How to Make and Preserve Fresh, Healthy Applesauce for Babies and Toddlers

Author: Jennifer Gomes

It’s often a struggle to feed yourself and your growing babies wholesome, nutritious food when prepackaged convenient foods are so abundant. I want to share with you the one thing that has made it easier to give myself and my babies healthy foods.

Why I make my own canned foods

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I started to think about the food I was feeding myself and what I would feed her when she was born. There are SO many ingredients on food labels that I knew nothing about. There are even more that I knew were so unhealthy for my pregnant body and her growing one.

I couldn’t stand the idea of mystery ingredients on my unborn baby’s plate, so I started searching for alternatives.

My mom and grandma canned homemade applesauce, pears, jam, salsa, and more when I was growing up. So during my first pregnancy, I dove in to re-learning what I had practiced as a kid, but made some major improvements in the process to fit my busy life. Out with the marathon canning sessions, in with the easy, fast, and healthy recipes.

I canned apples into healthy, wholesome applesauce. I was able to learn how to preserve healthy produce with little or no sugar and only the most wholesome ingredients that I was comfortable with.

How I preserve applesauce

Now, I can applesauce in wide mouth half pint jars for myself and my kids to share. For babies and toddlers, I preserve it in these 4 ounce canning jars. Both are perfect serving sizes, free from BPA, reusable, and so much easier than dishing up individual bowls (we have enough dishes to wash, don’t we?).

Having homemade applesauce on the shelf gives my babes an easy go-to snack that they love! Mine are big fans of the cinnamon and maple syrup flavors. We can take them in their lunch boxes, on car rides, to Grandma’s house, and on trips.

The following recipe will share not only the recipe for delicious applesauce (and optional add-ins for mom’s lunch on the go), but explain exactly how to preserve it in glass jars so you can enjoy it up to a year later.

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How to Make Homemade Applesauce for Babies and Toddlers

If you plan to preserve your applesauce in jars, here’s what you need:

  • large pot for processing jars or a steam canner (read more about these speedy tools here!)
  • wire rack or silicone trivet that fits in the bottom of the large pot
  • medium-large heavy bottomed pot for cooking preserves
  • jar lifter for lifting jars from boiling water
  • funnel for pouring food into jars
  • NEW lids
  • jars (4 oz jars for baby food or 8oz jars for older children)
  • rings
  • trusted canning recipe

This Canning Essentials Kit on Amazon has many of the items you will need to start canning.

Note: Many pediatricians recommend abstaining from home-canned foods until baby is one year of age because of the very small risk of botulism, similar to recommendations to abstain from raw honey. However, apples are naturally high in acid, and thus negate this risk. You should still confer with your doctor first.

What you will need :

8 cups apples, washed and chopped, stems, cores, and seeds may remain

water to cover- at least 8 cups

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons real maple syrup

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 teaspoon cinnamon

**for baby food, you can omit all but apples and water, and use 4 ounce jelly jars. However, depending on the age of your baby, you can start introducing the seasonings as you wish.

What to do:

1. Prepare your water bath canning pot or your steam canner. Fill the water bath canning pot with water, add 8 half pint (1 measuring cup total) jars, and bring to a boil OR fill the steam canner to fill line and turn on low with 10-11 half pint jars nearby on a towel-covered counter top.

2. Combine apples and water and simmer together in a preserving pan (a heavy bottomed, wide pan) and stir occasionally for 30 minutes or until apples are very soft.

3. Puree: Remove from heat and ladle into a food mill. OR apples could be peeled and cored prior, and mashed with a potato masher. OR apples could be pureed in a blender if cores were removed prior.

4.Return apples to a boil, add sugar, maple syrup, vanilla, and cinnamon. Omit sugar, syrup and spice if prefered. Applesauce is healthy and delicious without those ingredients.

Cook for 5 minutes.

Applesauce is now ready to be enjoyed. If you’d prefer to skip preserving, enjoy and refrigerate.

5.Ladle into jars one at a time, filling up to ½ inch from the top of the jar, apply lids and rings, and either submerge into the boiling water of the boiling water bath with a jar lifter  OR set gently on the rack of the steam canner.

6. Process for 10 minutes PLUS 5 minutes for every 1000 ft above sea level. Remove from heat, rest jars carefully on towel covered countertop. Label cooled jars and store for up to 1 year.

Yields about 10 cups of applesauce. This means you’ll need 10 half pint jars or 20 4-ounce jars.

Now you can preserve anything!

Once you’ve made applesauce, the sky is the limit in terms of preserving possibilities. My kids love my tomato sauce on their spaghetti noodles and have no idea there’s nothing in it but vegetables. Fruit butter (strawberry is always a winner) tops my muffins as “frosting.”

Whole fruit like cherries and peaches are sweet, wholesome, and natural alternatives to “fruit” snacks that are a little more than sugar and artificial coloring. Canned pears are so mild and are a perfect early solid. They can be preserved in their own juice with no added sugar and you can hand select the best fruit for your baby.

If you’d like to learn more about the canning process in detail, you can sign up for the Free Canning Basics Course at

Related Post: Quick and Simple First Foods For Your Baby

About the Author

Jenny blogs about homemade food & craft at and her two small children’s favorite things to eat are spaghetti sauce with NO MUSHROOMS and raspberry jam…with a little toast underneath.

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