Confused about lemon juice, processing time for applesauce

ckknh(z5 NH)October 3, 2007

I'm confused about adding lemon juice to applesauce. In the Ball big book, it says "lemon juice is not an optional addition- Lemon juice is added to..assure the acidity of the finished product." This implies to me that lemon juice is a safety-related addition. However, I do see apple jam recipes that do not use lemon juice in them (as in, say apple maple jam). So, what's the deal? Is it really unsafe to can applesauce without added lemon juice?

Also, what's a safe processing time for applesauce quarts? I've seen both 15 and 20 minutes.

One last question: In Linda Lou's apple pie jam, is it okay to decrease the amount of sugar in the jam safety-wise? I'm planning to use Pomona instead of regular boxed pectin.

Thanks for your help!

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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Jam contains a LOT more sugar, so the sugar ensures its safety. I like to add an acid in most all jams as I like it to have a bit of tartness compared to cloying sweetness. Apple sauce that has no added acid and it would be dependent on the amount of natural acid, just like tomatoes. Adding acid to these will keep them safe to can.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2007 at 11:29AM
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Linda_Lou(SW Wa.)

Yoo don't need to add bottled lemon juice to applesauce, just tomatoes, figs, Asian pears. Pints of applesauce 15 min, quarts 20. Never heard of needing bottled lemon juice in applesauce for safety. I use Fruit Fresh in mine to keep the color bright. Fruit Fresh is ascorbic acid, though, and not for safety.
The only problem with cutting down the sugar in jams is when you open them. They will mold within a couple weeks in the fridge, unlike full sugar jams, which will keep longer once opened.
Here is how to can applesauce below:

Here is a link that might be useful: Canning applesauce.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2007 at 12:26PM
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steve03234(5 NH)

My BBB has has a recipe for apple sauce that has no lemon juice. Just apples, water and sugar(optional).

Process pints and quarts 20 mins. in a boiling water canner.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2007 at 12:30PM
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ckknh(z5 NH)

Thanks, all! I just finished making 6 quarts of applesauce. I did add a bit of lemon juice (the apples were super sweet), and processed for 20 minutes.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2007 at 1:51PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

ckknh is right that the newest edition of the Ball big book has added to the standard BBB Applesauce recipe the requirement for lemon juice but it does try to explain the new requirement. It states:

Lemon juice is not an optional addition. Lemon juice is added to help preserve the apples' natural color and to assure the acidity of the finished product since different varieties and harvesting conditions can produce apples of lower acidity.

Maybe some new testing's been done?

Dave

    Bookmark   October 3, 2007 at 3:47PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

I think they are hoping the minute amount of natural ascorbic to retain color is why they indicate the lemon juice as an additive to applesauce. Unless you have an aversion to an acid and its an option, you might be better off staying with the BBB recommendation of adding the lemon juice. I have a commercial jar my dad bought at least 10 years ago and its starting to darken, but thats been going on for years, I should toss it out.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2007 at 5:10PM
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mellyofthesouth(9a FL)

I added lemon juice to the apple juice when I made it the other day. I prefer a more tart apple, but I wasn't going to complain since these were free and unsprayed. As a matter of fact, even with the lemon juice it was still a little flat so I added a tiny bit of citric acid.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2007 at 5:58PM
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Linda_Lou(SW Wa.)

Hmmm, I will have to check. Goodness, you would think they would have told us at our last meeting if we had to do that with applesauce, wouldn't you ?

    Bookmark   October 3, 2007 at 7:54PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Linda Lou, I think that sometimes the changes are so many that many can't keep up with all the safety issues. Some apples are acidic, but as like in a tomato, it can be lower than an amount that would make them unsafe to can without some added acid. If it were me, I would go for the acid blend as it is a true acidic level com, comparable to citric alone. Citric alone tends to make the sourness head in only a single direction as to its flavor.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2007 at 9:52AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

I agree with Ken. Given all the new variety of apples there is bound to be some ph variation. And the fact that the book made a point of addressing the requirement in italics in a "heads-up" side box sure to get your attention seems to lend it more importance. The little bit of lemon juice required is max safety with minimal, if any, taste change.

But then what do I know ;) since I maintain that you can't taste the lemon juice in tomato products either. If you didn't know you'd put it in, you'd never know it was there. ;)

Dave

    Bookmark   October 4, 2007 at 11:18AM
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kayskats

my copy of the Complete Book is copyrighted 2006 and YES it says add the lemon juice; however, bottled lemon juice is NOT specified.
my copy of the BBB is also copyrighted 2006 and NO it doesn't call for lemon juice.

Neither book calls for lemon juice when canning apples.

I have no problem adding a bit of lemon juice (in fact, I usually use lemon juice rather than ascorbic acid). What I do have a problem with is contradictory information from what is supposed to be an authorative source.

Kay

    Bookmark   October 4, 2007 at 12:22PM
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mellyofthesouth(9a FL)

In the "complete book" in the back it states that if bottled lemon juice isn't specified then you can use either. If they want you to use bottled, they will specify it. I agree it is confusing.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2007 at 2:07PM
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ckknh(z5 NH)

Well, here's my guess, FWIW - the two things that will retard bacterial growth are acid and sugar. Since applesauce is often made low-or-no sugar, and all apple varieties (apparently) have varying degrees of acidity, lemon juice is added to ensure safety of the finished product.

