When a local fresh foods market gave us a bucket full of “bad” apples for our pig, I knew that Porkchop wouldn’t see most of them! Almost every one of those apples was perfectly fine, all except for a small bruise here or there. No, I was gonna use those apples! And I wanted to make the most of them. Browsing through my canning books, I was excited to discover that I could make applesauce and apple jelly from the same batch of apples! Now, that’s how you use what you have wisely.

First we make the jelly…


  • Apples (sweet, not sour)
  • Sugar
  • Lemon Juice

*Note: this recipe is a no-pectin recipe. Apples naturally have pectin in them. Sometimes, however, you may still end up with jelly that is slightly runny. If you’d like to add pectin, you can follow this canning recipe instead.

For applesauce and jelly, you want to use sweet apples, not tart ones. The ones I used were mostly Honey Crisps this time. Wash the apples, and cut off the bad places.

Remove the stem and the blossom end, and chop the apples up, core and all. Measure how many “slightly heaped” quarts of apples you have. You really want to have just over 4 quarts (or one gallon), at least. This time I ended up with just over a gallon. Perfect.

Put the chopped apples in a large saucepan, and add 1 cup of water for every heaping quart of apples.

Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer until the apples are tender. Stir every now and then, and smash the apples a little bit to extract more juice.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the apple chunks to a separate bowl, making sure to keep all of the liquid in the pot. You may have to drain accumulated juices from the bowl of apple chunks back into the pot. You need as much liquid as you can get.

Next, strain the liquid from the pot to remove any solid apple chunks. I use a couple of layers of cheese cloth secured to a pitcher with a rubber band. Slowly pour the liquid through the strainer. Dump any solids you catch in the cheese cloth back in with the rest of the apples.

Now you have  your strained apple juice, and the apple chunks. Set the apples aside to work with in a little while.

Measure how much liquid you have. For a gallon of chopped apples I ended up with 4 cups of juice. Pour the liquid back into the pot and add 3 cups of sugar and 2 Tbsp lemon juice for every 4 cups of apple juice.

**Short Cut: You can make apple jelly from store bought 100% apple juice the same way. Just start at this point. I think you need to add pectin though (does anybody know?)

Bring liquid to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Continue stirring. Boil down to gelling point. Use the spoon test to check for doneness:

Spoon Test

Dip a chilled, metal spoon into the boiling jelly mixture and scoop out a spoonful. Tip the spoon over a bowl (away from the steam of the pot), and watch how the jelly slides off.

If it runs off like syrup, it’s not ready.

If it comes off in a couple of bigger drops, it’s almost ready.

When the jelly slides off of the spoon in one sheet, it’s perfect.

You are now ready to fill your jars. Ladle the hot jelly into hot, sterilized jars. Fill to within 1/8″ of rim. Use a wet rag to wipe the rim clean of any drips, then affix the lid and ring.

Some people just allow the jelly to cool on a rack, and don’t process. I am one of these people most of the time. If you want, though, you may process the jars in a water bath canner for 5 minutes. I ended up with 4 half-pints of jelly.

Okay, so now that that part is done… on with the applesauce!


  • Cooked apples (leftover from apple jelly)
  • Sugar (optional)
  • Cinnamon (optional)

So, I totally have to go back on my bad review of the Back To Basics Food Strainer & Sauce Maker. Although it was undeniably horrible to use with my raw tomatoes, it has been a god-send to use on cooked apples and pears! As you will see, this thing makes some beautiful applesauce. Yes, it still leaked black stuff from the handle, but you learn to deal with it.

You really do need some sort of food mill for this process, to separate the skins and seeds from the pulp.

Put the cooked apple chunks through the mill, and marvel at the beauty of your homemade applesauce filling the bowl.

When the apples have all been pureed, transfer the pulp back to a large saucepan. Taste the applesauce to decide whether you’d prefer to add some sugar and/or cinnamon. I opted out of sweetening mine, as it was plenty sweet naturally (and because I want my kids to develop a taste for naturally sweetened foods). Bring sauce to a boil, stirring to avoid scorching.

Ladle the hot applesauce into hot, clean jars, leaving 1/2 in. headspace. Wipe rim with a wet cloth, and assemble the two piece lid.

Hot water bath pints and quarts for 20 minutes. (I ended up with 4 pints of applesauce.)

And the little bit of skins and stuff that was leftover from the strained apples went to the pig. See, she did get a little taste after all!

Have a special recipe for apple jelly or applesauce you’d like to share? I’d love to know if you have a different way of doing things!