Prepare canner, jars and lids.
In a large stainless tea saucepan, combine apples with just enough water to prevent sticking. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. reduce heat and boil gently, stirring occasionally, for 5-20 minutes, until apples are tender (time will depend upon the variety of apple and their maturity.) Remove from heat and let cool slightly, about 5 minutes.
Working in batches, transfer apples to a food mill or a food processor fitted with a metal blade and puree until smooth.
Return apples puree to saucepan. Add sugar, if using, and lemon juice; bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. Maintain a gentle boil over low heat while filling jars.
Ladle hot applesauce into hot jars, leaving 1/2inch head-space. Remove air bubbles and adjust head-space, if necessary, by adding hot applesauce. Wipe rime. Center lid on jar. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip-tight.
Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water, by at least 1 inch. Bring to a boil and process both pint (500 ml) and quart (1L) jars for 20 minutes. Remove canner lid. Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool and store.
Notes: If you prefer a tart flavor use half tart and half sweet apples when making this applesauce and reduce the quantity of sugar as desired. Tart apple varieties include Granny Smith and Jonathon. Sweeter varieties include Golden Delicious, Rome and Fuji, Gala and Pink Lade make a nice tart/sweet combination.
Adding sugar to applesauce is optional. If the sugar is omitted in this recipe, the yield will be slightly reduced. However; 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 produce, since different varieties and harvesting conditions can produce apples of lower acidity.
Makes: 8 pints or 4 quarts
I can this recipe in 36 1/2 cup jars, still at 20 minutes processing.