You have a leftover half a jar of applesauce in the fridge and no idea how to use it in the next few days. Can you freeze applesauce?
Fortunately, you can freeze applesauce, and it freezes surprisingly well. Actually, there aren’t any downsides to freezing this sauce, except maybe that it needs a few hours to defrost before you can use it.
The whole process is as simple as it gets, and all you need is a couple of minutes, some basic freezing tools, and a bit of planning, to get it right.
If you’re interested in learning the ins and outs of freezing applesauce, along with some helpful tips, this article is for you.
Can You Freeze Applesauce?
You can freeze applesauce for at least a few months without any noticeable changes in quality. And that’s true for both chunky applesauce with small apple pieces and a perfectly smooth one.
The main issue with freezing fruit is that they become soft and mushy after thawing. In applesauce, that’s not an issue because the sauce and apples are soft and mushy from the get-go.
In other words, freezing and defrosting doesn’t change the texture of applesauce.
Here’s how my store-bought applesauce looks after defrosting:
And here’s the same applesauce before I froze it:
As you can tell, it looks pretty much the same as fresh applesauce (the slight color change is related to lighting, not the color of the sauce itself). And it tastes perfectly fine too.
You might be able to tell the difference between fresh and frozen applesauce if you eat it by the spoonful. But even if you do, it’s a minor one at best.
Long story short, applesauce freezes just fine, and you can use it after thawing the same way you use fresh applesauce.
Now, you might wonder if there are any differences between freezing homemade and store-bought applesauce. Let’s talk about that.
Homemade vs. Store-bought
You can freeze store-bought applesauce just as well as you can freeze the homemade variety. There aren’t any substantial differences in ingredients, texture, or taste between the two to make one option viable but not the other.
Of course, store-bought applesauce is canned and lasts for a year or two, so there’s no point in freezing an unopened jar. Freezing comes in handy only after you open it up and have some leftovers that you can’t use before they go bad.
For homemade applesauce, freezing allows you to store it for a long time if you’re not into canning. And many recipes online encourage you to make a big batch and freeze the leftovers. That’s an easy way to save some time in the kitchen.
Also, in case you were wondering, you can freeze homemade applesauce no matter if you cooked the apples on the stove or in a crockpot, made it chunky or smooth, with or without sugar, and so on.
Commercial applesauce often includes ascorbic acid (vitamin C), which helps prevent the sauce from browning. So while most of us don’t use ascorbic acid when making applesauce, its presence isn’t an issue.
How to Freeze Applesauce?
Freezing applesauce is as easy as it gets. So grab your containers, freezer bags, mason jars, or what have you, and let’s get it done.
Here’s how you freeze applesauce:
- Figure out portions. Think about how you’re going to use the thawed applesauce. Maybe you need half a cup as a pancake topping or two cups for a big batch of muffins. Applesauce freezes solid, so it’s best to portion it the way works best for you to avoid any leftovers.
- Consider storage arrangements. I prefer freezing applesauce in containers, but they take a lot of space in the freezer, especially if each is only half-full. If you’re freezing a big batch, freezer bags allow you to freeze the sauce flat, which takes much less space. Just make sure the bags are leakproof before pouring applesauce in them. Then there are also mason jars (read the tip on those below) and ice cube trays. The last option is great if you don’t yet know how you’re going to use the applesauce.
- Pour the applesauce into the containers/jars/bags/ice cube trays. Leave a bit of headspace to allow the applesauce to expand. Add labels with name and date if you like.
- Place everything in the freezer.
- (If freezing in ice cube trays) Once the cubes freeze solid, transfer them into a freezer bag or container and back in the freezer.
If you want to freeze applesauce in mason jars, make sure to use jars without shoulders, and leave an inch of space before the rim.
How Long Does It Take for Applesauce to Freeze?
The time it takes for applesauce to freeze depends on the storage option you chose and the amount. Here are some estimates:
- 3 to 4 hours for an ice cube tray
- 2 to 4 hours for a freezer bag laid out flat (depending on the height)
- 4 to 8 hours for containers and bags that aren’t flat, depending on the amount
Please note that these are only estimates. Your applesauce might take longer to freeze, depending on how your freezer is arranged and the amount you’re freezing.
