I’ve been making homemade applesauce and pear sauce for as long as I can remember. It was a staple of my mom’s yearly food preservation when I was young and now it is the same for me with my own family. My kids love to help make homemade applesauce and pear sauce every year. Some years when I have the time, I can it to preserve it. Other years, like this year, I’m so busy that it is easier to freeze it to preserve it. Either way, it provides us with homemade applesauce and pear sauce to eat year round!
Applesauce, Pear Sauce or Apple-Pear Sauce?
Making homemade applesauce and pear sauce follows the same steps. The only difference is the type of fruit. My access to fruit varies from year to year which dictates the types of fruit sauce I make and preserve. Some years I make only applesauce, some years only pear sauce and some years I mix them together for an apple-pear sauce. At our old homestead, we had a Seckle pear tree that always produced an abundance of pears. This provided us with plenty of pears to make and preserve pear sauce and pear butter to eat year round.
This year at our new homestead, we only have a plum tree so my access to apples and pears is what I am able to forage, buy or barter. I’ve been watching for free ads on Craigslist and asking around for fruit to forage. Recently we were at the local farmer’s market and found a farmer with 5 gallon buckets full of pesticide free seconds apples for $5 each. We bought two buckets full for making applesauce. Later that afternoon a neighbor gave us a bucket full of apples and someone else gave me some pears from their tree. Such wonderful gifts and perfect for making homemade applesauce and pear sauce!
What varieties of fruit are needed to make applesauce and pear sauce?
Personally I use any variety of apple or pear I can get my hands on! Growing up, my mom said she preferred to use Granny Smith apples since they were more tart. She then added brown sugar and cinnamon into the homemade applesauce to sweeten it. I’m more of a purist and try to not use additional sweeteners when possible. The varieties of apples I’ve foraged or bought in our region have always been sweeter varieties of apples so the fruit sauce is sweet enough without needing to add sugar.
What if the fruit has worms in it? Can I still use it to make applesauce or pear sauce?
This may gross you out, but you can absolutely still use fruit that has worms in it to make applesauce or pear sauce! I’m not saying to throw the whole wormy fruit into your applesauce pan though. There are ways to salvage some worm-free parts of the fruit and not include the extra icky protein of the worm!
I always try to ask the person I’m getting fruit from if they spray the fruit or know if it could have worms. Typically the type of fruit I find for free has worms in it but the plus side is that at least it is pesticide free! I’m willing to put in a little extra work with buckets of free wormy fruit.
Inspect the apple or pear and look for any marks or holes that could be a worm hole. Sometimes the small hole is in the side of the fruit, other times it might be on the bottom or near the stem. If there is evidence of a bug hole, I cut the rest of the fruit away and avoid the area where the bug hole is. I also avoid cutting the center core of the fruit since that is where the bugs are often hanging out. If you’re curious to see what it looks like, by all means cut through the core and check it out if you’re not too squeamish and grossed out! We discard the part of the fruit that has the bug hole and the wormy core. The chickens and goats love to eat those though!
How to make applesauce and pear sauce
To make homemade applesauce or pear sauce, you will need a food mill. Growing up we used this type of food mill that sits on top of a pot. I also used one like this for years until someone recommended I try this counter top style food mill. Oh.My.goodness. What a huge difference! Using the counter top style food strainer is so much quicker and user friendly. It takes a little longer to put together and clean up than the old style but that’s ok since the overall process is much quicker and smoother with my new food strainer!
Apples and/or pears
- Step 1: Wash the apples and/or pears. Remove any leaves. Cut out any bruised spots. Chop the fruit into pieces and place it in a large stock pot. It does not matter if the seeds or stem end up in the pot since they will be separated out later when processed through the food mill.
- Step 2: Pour water into the pan full of fruit until there is about 1/2″-1″ of water in the bottom of the pan. This will help prevent the fruit from burning to the bottom until it starts to cook and produce it’s own juices.
- Step 3: Simmer the fruit on medium-low heat with a lid on top. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking and burning on the bottom.
- Step 4: When the fruit is soft, remove it from the heat. (It usually takes about 10-20 minutes for the fruit to be soft.) Once removed from the heat, pour the fruit into a large bowl to start to cool. Get another round of fruit cooking in the pan until all the fruit is cooked.
- Step 5: Once the cooked fruit cools a little, process it through a food mill. I always have little helpers in the kitchen since Big Sister loves to crank the handle on the food mill while 2 year old Little Brother pushes the fruit with the plunger in the top tray. The apple/pear sauce will pour out the front of the food mill into the bowl placed underneath. The “waste” of skin, seeds, etc will come out the side spout into another bowl which we then feed to the critters.
Taste the sauce to determine if you want to add any sweetener or spices. I’m a purist and typically don’t add anything but we all have different tastes! The sauce is now ready to be frozen or canned. See the sections below for directions on how to freeze or can the applesauce or pear sauce.
How to freeze applesauce or pear sauce
To freeze applesauce or pear sauce, use freezer safe jars or plastic containers. For this year’s sauce, I used a mix of freezer safe glass jars and plastic freezer containers with twist on lids. The jars I use have a line on them noting the maximum fill line for freezing. With plastic containers, my general rule of thumb is to leave at least 1/2″ headspace at the top to allow for expansion.
Before freezing the sauce, let it cool. I’ve learned that if I stick containers of warm food in my deep chest freezers, it causes more chunks of ice to build up on the sides which is just a hassle later when it gets so thick you have to clean it off. I let the sauce cool to room temperature, put the lids on and write on the lid with a permanent marker the contents and year. Then I put it in the refrigerator to chill. Once it is chilled, I move it to the deep freezer. I keep fruit sauce frozen for up to a year. After that it tends to get freezer burnt and have an off flavor.
How to can applesauce or pear sauce
To can applesauce or pear sauce, I always follow the guidelines in my favorite Ball Canning Cookbook . Heat the fruit sauce to boiling and pack it into clean canning jars. This is where a good canning funnel and ladle come in handy! For applesauce and pear sauce, I prefer to leave about 3/4″ headspace since I’ve had some jars not seal in the past when I did the usual 1/2″ headspace.
Once the jars are filled, remove air bubbles and wipe the rims clean. Place a canning lid and ring on then process in a boiling water bath canner (this is the one we have and love!) for 20 minutes for pints and quarts. Don’t forget to add time for your altitude if you need to!
How to use applesauce or pear sauce
We often use applesauce or pear sauce as a side, especially when eating pork since it pairs well. When my kids were babies, I canned applesauce and pear sauce in these small size canning jars and used them as baby food. They worked great and the kids still love these homemade sauces today!
We also use our applesauce and pear sauce to make homemade fruit leather. I don’t have a post on how to do this yet but here’s a post from Common Sense Home explaining how to make homemade fruit leather.