Apple variety for apple sauce?

Hi All. I asked this question a while ago on the other forum, did not get a lot of opinions. I am interested in getting a variety for making apple sauce. I used to have a property with a 20+ y.o. Stark Early Blaze apple, made the best apple sauce. Traditionally we would make large batches and freeze it in freezer bags, tastes fresh and homemade when thawed out.
Stark no longer carries that variety. I would like to find an apple that is ripe in PA in Sept that is good for making sauce.

A perhaps related question - when an apple is listed as being good for ‘cooking’, what all is that supposed to mean? It seems separate from making pies.

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I always interpreted cooking as good taste when cooked so likely good for sauce/butter/baked/pies/etc.

Here are some early sauce apples in Burfords list in his new book. Burford really knows what apples are good for in the kitchen as he grew up in a family using them.

Early Harvest, Lodi, Parmar, Mollies Delicious

Many early apples are good for sauce; any apple prone to mealiness is usually good for sauce, its turning to sauce on the tree!


Whenever I make apple dumplings I use multiple varieties to make it interesting. Last year I tried Paula Red in a batch. It’s considered a cooking apple and not good for baking because it breaks down very quickly. I was surprised that it had excellent flavor after being baked. I think it would make an excellent sauce apple.

Have you tried McIntosh? My family loves the flavor it adds to sauce once it’s cooked, even though none of us like them to eat out of hand.

According to Apples of Uncommon Character
authored by Rowan Jacobsen, the following varieties are good for sauce:
Yellow Transparent
Grimes Golden

York Imperial is known as the leading sauce apple in PA. Must be for a reason, though I haven’t had a good YI in a while-- sometimes they get a funky flavor I don’t like.

Thanks to all for the replies!
Was kind of looking for the end Aug - Sept time frame for my convenience. I get inundated with peaches in August (well, when the polar vortex does not kill the buds like last year), and have some late apples to pick and deal with in October, plus archery season and other activities start to put a crimp in my available time.
I have obtained but not grown early apples in the past (Lodi, Yellow Transparent) that I did not really like for anything else but were good for sauce, but timing was a problem.
The MacIntosh is a suggestion that I have heard before, may have to consider that or one of it’s offspring, though I do not like Macs for eating fresh.
I had heard that York Imp was used for apple sauce in the industry, had not considered it due to the late season.

Anyway, good to get some input, thanks again


I used to work at an apple orchard. The farmers grow some of the most popular, well liked varieties and a few others less well known.

Lots of folks would purchase Macs by the half to whole bushel specifically to make apple sauce. They’re a thin skinned apple that has a very soft flesh–they cook down relatively quickly compared to other apples. When they cook down for apple sauce, they give you a very smooth, creamy consistency. People use them in apples pies too but they make a much softer, watery pie than later tart ripening apples–like Ida Reds, Northern Spy, Granny Smith–that hold more of their shape during baking.

We’ve also used cortlands for apple sauce (Mac is a parent of cortland). The cortlands usually have a crisper bite than a mac–they’re a firmer apple. Unlike Macs, customers seemed to LOVE cortlands for eating as is.

The farmers also grow Empire apples–Mac is a parent of this one too. These are also firmer than Macs and have more of a sweet-tart flavor. We used these for caramel apples sometimes.

yep…I like a good Empire and think it is superior to a mac in just about every way save for one, aromatics.

I find Macs to have a really good smell and I think that would bode well for making sauce. I’ve personally never made apple sauce, but I have enough surplus now that I think it’s about time I start since me and my entire family love it.


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Some interesting suggestions here. Never had a Gravenstein, have read about them. Lifespeed-where are you located and how do they grow for you? Anyone with positive mid-Atlantic or Great Lakes area experience with them?
I like the Cortland suggestion-they are decent for eating as well
I’ve had Empire, wasn’t too impressed with their taste
PaulaReds are not too commonly seen at my area orchards, I tasted them years ago and thought they might have been picked too early; I’ll have to read up on them.

Couple others to ask about-anyone with Jonamac, Jonathan, or IdaRed experience for apple sauce?

eboone…I don’t know how well Empire would do with sauce, but it is a good apple. It does however seem like one of those apples that can be very hit or miss. I’ve bought them in the past several times in a row and all were fantastic followed by several more purchases that were blah. I think Fuju and Gala are other apples I’d classify the same way…very wide ranging quality.

Red Gravenstein grows well at one of the local orchards here in Z6b Maryland. I’m not sure if they spray. These ripen here in August and are only good for about a week or two, with cold storage, but during that fleeting moment they are truly great apples. Like “eating apple sauce” out of hand; an incredible experience. Super juicy, sweet and delicious. But if you pick them and leave them at room temperature, they only keep for a few days.

Yes Gravensteins in my zone is a late August and a very good Apple to think about.

I had good apples off the tree, but it was singularly susceptible to rosy apple aphid in my orchard, to the point of stunting the tree. So I pulled it out. If you are spraying a bug poison you probably won’t have any problem as that will wipe out any aphids. I don’t use bug poison so I have to weed out the varieties that the aphids go after.


You don’t use any chemical insecticides at all Scott?

I was also surprised at the no poison comment. I have to spray my apples for coddling moth. Woolly Apple aphids occasionally make an appearance, but are a lesser problem.

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I’m in San Jose, California, they do fine here. Gravs are amazing for applesauce, pie and fresh eating. They don’t keep so you’ll never get one from a store.

My Gravensteins was on a Espalier with Mac and gala and I have turned both of my Espaliers into just Gravensteins tall Spindle trees eliminating the other varieties. They are an excellent Apple especially for an early season one.

Gravenstein is a triploid variety and needs two pollination partners,
perhaps you’ll get less apples