How to Can Apples

One thing I miss about living up north is apple season. We'd pack up the children and go to a local apple orchard to buy sacks of perfect apples and several gallons of apple cider.

The first autumn that we lived at Oak Hill we planted an assortment of apple trees. Over the years we've lost a few of them, but the others are doing pretty well. 

This year the remaining trees had a good number of apples. One tree is quite small and yet produces more apples than leaves.

Any apples that were too small, misshapen or badly-bruised were given to the horses over a period of time. Now they're expecting me to bring them apples.

I know from experience that we don't care much for applesauce. I made a lot the first year we had fruit and we ate hardly any of it. 

Another year I canned a lot of apple pie filling, and then read that it's too thick to can safely. Now I freeze some some apple pie filling every year instead of canning it.

But there are always enough apples that I want to can some to preserve them, and this year I am canning a lot of them

Now I just slice and can them in light syrup. They can be heated and eaten as is, or baked into apple pies, or made into baked apple slices or other dishes.

There's more flexibility this way.

Apples, like other fruits, are acidic enough to can in a water bath canner. 

How to Can Apples

Sterilize your jars (I use the dishwasher) and keep them warm until you're ready to fill them. 

Put the flat lids in a small pan and keep them in warm water. 

While you can preserve apples in plain water, I think you'll be happier if you use sugar syrup. Light syrup is made by bringing three cups of water to a boil and dissolving one cup of sugar in it. 

Heavier syrup is made with a higher ratio of water to sugar. 

Make the light syrup. Keep it hot; you'll use this to fill the jars after you add the apples.

Add water to your canning kettle or stockpot. Don't fill the pot because you'll be adding the full jars, which will displace water. 

Begin heating the water in the pot, but don't bring it to a boil yet.

Wash the apples well and peel them. (I save the peels and cores in the freezer to use to make Harvest Apple Jelly.)

Cut out any bad spots in the apples. Slice the apples into a bowl of cold water with lemon juice or Fruit Fresh to keep them from browning.

Blanching the apples will give you a better result than raw packing them. If you simply add the apples to the jars at this point and can them, they will be preserved, but they will float in the jars. The slices at the very top will be dry and unappetizing.

The canned apple slices will have a better texture if you blanch them first.

How to blanch apples

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the apple slices. 

Once the water begins boiling again, cook the apples for five minutes. Remove the apples and put them in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.

Repeat until all of the apple slices have been blanched.

Ladle the apple slices into the warm jars and add the hot syrup, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. 

Use a plastic knife or other non-metal utensil to dislodge any air bubbles in the jars and add more hot syrup if needed. 

Wipe the rims of the jars with a damp cloth to remove any syrup, then add a flat lid and a ring. Tighten the ring to finger-tight. 

Use a jar lifter to move the jars into the canner.

Add enough hot water to the canner to cover the jars with at least two inches of water. 

Put the lid on the canner and increase the heat.

Once the water has reached a rapid boil, begin timing the canning process depending on your elevation.

If you live at less than 1,000 feet elevation, pints and quarts both should boil for 20 minutes. if you live at an elevation higher than 1,000 feet, you'll need to add another five minutes for each 1,000 feet.

When the time is up, move the canner off the burner, remove the lid and carefully remove the jars with a jar lifter. 

Don't tilt the jars or bump them against the canner or other jars; set them carefully on a padded surface out of drafts, and leave them for 24 hours.

Isn't that ping of the jar lids a lovely sound? 

After the jars have cooled, test the lids by lightly pressing a finger against them. If the lid is tight and doesn't wiggle, the seal is good. 

But if the lid gives to pressure and moves up and down under your finger, the jar did not seal and you'll need to put this jar in the refrigerator and use up the contents soon - like tonight with dinner. Yum!

After 24 hours carefully wash the jars with a damp cloth, remove the rings, label the jars and move them to your storage area. You did it!

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You might also enjoy:

How to preserve apples using the water bath method of canning.

