If you are searching for ways to use up a bucket of apples, even the misshapen, small sour apples, you've come to the right place. Here are three different recipes for canning apples to create delicious condiments for gifting and eating all year long.
Believe it or not, one summer I canned Apple Butter, Apple Marmalade, and Apple Chutney just from the thinnings and dropped apples that were good from our apple trees. In the Pacific Northwest, that was early since September and October are our typical apple harvesting months.
Even our first apples to ripen, Gravensteins, don't usually ripen until the last weeks of August. But if you have early ripening apples - or other varieties that seem to drop a lot of fruit before they're ripe - you, too, might be faced with something like this:
A five gallon bucket full of Gravenstein apple thinnings. Or a bucket full of smaller apples that aren't great for eating. Or odd misshapen fruit that are too sour still for things like unsweetened applesauce or pie.
Since these apples were bigger than normal thinnings, I couldn't bear to throw them away, so I decided to use them in canned apple recipes that called for sugar to offset the sour taste. And these little guys were SOUR. Whew, talk about a pucker when I tasted one to see what I was dealing with!
They turned out to be perfect for these condiment recipes, though!
Since then I have made these recipes whenever I have any type of tart apples to use up. I love having these condiments on hand throughout the year.
What if I don't have thinnings, but just a bunch of tart apples?
As I mentioned, all three recipes here will work with any kind and size of tart apple! I know from experience that we sometimes have apples we want to use up, whether we're gifted them, we glean them, or we harvest them from the side of the road.
No matter how you get your apples here are three unique ways for canning apples so you can use them up and do it deliciously. All of these condiments make wonderful gifts, too, as well as great additions to your meals all year long.
New to boiling water canning? Go here for a complete tutorial - it's easy, I promise!
3 Different Ways for Canning Apples
If you've got enough small to medium apples to fill a five gallon bucket you can make a batch of all of the following recipes. If you have less, choose just one or two.
1. Apple Chutney
You'll want to use your biggest apples for the marmalade and/or chutney, so prepare and make these first if you plan to make all three recipes. You'll see the easy way I deal with smaller apples when making apple butter below.
What is chutney?
Chutney is a flavorful sweet-savory condiment that makes meats, vegetables, and curries all so much better. Once our family discovered how much we like addictive tomato chutney (it's like ketchup!), I started experimenting with all kinds of chutney.
I make a rhubarb chutney, and have added cherry chutney to our favorite chutney recipes, and this unique apple chutney joins the list. Since apples and pork are often served together, this works really well with any type of pork (Added to pulled pork sliders? Yum...).
Sweet-Hot Apple Chutney
- 6 cups prepared green apples, Granny Smith or other tart apple (about 2 pounds)
- 2 cups chopped onions
- 1 1/2 cups lightly packed brown sugar
- 1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
- 3/4 cup raisins, chopped in a food processor
- 2 tablespoons peeled and minced fresh ginger root or 2 teaspoons dried powdered ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground mustard
- 1 teaspoon sea salt or canning salt
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
- Peel, core and coarsely chop apples to get the 6 cups measured.
- Add the chopped apples and remaining ingredients to a stainless steel saucepan stockpot (6-quart or larger). Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer at a gentle boil, uncovered, for 40 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.
- Meanwhile, prepare boiling water canner, 7 half pint jars,* lids, and bands.
- After 40 minutes, the chutney should be reduced some and thickened a bit. If not, cook for another 10 minutes or so until desired consistency; remove from heat.
- Ladle chutney into jars, one at a time, leaving a 1/2 inch headspace. Using plastic or wood spatula, remove air bubbles. Wipe rim with damp cloth, attach lid and place in rack of canner. Repeat with all the jars. (If you don't have enough to fill up the last jar to the required headspace, put that in the refrigerator.)
- Process filled jars for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath. Turn off burner, remove canner lid, but leave the jars to cool in the water for 5 minutes before removing to a towel-lined surface.
- Let sit for 12-24 hours before removing rings, checking seals, labeling and storing.
2. Apple Lemon Marmalade
I love using our sweet onion marmalade for meat glazes and over cream cheese or goat cheese for appetizers, so I developed an apple and lemon marmalade that makes a wonderful change from the onion.
In developing this recipe I couldn't find one that didn't use commercial pectin but I know that under-ripe and tart apples are high in pectin (it's one of the fruits used in commercial pectin, in fact) so I didn't want to use additional pectin. Instead I adapted a safe canned marmalade to use apple and lemon - and it turned out fabulous!
Simple 3 Ingredient Apple Lemon Marmalade
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 5 cups sugar
- 8 cups peeled, cored, and chopped apples
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 lemon, thinly sliced (including rind)
- Heat the water and sugar until dissolved.
- Add chopped apples, lemon juice, and sliced lemon.
Boil mixture until it reaches the jelly stage (220 degrees), about 15-20 minutes, skimming any foam.
- Meanwhile, prepare canner, 7 half-pint jars, lids and rings. (For more information on canning, see boiling water canning step-by-step.)
- Fill jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace, wipe rims, seal, and then process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes. Turn off burner, remove lid, and let jars sit in canner for 5 minutes before removing to a towel-lined surface.
- Let jars cool for 12 hours, remove rings, check seals, label and store in cool, dark place. Use in 12-18 months.
3. Slow Cooker Maple Apple Butter
Once I made the other two recipes, I had a lot of the smaller, misshapen apples left. I planned to make my favorite slow cooker maple sweetened apple butter with them, but knew I needed an easier way to process them besides peeling and coring them individually like in the recipe.