So, the same requirement isn't necessary for apple jams because they're made with sugar.

Sounds like Ball might have done some testing on applesauce acidity levels and found below-threshold values.

Carolyn

    Bookmark   October 4, 2007 at 2:37PM
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kayskats

so you have apples of possible low acidity and you add juice of unknown acidity? Doesn't sound very scientific to me.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2007 at 3:58PM
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Linda_Lou(SW Wa.)

I will try to remember to send Elizabeth Andress a message about the lemon juice in the applesauce. Will tell you her reply. We have not been told anything different so far at the extension office.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2007 at 8:25PM
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Linda_Lou(SW Wa.)

I emailed Elizabeth Andress. Here is her reply to me :
Thank you for visiting the National Center for Home Food Preservation.
> question -> I have noticed that the new Ball book, The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, page 182, states that lemon juice is necessary to insure the acidity of applesauce.

The USDA process for canning applesauce does not require acidification, and I do not know of high-enough pH apples to be a concern. The same source does not require acidificatino for canning apple slices, so I do not know why they have chosen this tactic for applesauce.
At this time, there is no change in the USDA recommendation:
http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/how/can_02/applesauce.html
It would be Washington State MFP program decision as to whether to use USDA or this (Canadian) author's recommendation.
Thank you for bringing this to our attention, though, in case I find out we now have low-acid apples in the marketplace.
Elizabeth Andress

So, here you have it from her, the lady who wrote the USDA guidelines for home food preservatiion. As far as concerned here we still advise using the USDA guidelines. However, if you feel safe and want to use the others it sure won't hurt anything.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2007 at 8:45PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Great to know linda lou - thanks for going to the trouble to find out for us.

Dave

    Bookmark   October 5, 2007 at 9:52PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

The only way I think it could potentially be an issue if someone is canning bruised apples, either tree-picked or windfalls. In "The Microbiology of Fruits and Vegetables" the authors discuss changes in pH for whole undamaged tree-picked apples and bruised dropped apples. So a fresh-picked Red Delicious is somewhere around 3.98 pH but, and this is interesting, the bruised tree-picked were 4.57 mean pH and bruised windfalls were all the way up to 4.9 mean pH.

Which means if the variety is one which tends to less acidity and the condition of the fruit is less than optimal, it is possible for the applesauce to be low-acid.

Condition is all.

Carol

    Bookmark   October 5, 2007 at 10:11PM
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kayskats

Carol, I wonder if the same drop in acidity would occur with apples that ripen sitting out in a fruit bowl.

I also wonder if the windfall acidity decline is because they would be riper than picked apples (unless you have a windstorm). The bruising would, I suppose, cause rapid deteriation.

BTW, what source do you use for pH levels (I've been using the April 2007 FDA list and some of the references are rather old).
Kay

    Bookmark   October 6, 2007 at 10:31AM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

I'm sure the ripeness of windfalls is a factor in the reduced-acidity but I also know decay (i.e. bruising) exacerbates that.

The thing that strikes me about applesauce is that a lot of people see it as the perfect way to avoid waste with windfalls and use the prime tree-picked for other purposes. Now that I have verification of the difference in acidity, any applesauce I make with windfalls will have the additional lemon juice.

I don't generally make apple butter, but if I did, I assume the same concerns apply. There are apple butter recipes that call for a measure of vinegar. They'd be the better choice for windfall apples.

There's always something new to learn. This question sent me on a real quest. The research does lend additional credence to the NCHFP admonitions about canning with prime fruit, and I'm sure their applesauce times are predicated on that assumption.

I do use the USDA 2007 list, but on a number of occasions I've done additional searching for back-up sources or clarification. Google is my friend, LOL. (And sometimes other engines.) The only frustration is that what appears to be the best sources are often databases accessible only by subscription. I can access the abstracts but not the research itself.

pH is not an absolute, though. It's not just the density issue. I was reading some archived threads on Google's FoodSafety forum, which is frequented by food safety professionals.

At one point a member was discussing how a recipe may have a high-acid pH overall but within that mixture there may be low-acid pockets which may still provide "hospitality" for botulism spores. A spaghetti sauce with meat would be an example. The recent interest on this Forum in hot peppers in some sort of tomato or ketchup-based sauce would be another. The tomato base might be sufficiently acid, but perhaps chunks of pepper are not and the processing time would have to allow for that. Without testing, who knows what it might be?

That's why, when food professionals test the pH of a mixture, they don't blend it and test. They weigh the whole, strain out the solids, weigh those and then take a pH on the solids and one on the sauce/liquid etc. Then they calculate based on what % of the mixture is solids and what % is sauce/liquid. I'm sure that's partly why home-canners are not encouraged to rely on their own pH meters. There are other aspects.

Anyway, this may fall into the "too much information" category, but I do find it interesting.

Carol

    Bookmark   October 6, 2007 at 12:57PM
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kayskats

there is no such thing as too much information.

