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How do you can apples for later use?

Canning apples allows you to enjoy their flavor all year long. With some simple equipment and ingredients, you can preserve apples to use in pies, crisps, cakes, jams, sauces, and more. Here is a step-by-step guide to canning apples at home.

Why Can Apples?

Canning apples provides several advantages:

  • Enjoy apple flavor year-round – Canned apples give you access to ripe, in-season apple flavor during the fall and winter when fresh apples are out of season.
  • Make delicious recipes – Use canned apple slices or sauce to make apple pie, jam, chutney, muffins, pancakes, and more.
  • Save money – Preserving apples from your own trees or bought in bulk at the peak of the season can save money versus buying packaged applesauce.
  • Control ingredients – Canning your own apples allows you to control the amount of sugar and spices used.
  • Make great gifts – Homemade canned apple sauce and slices make thoughtful, homemade gifts for others.

Choosing Apples for Canning

When selecting apples to can, prioritize apples that:

  • Hold their shape during cooking – Varieties like Fuji, Honeycrisp, Jonathan, McIntosh, and Golden Delicious maintain their form when cooked.
  • Have a balanced sweet-tart flavor – Sweeter apples like Red Delicious, Gala, Jonagold, and Braeburn pair well with more tart apples like Granny Smith.
  • Have a firm flesh – Apples with a crisp, dense texture retain that texture better during canning versus mealy varieties.

Avoid apples with bruises, damage, or decay, as those areas can contain harmful bacteria. Combining sweeter and more tart apples creates a well-balanced canned product.

Ingredients and Equipment for Canning Apples

Canning apples requires some specialized canning equipment for a safe, shelf-stable finished product. Assemble these items before you begin:


  • Canning jars with lids and bands (mason jars)
  • Canning rack
  • Water bath canner or large pot with lid
  • Jar lifter
  • Funnel
  • Bubble removal tool
  • Clean towels


  • Apples
  • Water
  • White sugar
  • Spices like cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg (optional)
  • Ascorbic acid or lemon juice to prevent browning (optional)

The exact amount of each ingredient depends on whether you are canning apple slices, chunks, sauce, or applesauce and the quantity you are preparing.

Step-by-Step Canning Apple Process

Follow these steps for safe, shelf-stable canned apples.

1. Select fresh, undamaged apples

Start with firm, ripe apples without any bruises, holes, or decay. Sort through the apples, removing any damaged portions. Thoroughly wash the apples.

2. Prepare the apples

Peel, core, and slice the apples into the desired shape and size. Slices are typically between 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Keep slices in water with a bit of lemon juice or ascorbic acid to prevent browning.

For apple sauce, peel and chop the apples into chunks, but do not pre-cook them.

3. Make the syrup

The sweet syrup helps the apples hold their shape and infuses them with flavor. Combine the desired amount of sugar and water in a pan and bring to a boil to create the syrup. Allow it to boil for 5 minutes. The amount of sugar determines the syrup density:

Syrup Type Sugar Water
Very Light 1 cup 4 cups
Light 2 cups 4 cups
Medium 3 cups 4 cups
Heavy 4 cups 4 cups

Add any desired spices like cinnamon, allspice, or nutmeg to the boiling syrup.

4. Fill the jars

Place the apple slices or chunks into the mason jars and pour the hot syrup over the fruit, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Release any air bubbles with a bubble tool. Add more syrup if needed to maintain the headspace.

For apple sauce, simply ladle the cooked applesauce into the jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. No syrup is used.

5. Wipe jar rims

Wipe the rims of the filled jars with a clean, damp cloth to remove any food residue or syrup. Food debris can prevent an airtight seal.

6. Apply lids and bands

Place lids on each jar and secure with a band, tightening to finger-tip tightness. Do not overtighten.

7. Process the jars

Place the filled jars on a canning rack in a water bath canner or large pot filled with enough warm water to cover the tops of the jars by 1-2 inches. Bring the water to a boil.

Once boiling, process pint jars for 20 minutes and quart jars for 25 minutes at altitudes of 0-1,000 ft. Add additional processing time if you live at a higher altitude.

8. Remove and cool the jars

Use jar lifters to carefully remove the jars from the canner. Place them on a towel or rack, leaving 2 inches between jars for airflow.

Allow the jars to cool undisturbed for 12-24 hours. As the contents cool, the lids will “pop” down, sealing the jars.

9. Check the seals and store

Press on the center of each cooled lid. It should not flex up and down. Remove the bands and try lifting the jar by the lid. The lid should hold fast.

If any jars did not properly seal, refrigerate and use those first. Sealed jars can be stored in a cool, dark place for up to a year.

10. Enjoy your canned apples!

Now you have shelf-stable canned apples ready for making pies, applesauce, jam, muffins, and more! The apples will retain their just-picked flavor and texture.

Tips for Canning Apples

Follow these tips for delicious results when canning apples:

  • Use a mix of sweet and tart apples for balanced flavor.
  • Add lemon juice or ascorbic acid to prevent browning.
  • Use the right density syrup to achieve the desired amount of sweetness.
  • Handle jars gently before and after processing to prevent breaking.
  • Adjust processing time for higher elevations.
  • Label jars with contents and date for easier identification later.

With high quality produce, the proper technique, and a little patience, you’ll enjoy canned apple goodness all season long.

Common Questions About Canning Apples

If you’re new to preserving apples, you probably have some questions. Here are answers to some common canning apple FAQs:

Can I use just any jar and lid?

It is highly recommended to use mason jars and 2-piece canning lids specifically designed for home canning. The jars are made to withstand high heat and the lids provide a vacuum seal.

How do I know if my canned apples are safe to eat?

As long as jars have been processed properly and have an airtight vacuum seal, the canned apples should be shelf stable at room temperature for up to a year. Discard any jars with broken seals or signs of spoilage like mold, a bad smell, or “off” color.

What is the best apple for canning pie filling?

A mix of firm, tart apples like Granny Smith and sweeter apples like Gala, Fuji, or Golden Delicious make a nicely balanced pie filling. Avoid mealy apples like Red Delicious.

Can I double or halve the recipe?

Yes, the apple canning recipes can be adjusted up or down. Just maintain the same ratios of apples to syrup and process pint or quart jars for the same time outlined in the recipe.

How long do canned apples last when opened?

Once opened, canned apples should be refrigerated and used within 3 to 5 days. The refrigerator helps slow the growth of bacteria once the jar’s vacuum seal is broken.

Delicious Ways to Use Your Canned Apples

Don’t let your homemade canned apples just sit on the shelf! Enjoy them in these tasty ways:

  • Apple pie – Use canned slices or sauce in your favorite pie recipe.
  • Applesauce – Puree soft canned chunks into smooth applesauce.
  • Apple crisps and crumbles – Top fruit crumble batter with canned slices or chunks.
  • Apple muffins – Add diced apples to muffin batter or mix in applesauce.
  • Pancakes – Fold chopped apples or applesauce into pancake batter.
  • Apple jam – Cook canned chunks into sweet apple jam.
  • Apple chutney – Cook apples with vinegar, spices, onions, and sugar.
  • Over oatmeal – Add applesauce or diced apples to spice up oatmeal.

Get creative with sweet and savory ways to use up your pantry of homemade canned apples this fall and winter!


Canning your own apples is a rewarding way to enjoy seasonal apples year-round. With the proper steps and safety precautions, you can bottle up ripe apple flavor to have on hand for recipes, snacks, and gifts. Arm yourself with the right supplies, selecting ideal apple varieties, syrup ratios, and processing times. In a few hours, you will have a pantry stocked with apple deliciousness to last all year long.