I decided to core them, cut them in quarters, and cook them in a small amount of water until soft (you do have to stir often, though, because they will stick).
Then I put them through an apple press/food mill to get a smooth sauce and leave the skins behind. It turned out to be a pretty easy way to deal with all those apples!
After that it's as simple as adding the sauce and all the other ingredients to the slow cooker. I needed it to cook overnight, so I set it to cook on high for an hour before turning it down to low to keep cooking overnight.
The next morning, remove the lid and turned it up to high to make the sauce thicker (it took about two more hours, actually, to get it to the thick consistency I like).
Once it's a consistency you like, follow the recipe to can the butter or freeze it in jars.
Go to the Apple Butter recipe here.
I was so thrilled that I was able to can all this from apples I might have thinned and thrown away just a month earlier. With the addition of sugar, these all tasted great- you'd never know they started out as under-ripe apples.
I hope this helps you find some ideas for canning apples you might find, too.
This article has been updated - it was originally published in August of 2011.
Absolutely LOVE the apple butter, which is THE best I have ever tasted, bar none! Just the perfect balance of sweetness and tartness. I left the skins on for flavor, that, and because most of the apples were too small to peel. Once they were well cooked, I used a food processor to pulse/ pulverize the apples, and there was no trace of skin texture. I cooked them long enough to get that perfect apple butter texture and was ecstatic with my results. This will be my go to recipe for apple butter as long as I have an apple tree! Getting ready to make that chutney, too.
I'm so glad to know this - thank you for the review!! Especially good to know about the skins with the smaller apples - that probably works better because smaller apples tend to have thinner skins. Great tip!
Leslie K says
Love, love, love the chutney. I tried both the chutney an the apple pie filling recipe. Both the apple pie filling recipe and the chutney were delicious however, I really struggled with the apple pie filling not sealing and dripping out of the cans. We tried using new lids and resealing them but it was worse the second go around. We are new to canning so it could be a lack of experience. Either way, the flavors were delicious and I would highly recommend giving them a try.
Glad you liked the chutney, Leslie - and good for you for trying canning! All your experiences will help you become better at it. 🙂
I commented on a couple recipes but my comment was cleared for some reason - we made the apple butter and was delicious - first time ever canning apples - then we made the apple chutney but it only made 2 1/2 half pints - the vinegar was overpowering - wondered if the amount of apples was misprinted- any suggestions?
Gosh, I'm glad you wrote in, Cheri! While not 3 pounds, it is supposed to be 6 cups - I must've gotten confused with a half recipe I have written as well. So sorry!
I've updated the recipe with the correct measurement.
Yesterday I made and canned both the chutney and the marmalade. Absolutely delicious!
Thanks for the link. It is very informative and the steps are clear and looks easy. Will follow it when i want to make the marmalade.
Pls can you show how to make orange marmalade. My children like it a lot. I usually buy it around #600 (600 Naira, around $4), but since coming upon your blog, am determined to make as many things myself as i can. Thanks
I'm so glad you are desiring to make your own food, Nnenna! AND I'm glad to help any way I can! I don't know if I'll ever do a recipe for marmalade, though, as my family doesn't enjoy it - unlike yours! - but here is a link to a recipe from a site I love all about picking/growing/making your own food:
Hope this is helpful to you! 🙂
thanks for the post! I recently moved to a home with two apple trees that always put out small apples -- probably because I never knew how to thin them. Unfortunately they are not dwarf so thinning them would be difficult anyway -- but at least I have some ideas on what to do with all the small (really tart) apples!
Debra @ Drumlin Fields Farmstead says
Am anxious to make your recommendations for unripe apple culls. We are experiencing a heavy crop of orchard fruits this year. I understand that to manage organically , all damaged fruits should be removed, shallow tilling to keep bugs from pupating, and chickens clean up what they can reach. The branches are groaning under the weight of this crop, so I remove a quarter of the fruit, before branches break. That's a lot of unripe fruit! Will try some pear culls in chutney recipes...
Thank you so much for this post. We just had a tree fall and I didn't want to waste the apples. Now I know I won't have to 🙂
Jami @An Oregon Cottage says
Ellen- We planted our semi-dwarf trees 6 years ago and this is the first year we've had this much fruit.
I don't spray them with anything. I've used a lure and trap for apple maggots because they can destroy the whole apple, but I just deal with the apple coddling moth, as they are just in the core. (I found the lures and traps at Gardens Alive). But I never refreshed the lures this year, so we'll see how much damage there is- there wasn't much in this unripe batch.
Jami @An Oregon Cottage says
Kristin- Great idea which I've thought about but haven't tried yet. Now you've got me thinking about it again...
How long ago did you plant your tree? My in-laws planted what looked like sticks in the ground and finally...some x years later (can't remember how many), they are producing apples. Do you treat them organically or with a little help?
It all looks so yummy! You are correct about the green (under-ripe)apples being high in pectin. Perfect for boiling the cores and the skins down to make apple pectin to make jams and jellies. The taste of jams made with apple pectin is so much better than with commercial pectin and jellies come out crystal clear! 🙂
Anna at the Doll House says
I am impressed. When you made all this, just from the thinnings, I'm wondering what you'll do with that bumper crop when it's ready.
I have Gravenstein apples in my garden too but this year there are very few apples.
Jami @An Oregon Cottage says
Anna- Well, we actually like to eat tart green apples like gravensteins (just riper, though!) in my house, :-), but I'm looking forward to making some applesauce and canning it, as we didn't get any apples last year. I also like to freeze some to use in crisps and smoothies (usually added with berries).
I'm sorry your tree is bare this year! Seems like apples are an every-other-year thing!