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  1. Nice canning project! I've had so much trouble with the new Ball and Kerr lids not having a wide enough seal strip to guarantee a good seal. They've really cheapened their lids and it's annoying when nearly one jar out of 7 doesn't seal. I've tried canning apple slices, but I find that like you with applesauce, we just don't seem to use them. Still, doesn't it give you a good feeling of accomplishment to see those jars of home-canned goods on the shelves for the coming winter!

  2. Well, that explains why I'm having more lid failures lately. What a shame. Earlier this summer I canned six jars of something and had 3 of them fail. :-(

    Yes, isn't it a wonderful feeling to look at all those jars? It's worth the work, isn't it?

  3. My mom grew up in a 1,000 acre apple orchard in Virginia! We always had apples, apple sauce. Apple everything! And I married a man who's favorite flavor is Apple!

  4. WOW, Susan! I can't even imagine a thousand acres of apple trees! Yes, I bet you had apple-everything. How funny that your husband also loves apple flavored everything.

  5. Lisa from Iroquois8:55 PM

    I love this idea of canning apples but not as apple sauce. Do you use medium syrup (as per the chart) or extra light? I love the idea of opening a can and dumping it into a pie or crisp, probably sipping on the syrup. I generally put apple pieces into the freezer but I will certainly experiment with this idea. Thank you.

  6. Hi Lisa, I used light syrup. When you open the jar the liquid tastes amazing, as well as the apple slices. And yes, they can go in pie, crisps, any apple pastry, on top of ice cream or french toast, etc. I think it's a great solution!

  7. Hi, Kathi. I enjoyed reading how your horses "expect" you to bring them apples. We toss apples out into the pasture for the horses to "field". It keeps their minds busy looking around for apples. Our chickens might start tasting like apples soon, we've fed them so many scraps left from our canning. Then, of course, we have our Labradors, who LOVE retrieving apples. Apples are fun for the whole family around here. Stop by when you get a "free" minute. (Visiting from Our Simple Homestead Hop)

  8. Hi Sally, I'm laughing about your dogs that fetch apples. Ours chew up the apples that fall from the trees (and tomatoes that are just starting to turn red).

  9. I love canning apples. Thanks for sharing on the Homestead Blog Hop.

  10. Congrats (for the second week in a row! You go girl) on being this weeks feature on the (mis)Adventures Mondays Blog Hop.

    1. Thank you very much, Mindie!

  11. Apples are one of my favourite autumn fruits and it's wonderful to have them in such abundance! I like how you have canned these sliced apples - it gives you so many options for different ways to use them. Pinned! Thank you for sharing this post with us at the Hearth and Soul Hop, Kathi!

  12. April, versatility is my plan! Thank you for hosting the Hop each week.

  13. Pinned to my Apple Recipes board. Thanks for showing how. Best wishes, Linda @Crafts a la mode

  14. I have never canned apples before and now next year I know I'll have to! I usually just do apple sauce and freeze apple crisps and pies. I'll be pinning this for later! Stopping by from the Country Fair Blog Party!

  15. Canned apples are so versatile, Val, and so easy to do - it's definitely worth doing and gives you a nice change from applesauce (unless, of course, you love applesauce and can't get enough of it).

  16. I miss a good apple orchard. My parents have over 10 trees when I was younger. The inherited an antique cider press from another family member that we often used when we had a bumper crop. It was so so good. We often freeze apple pies crust and all, so we just have to take them out of the freezer and pop them in the oven when we want a pie. Thanks for linking this post up to the Country Fair Blog Party this month.

  17. That apple cider sounds absolutely delicious, Nicole. What a true blessing that antique press was.

  18. I have never canned just apples. I've canned apple sauce and I've frozen apple pie fililng, or canned apple juice. No idea why I never do it! funny how it never occurs to me1 lol! It'd be so versatile to do that! Thanks for sharing @ apple week link party!

    1. When you run out of ideas and still have apples, this is a very versatile way to put them up.


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