Ever since I joined the homesteading community I’ve wanted to be one of those people that canned in the winter. It sounds so silly, doesn’t it? I want to be so busy in the summer that I have to continue working to preserve food throughout the winter too. It just seemed like it would be such a big accomplishment to have that much produce on hand and growing in your backyard. Thankfully, that wish came true this year! I was able to can potatoes and, more recently, I was canning apple slices in December!
I feel like I’m constantly talking about apple varieties. It is rather important to know what variety you are working with though. There are some apples that store better than others and some that will not make it through the winter just thrown in your basement in a basket. I should know, that’s why I ended up canning apple slices in the first place!
This particular batch of apples was given to us by a friend. Her parents have trees in their yard and they so graciously gifted us these in the fall. We grabbed a whole basket full! This was, of course, after we had already gone to a local orchard and picked apples. Our orchard apples were made into pie filling and applesauce. Thankfully we had many hands helping with that project so it went quickly. By the time these apples came along I was sure we’d just want to eat them as plain apples. After we moved they were a little forgotten but I moved them to the refrigerator to keep them as long as possible. Finally, in December they were about to get mushy and it was time to use them up! We had granny smith, red delicious, and macintosh. All of them canned beautifully.
Did you know that you don’t need to add sugar to your canned fruit? Most recipes call for sugar during processing so I thought this was just part of making sure they were safe to eat. I found out later that the sugar was only added for taste. Apples are acidic enough to be canned on their own with water, just like tomatoes. Here are the ratios that you will want to use if you want it to be more of a syrup vs. just a fluid for packing:
Extra Light: 1 cup of sugar per quart of water
Light: 2 cups of sugar per quart of water
Medium: 3 cups of sugar per quart of water
Heavy: 4 ¾ cups of sugar per quart of water
You can also use honey instead of sugar! We did this when we canned our peaches earlier in the summer and they are absolutely delicious. Sweet but not too sweet like the store bought kind. The ratio for that is 1 cup of honey per gallon of water or ¼ cup of water per quart of water.
Canning Apple Slices Process
- First, get a large bowl of cold water and add some lemon juice. For every gallon of juice you will want to add about ½ cup of lemon juice. This will be used to prevent the apples from turning brown.
- Core, peel, and slice your apples. I use the KitchenAid attachment to make this process go super quickly. As you prepare them, add them to the water/lemon juice mixture.
- If you are making a syrup, you need to do that now. I canned mine in water so I just skipped this step.
- Once all of your apples are done, rinse them well and put them into a pot. Add water or syrup to cover the apples.
- Cover the pot and bring it to a boil. (I recommend using this time to prepare your jars for canning.)
- Simmer your apples for 5 minutes. This helps push out some of the air from the apples and prevents them from getting too mushy during canning.
- Pack the apple slices into the prepared jars. You’ll want to bang your jars a couple of times during the process to really pack them down in there. Pack them up to the hips of the jar.
- Using a ladle and a funnel, fill the jars with fluid. You will use the same fluid that you just boiled them in. For me, this was just water but this could be the syrup that you created too if you went that route. Again, fill up to the hips of the jars.
- Water bath process pints and quarts for 20 minutes. (This is for altitudes of 1,000ft or less, please adjust your time based on your altitude if needed.)
- Remove the jars from the canner and place them on the counter.
- Allow them to sit for 12-24 hours.
If the lid pops or flexes after this time period, your jar did not seal. Place this jar in the refrigerator and use it first.
Tips & Tricks
2-3 small apples fit in a pint jar for this application. I would double that for a quart jar. However, if you are using large apples (from a more professional orchard) that will also change how much you are able to fit.
If you are looking for how many lbs of apples to use I don’t really have a lot of advice. Even the Ball Blue Book doesn’t have a guide for how many pounds of apples equal how many quart or pint jars. I tend to be in the situation where I have a certain amount of apples to can and they are getting done regardless of how many jars it takes. I always try to wash and prepare more jars than what I think I will need just to be on the safe side.
In Summary: Canning Apples
I’m now happy to report that since my December adventure canning apple slices I have three types of processed apples in our pantry. Applesauce, apple pie filling, and apple slices. I think applesauce still remains my favorite but I appreciate all of them in their own way. What is your favorite way to preserve apples?
P.S. One fun bonus is that you can use your apple scraps to make apple cider vinegar too!