Apple canning recipes are the perfect way to preserve a bumper crop of fall fruit. There are so many ways to get creative, and there’s no reason to just stick with plain applesauce!
Historically, apples were one of the few fruits available all winter long. It is possible to store apples for extended periods, provided you choose the right storage apple varieties and keep them in a cool moist space like a root cellar.
For years we stored apples in cardboard boxes in our basement, which worked well enough. This year we built a 10 drawer apple storage rack which stores about 200 pounds of apples to keep us in fresh fruit all winter long.
The has a small footprint, 24×30 inches, but you’ll need a cool basement or the apples just won’t store.
For most modern households, a root cellar isn’t exactly a practical option. With that in mind, canning apples is by far the most dependable and practical way to ensure a supply of apple-y goodness all winter long.
Many beginning canners start off with something simple like applesauce. It’s completely foolproof, and pretty versatile whether just eaten out of the jar or use in baking.
While kids love applesauce, most adult palates crave something with a bit more substance and variety. Don’t worry, there are literally dozens of delicious, safe apple canning recipes to choose from.
Canning apple slices is the most versatile apple canning recipe since it’s literally just sliced fruit. For some reason, home-canned pears became popular, and you can even buy cans of those in the stores. Apple slices are just as delicious.
Home-canned apple slices are perfect for homemade apple cakes, apple crisp, pies or just topping a bowl of yogurt or oatmeal in the morning.
Apple Pie Filling
Similar to canning apple slices, apple pie filling takes it up a notch. The slices are seasoned with traditional pie spices and thickened into a ready to go pie filling.
A special thickener known as clear jel is the only thickener approved for canning, as it doesn’t interfere with the heat transfer into the center of the jar.
Clear jel also has the added bonus that it can be heated, then cooled repeatedly without losing its thickening power. That means it can be water bath canned and later baked without issue.
Spiced Whole Apples
Canning whole apples is only really practical for small crabapples, that will easily fit in the jar. Crabapples are often too small to bother with peeling and coring, so it makes sense to just process them whole.
Beyond that, they’re usually pretty tart, but they have amazing flavor when canned in a spiced syrup.
Plop one on top of your oatmeal in the middle of winter and you’ll have a real treat!
~ Old Fashioned Spiced Crab Apples ~
You’d be hard-pressed to find apple jam in the grocery store, so if you want to taste this unbelievable concentrated apple flavor you’ll have to make it yourself!
Finely diced apples are macerated in sugar, which firms them up and allows them to hold their shape during cooking. Instead of cooking down into an apple sauce, the tiny pieces form into a chunky jam that tastes even more apple-y than biting into a fresh apple.
Add spices of your choice, or leave it all apple, it’s up to you.
Beyond plain apple jam, you can also combine apples with other fruits to make homemade jam. The apples are usually more of a pectin source than a flavoring. Still, most the recipes are at least half apple, even if the flavor is overtaken by berries or other fruits.
Half apple means they’re still apple canning recipes in my book!
Homemade applesauce is one of the easiest apple canning recipes.
Simply chop apples, peeled or not, and place them in a pot. Cook until mushy, and then can them up, chunky or smooth.
Be sure to treat the apple slices with lemon juice if you want a bright yellow sauce, or let them brown for an old fashioned look.
Apple sauces slow-cooked cousin, homemade apple butter is slow-cooked to allow the natural sugars to carmelize. Treat the apples or not, it’ll always brown, but not from oxidation. That beautiful brown color speaks to a deep caramel apple flavor that’s hard to come by any other way.
You can add sugar to speed up the process, but I’m a fan of the traditional recipe, which is just apples and patience.
~ Old Fashioned Apple Butter ~
Fresh pressed apple cider tastes amazing, but it’ll ferment into hard cider in less than 24 hours unless it’s pasteurized.
Those big brown jugs of apple cider from the grocery store are quickly pasteurized, just enough to kill off the yeast but not enough to dramatically change the flavor.
Canning apple cider at home is no different and maintains that classic brown cider color (and flavor).