Ie, I had somehow picked up the idea that to test the acidity of dill pickles, you'd throw everything in the blender and get a reading of the puree.

I had thought about getting a pH meter, but this changes my thinking. After doing what was outlined above, I wouldn't know what to do next.

Ah well... there's always pickles at the deli.
kay

    Bookmark   October 6, 2007 at 4:00PM
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ckknh(z5 NH)

I sent an email to Ball about the lemon juice addition:

"contact category: Recipe questions
message: I have a question about the Ball Complete Book recipe for applesauce on p.182. Is the lemon juice requirement new? If it is indeed a safety issue, why specify lemon juice which has variable acidity versus citric acid or bottled lemon juice?"

And here is the reply that I received today:

"Thank you for your message. The addition of lemon juice to applesauce is a new requirement. We recommend using lemon juice to help preserve the apples natural color and to ensure the correct level of acid of the finished product. We have found over the years the different varieties (hybrids) and harvesting conditions can produce apples of lower acidity.

We use "lemon juice" throughout the book. We usually recommend using bottled lemon juice. However, we only specify bottled lemon juice or citric acid when it is an extreme safety factor because we then know the exact pH/acidity. A good example of this would be tomatoes.

We appreciate you contacting us.

Sincerely,

Consumer Affairs

Jarden Home Brands"

So, it would seem that Ball is trying to cover any variation in acidity, and feels that lemon juice is adequate to cover any deficiency.

Carolyn

    Bookmark   October 11, 2007 at 10:44AM
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kayskats

wish you had asked them about apple slices and apple juice (pp 144 & 190) which do not specify additional lemon juice. -Kay

    Bookmark   October 11, 2007 at 11:31AM
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ckknh(z5 NH)

Kay- You can go to the Ball website and click on "contact us" and ask them. It took about a week for a reply.

Carolyn

Here is a link that might be useful: Ball home canning contact page

    Bookmark   October 11, 2007 at 11:52AM
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kayskats

Carolyn, thanks for the link -- I had missed it. I asked the question and will post the answer

    Bookmark   October 11, 2007 at 12:27PM
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kayskats

well, that was certainly quick. Yesterday I used the link Carolyn provided and asked why lemon juice in apple sauce and not in the apple slice and juice recipes ... here's their answer

"Dear Kay:

Thank you for your message. What we have found through experience is that people make applesauce from the lesser quality apples  although we do not promote this, it is just a given fact. Thus, there is higher potential for mold growth due to the poorer quality apples. Adding the lemon juice to the applesauce is a way we found to help prevent that growth. With this being said, you can leave the lemon juice out IF you are using high quality apples and following our recommended procedures for making applesauce. In addition, we have found that adding the lemon juice enhances the overall quality of the applesauce. People who make apple slices and apple juice donÂt traditionally use poorer quality apples, thus not a need for the addition of lemon juice.
"We recommend using natural lemon juice versus specifying bottled lemon juice because of the information provided earlier. In addition, we would like to note that majority of the people who make their own applesauce are doing so because they want an "all natural" finished product. Thus, they prefer to use products that are all natural. People donÂt perceive bottled lemon juice and citric acid as all natural. Thus, we used the "majority rule" for this recipe.
"We hope this is helpful and appreciate you contacting us."

Carol, looks like your ideas about the windfalls was right on the money.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2007 at 5:14PM
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shirleywny5(5)

I add 1/2 cup of lemon juice when cooking my kettle of applesauce to keep it from darkening.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2007 at 6:24PM
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kayskats

if you are using windfalls, you might want to read this thread .... about addint lemon juice

http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/load/harvest/msg1008000620695.html?27#post

    Bookmark   October 15, 2010 at 10:14AM
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tappahannock(z7 VA)

Hello, I am new to cannng and I just made a batch of applesauce following a recipe at http://www.freshpreserving.com/recipe.aspx?r=126. The recipes calls for only apples and lemon juice, both of which I used.
I added (my own additions) butter and cinnamon, and then followed all the instructions for canning.
Does it seem like my canned applesauce should not be considered safe, since I deviated from the recipe?
Thanks very much!

    Bookmark   October 2, 2013 at 11:12PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

The cinnamon isn't a problem. The butter can be as it impedes heat penetration. Under some circumstances the butter can also float to the top and interfere with the seal on the jar or reduce its longevity.

I would recommend stirring in some melted butter at the time of service.

Carol

    Bookmark   October 3, 2013 at 3:55AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Agree. Butter should only be added AFTER opening the jars of applesauce. Fats (of any kind) are restricted in home canning because they interfere with proper heat penetration by coating and insulating the ingredients, including any bacteria that may be present.

Dave

    Bookmark   October 3, 2013 at 9:14AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Deleted duplicate post

Dave

This post was edited by digdirt on Thu, Oct 3, 13 at 9:39

    Bookmark   October 3, 2013 at 9:23AM
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tappahannock(z7 VA)

Thanks very much to both of you. This was my first adventure in canning, and I am happy to have learned something-- and not poisoned anyone.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2013 at 1:09PM
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