So your applesauce has turned a peachy-pink color, and you have no idea if it is still safe to eat and what to do now? Luckily, this is not anything you need to worry about. Some recipes even call for certain types of apples to make pink applesauce. But what caused your applesauce to turn pink?
Applesauce will be yellow or pink, depending on the varieties of apples used in the cooking process. Red-skinned apples have anthocyanins which, when exposed to heat, will turn the applesauce pink. The more skin on the red apples, the deeper pink they will make the applesauce.
When you make homemade applesauce, you expect your delicious treat to turn a rich golden yellow—the color of fall harvests. Sometimes, your applesauce can come out quite a different shade. If you’ve ever had your golden applesauce turn pink after canning, read on for an explanation.
What Causes Applesauce to Turn Pink?
Applesauce can turn out pink depending on the kind of apples used. The skins of the apples can add color to the sauce, so leaving the skin on red apples will turn the sauce pink. Even if there is only a little bit of skin left, this could be enough to trigger the color deepening.
Sometimes you can have applesauce turn pink, even though the apples were peeled entirely. This is because the red pigment can also lie under the skin.
The color change could come from an enzyme reaction when the apple tissue breaks apart. When the anthocyanidins break down, this can change the pigment in the plant fibers. It can be more likely to happen with very ripe apples and those that grew in a hot, dry season.
But added color could come from other sources. If you previously cooked a deep red fruit such as plums and then added the apples without adequately removing the stain, that could affect the color of your applesauce.
Pink applesauce is very popular, and there are many classic recipes. Some cooks add red fruits like cranberries to intensify the pink shade.
Can You Overcook Pink Applesauce?
Applesauce, whether pink or golden in color, is usually cooked until the texture is smooth and thick. This process usually takes 30-40 minutes of stirring over low heat. But what happens if you overcook your applesauce?
If you overcook your pink applesauce, the sauce’s flavour will change. It will lose some of its tartness and lose its flavor. A long cooking time may also leave you with much darker applesauce—like apple butter.
Cooking apples means heat is applied to the anthocyanins in and under the skin, and these natural pigments appear red. (sometimes blue or purple in some plants).
Thanks to this, a longer cooking time could turn applesauce pinker or browner. Overcooking can, therefore, also change the color of your applesauce.
How Do You Know if Pink Applesauce Has Gone Bad?
If you notice either of these, you should bin the applesauce.
Sometimes you may notice a thin brownish layer on the top of your pink applesauce. This browning is caused by enzyme reactions and shouldn’t be anything to concern you. Think of it the same way a cut apple’s white flesh turns brown if you leave it.
You can scoop the brown layer if you find it unappealing or stir it into the applesauce.
Homemade applesauce can be kept in the fridge opened for about ten days; afterwards, you should throw it away. If you can make your homemade pink applesauce, expect it to last a year.
Why Did My Applesauce Turn Brown?
Sometimes your canned pink applesauce may turn brown in the jar. Browning of applesauce is often caused by an enzyme reaction. When the applesauce has too much air, it will cause the exposed applesauce to turn brown.
You can help prevent this by cooking your applesauce to the right temperate, as heat denatures the enzyme. Home canners suggest heat should be applied for at least 15 minutes to destroy the enzyme that causes browning.
Adding lemon juice also helps prevent this process. You can use ascorbic acid instead of lemon juice. Some people have had success using a vitamin C tablet instead.
Avoid having too much airspace at the top of your canning jar. The more air in your jar, the higher the chance your sauce will brown.
If your applesauce has turned brown but still smells fine and has no sign of mold or rot, it is safe to eat.
Another thing to remember is that the longer your cooked applesauce sits before canning, the longer it will be exposed to air. To help prevent browning, get your cooked applesauce canned as quickly as possible.
How Can I Make My Applesauce Pink?
Pink applesauce is a beautiful touch to the dinner table. You can easily make your own pink applesauce by choosing the correct apples. Red apples contain anthocyanins in and under their skin, giving them their deep, rich color.
By retaining some of the skin when you cook your apples, you will end up with pink applesauce.
Here are some excellent apples to use when making pink applesauce. The redder the apple, the deeper the color of your applesauce. You can use any red apples, even combine varieties for the perfect taste:
- Red Delicious Apples
- Gala Apples
- Pink Lady Apples
- Macoun Apples
- Honeycrisp Apples
- Fuji Apples
- Spartan Apples
- Cortland Apples
- Empire Apples
Some home canners add to the richness of the color by cooking a handful of cranberries or plums with their applesauce to give an extra boost of deep pink. A few plums in the mix are especially helpful if you have a mixed bag of apples, some green or yellow.
Do You Need Lemon Juice to Make Applesauce Pink?
Lemon juice is often added in many pink applesauce recipes. The acid in lemon juice (or ascorbic acid, which is sometimes used as a substitute) helps prevent the enzymes in your apples from browning your applesauce.
While it won’t make your sauce pinker, it will help prevent discolouration. Lemon juice also adds a bit of tart flavor, and lemon juice and salt can help the apples break down faster as they cook.
Some home canners suggest submerging peeled apples in an ascorbic acid solution before cooking them to help prevent browning.
Pink applesauce is simply a color variant of applesauce, usually from using red-skinned apples but sometimes from including plums or cranberries in the cooking process.
Martha Stewart made pink applesauce famous, but it was around long before that. Pink applesauce is perfectly safe to eat and visually appealing. You can prevent pink applesauce from browning by cooking it for the correct amount of time, adding lemon juice, and minimising air contact.