Say you’re freezing three bags of applesauce, one on top of the other. The middle one will certainly take longer to freeze than the top and bottom ones. So the whole freezing will take at least 6 to 8 hours, maybe even more.
How Long Does Applesauce Last in the Freezer?
Applesauce retains best quality in the freezer for about six months. But, of course, it’s still going to be safe and quite tasty if you leave it in there for a year or even longer.
Generally, the recommendations for the time you can freeze applesauce vary, but most of them are somewhere in the 3 to 6 months range. Treat these six months as you treat a best-if-used-by date, not an expiration date.
As you probably know, frozen products gradually degrade in quality. That means applesauce that sat in the freezer for half a year will taste a tad bit worse than one that you froze two weeks ago. So the sooner you eat it, the better, but don’t sweat it.
For me, I try to use most of the products I freeze within a month, up to maybe three months. The longer the product sits frozen, the easier it is to completely forget about it, especially if it’s not in your face when you open the freezer.
How to Defrost Applesauce?
Defrost applesauce slowly in the fridge. The best option is to place the frozen applesauce in the refrigerator the night before you need it so that it’s ready in the morning.
To speed things up a bit, especially if you don’t have the whole 8+ hours, place the container or bag in a bowl of lukewarm water. This helps jumpstart the thawing process because water conducts heat much quicker than air. It should still sit in the fridge, though.
Here’s what I’m talking about:
Applesauce frozen flat in freezer bags defrosts noticeably quicker than the same amount in a small container. If you want the option to defrost your applesauce in two hours or so, go with freezer bags frozen flat and submerge the bag in water when defrosting. Change the water after 30-40 minutes.
But, say, you forgot to defrost your applesauce, and you need it for the dish you’re about to cook. Let’s tackle that.
If you want to defrost your applesauce quickly, you can try the following:
- The microwave. Set your microwave on low or defrost, and start thawing. In the beginning, go with minute-long sessions, and see how things go between each. Once possible, stir the applesauce in between every blast. As you get closer to defrosting the whole thing, shorten the time to 15 to 20 seconds per nuke.
- On the stove. If you’re okay with having the applesauce warm or even hot, this is a great option. Transfer the frozen applesauce into a bowl, or better yet, in a non-stick pan. Warm it up on low and stir often so that it doesn’t burn. You should have it ready in 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the amount.
If you’re defrosting your applesauce in the microwave, make sure that whatever the sauce is in is microwave-safe. You don’t want any chemicals to be released into your applesauce.
Can You Refreeze Applesauce?
You can refreeze applesauce that you defrosted in the fridge. It’s safe to do, but you should remember that each subsequent freezing and thawing degrades the quality of the applesauce a bit.
In other words, it’s much better to portion the sauce in a way you never have any leftovers that you need to deal with. And that’s what I preach.
If you messed up the portions or your plans have changed, it’s okay to refreeze it once. The change in quality won’t be that big, mainly because applesauce itself freezes pretty well.
Long story short, refreezing applesauce is okay as your backup plan, but it shouldn’t be your default choice.
Using Defrosted Applesauce
As I already mentioned, you can use defrosted applesauce exactly the same way you use it fresh. There’s no noticeable difference in texture or anything else that you need to pay special attention to.
That means everything from baked goods and toppings to savory sauces and everything in between is on the table.
To make the photos for this article, I used the applesauce in a slightly modified version of this applesauce muffins recipe. The muffins turned out great, and I will definitely make them again.
But if you’re looking for a super simple dish that includes applesauce, you can cook some white rice, top each portion with applesauce and a few spoons of greek yogurt (you can freeze greek yogurt, but use fresh for this one), and sprinkle with a bit of cinnamon.
A few minutes of active time, plus waiting for the rice to cook (or use frozen cooked rice), and voila, the dish is ready.