

    For applesauce we do similarly to you (skins on, simple cuts) but use the microwave. Add water (optional lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, raspberries), mic for 5 minutes uncovered, stir, mic for 5 minutes more, puree (I use a food processor). Probably not as good for large volumes, but really simple and quick for making a small batch.

  12. Awesome post, thank you. I always use a food mill to remove the skins, and we LOVE our applesauce that way. However, I read that most of the nutrition (and virtually all the fiber) is in the peels. Soooo, I’m going to be brave and try it your way. Wish me luck! :)

    1. margaret says:

      I think you will like it, Andrea. Sometimes I don’t even puree it afterward with the immersion blender…and eat it “chunky”…and some batches I do blend up, but skins in the mix.

      1. Just finished! The kids ate some for lunch and they liked it! The texture is definitely different than my milled applesauce, but I can’t tell the skins are in there. The different texture may have to do with the type of apples (they were drier than what I’m used to using). I added a bit of honey and cinnamon at the end of blending (normally we don’t add a single thing, but again, these were different apples). Glad to have this method in our bag of tricks, thanks again! :)

  13. For years I cooked applesauce the way you do. About 10 years ago I started baking apples in roaster pans, covered with a lid or foil, with just a little bit of water. It takes about the same amount of time as boiling, but imparts a much richer flavor to the apples. With ripe apples, sugar is often not necessary, but we love a little cinnamon, nutmeg, etc. Two roasting pans give me enough applesauce to fill one canner which frees up space in the freezer for other goodies.

  14. Mary Ann Baclawski says:

    I make a lot of applesauce because we have discovered that e can replace the fat/oil in bread recipes with applesauce. Now we eat no-fat breads.

  15. My hundred year old apple trees are Gravenstines and they ripen about the same time as the blackberries. I use a steamer juicer to cook the apples. While they are steaming I pick the berries. By then the apples have settled enough to put the berries on top and steam them until they juice. I then put the juice in hot jars to seal. I then put the pulp through a mill and I get a dark red apple butter which I either can or freeze.

  16. Kat says:

    I think there is something toxic in the seeds, so I always core the apples first. The oxo coring device sounds like the proper tool. Also our organic apples are so sweet, we never add any sweetener, just exceptional cinnamon from Penzey’s Spices (online). Just cooking some today.

  17. Carolyn magnani says:

    My daughter has made her apple sauce using a crockpot so I tried that this year and will always use this method in the future. I can make apple sauce and get my garden winterized at the same time. My crockpot is large.

  18. Marcia says:

    Thank goodness for the BIG pasta pot !!
    Our 10+ trees have given us many milk crates of fruit.
    All different !!..But this year they all came at the same time.
    This is the first time they are NOT buggy or blemished.
    Frank is continually cutting and I keep cooking and blending…
    I find the hand/immersible stick blender works great .
    I keep changing ..cinnamon stick (always), nutmeg, lemon etc…
    Next batch I will add dried cranberries.
    I am running out of freezer space.
    Beside containers I am using ‘zip lock’ freezer bags.
    I have no patience for ‘canning’.
    My guests will get lots of applesauce for breakfast this year.
    Thanks for all the tips from this blog !
    Well back to the pot !
    Regards, Marcia

  19. Marcie says:

    Grew up on homemade applesauce put through a Foley food mill. Mom would change it up weekly during the winter months – sometimes a chunked up lemon would simmer in the sieved sauce, other times she’d throw in a handful of Red Hots. We’d always yearn for that first bowl of warmth! And it’s especially yummy on top of cheddar cheese on toast.

    I’ve been roasting many recipes lately (tomato sauce, apple butter) for that added deep flavor so I think my next batch of applesauce will be tried that way! Thank you for sharing and bringing back those memories.

  20. Sue Ellen DeCesare says:

    I am from the great state of Ohio (The Buckeye State) and it is an old wives tale to put a couple of buckeyes in your glove compartment to keep you safe. Looks like you have plenty to spare for that and they make nice decorations added to other fall things.
    My family loves applesauce and thanks for getting me going with making some for the freezer.

    Sue Ellen

  21. kathleen Gallagher says:

    I make apple- butter from an old family recipe. When my Irish ancestors made it in a giant black cauldron on the front lawn of their home they threw in a silver dollar to ward off any evil spirits. I leave out the silver dollar but think of my grandmother every time I make it.
    I love your tree too.

  22. Marie says:

    Making applesauce has been a tradition in my husbands family forever.
    We all go to the local apple orchard, kids, grownups, everyone and pick a load of apples then all gather in the kitchen to cook and all the kids take turns using the food mill. One extra special “secret” ingredient that the Lamberts, use is “Vanilla” just a little. Yummy–
    Thanks for this website. Your books are on my Christmas list.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.