Apple Cider Syrup (Boiled Cider)
Cider syrup, also known as boiled cider, is a staple in Vermont. It’s made very much like maple syrup, but instead of boiling down tree sap, it’s made from cider boiled until it becomes a syrup.
Like maple syrup, it’s mostly shelf-stable, and it’ll last for months on its own. Still, eventually, it will spoil if not canned. Canning is simple, just water bath can it for 10 minutes with 1/4 inch headspace.
Though it’s similar to apple cider, apple juice is crystal clear and has a bright golden color. The pectin is removed by heating and then filtering, and then the resulting juice is canned.
While I love cider, my kids are in love with apple juice. I can it in half-pint jars to make little single-serve “juice box” sized jars.
Homemade apple jelly can be made either from diced apples, or from leftover peels and cores. Personally, I make it from scraps because it’s a great way to get one more use out of them before they’re fed to the chickens.
My recipe for apple scrap jelly (pictured below) will be posted soon. I make a similar peach scrap jelly from the peels when I’m canning peaches, but that one has added pectin since peaches don’t have much pectin of their own.
We also make crabapple jelly, which is absolutely delicious because crabapples are some of the most flavorful apples. Their tart flavor is balanced by the sugar in the jelly recipe, and they have plenty of natural pectins so the jelly sets beautifully.
In the meantime, my friend Colleen has a fabulous recipe for no sugar added apple jelly.
You can, in fact, pickle just about anything, and apples are no exception.
Apples pickled in apple cider vinegar are surprisingly good, and really lovely on a charcuterie plate. They have minimal or no salt, and a good bit of added sugar.
The pickling vinegar gives them a nice tang, and they’re lovely on a cracker with a chunk of blue cheese on top.
(Pickling whole crabapples is also an option, but they’re much less versatile. They look lovely and festive in a jar, but it’s hard to actually use them.)
A chutney is a sweet and sour condiment, often made with fruit, onions, vinegar, and spices.
In this case, apples are the fruit and they work wonderfully with the warm chutney spices.
~ Apple Chutney Canning Recipe ~
Using Apple Canning Scraps
With all these apple canning recipes, you’ll have plenty of peels and cores around. The peels make great chicken feed, but they’ll also culture into a delicious apple scrap vinegar.
While it’s not quite the same as traditional homemade apple cider vinegar, but who can complain when it uses up peels that would otherwise just go to the compost.
You can also boil the trimmings with sugar to turn them into a tasty apple syrup or apple jelly.
And don’t forget to plant the apple seeds!
Growing apples from seed can be a bit tricky since they require cold stratification, but with a little planning, you can have your own thriving backyard tree from your own apple seeds.
(Sometimes, if the apples have been in cold storage long enough, the seeds will start to sprout inside the apple. In that case, just plant your little baby apples and wait…)
Ways to Preserve Apples
Looking for more ways to preserve apples? There are plenty of delicious apple preserving recipes without canning:
- Hard Cider
- Apple Wine
- Russian Brined Apples
- Spiced Probiotic Apples (Fermented Apple Slices)
- Root Cellaring Apples
Fall Canning Recipes
Putting up more than just apples this autumn?
Red Zinger jelly can be made from red apples. Boil the peels in apple juice with hibiscus blossom, anise hyssop or Mexican tarragon, and lemon verbena. Sorry, lemon balm does not substitute nearly as well.
Apples also work well for mincemeat if you can’t get cooking pears. Use candied pumpkin instead of citron.
Please seek out a recipe for German spiced red cabbage, and try it with green cabbage. The recipe should include apple cider vinegar, cloves, and ginger. Use the cabbage within a year. Otherwise, make chow-chow/picalilli/Dixie relish and use it on beans and cornbread, hot dogs, or greens.
Turnips make a delightful fresh/refrigerated pickle. Use sweetened white vinegar, turmeric, ginger, garlic, mustard seed, and strips of whatever heat of green pepper suit you. Store in a cool but not freezing place and use as desired, after one week.