Who Invented Applesauce (Invention Timeline Explained)

Applesauce is a basic food item that needs very few ingredients to make. At the most, you only need chopped cooking apples, water or apple cider, sweetener (stevia, honey, or white sugar), and ground cinnamon. Although the origin of applesauce is impossible to trace, records show that it was around since the 14th or 17th century, depending on which record you are reading. Nevertheless, the humble applesauce has a fascinating history, and spurred the establishments of several manufacturers, packaging innovations, and recipe variations, which you can learn right here. 

Who invented applesauce?

No one knows who invented the applesauce. However, the first recorded recipe for applesauce was made by Samuel Pegge in 1390. There was another historical record saying that the oldest written reference for the apple was in the Compleat Housewife, a cookbook by Englishwoman Eliza Smith. The cookbook’s publication was in 1739. 

Applesauce’s key contributors (and evolution)

  • England
    First applesauce

    The cookbooks published in England during the 1700s included recipes for applesauce for the first time. However, some people believe that applesauce originated from Central Europe.

  • Eliza Smith
    First applesauce recipe

    Eliza Smith wrote the cookbook called Compleat Housewife in 1739. Her cookbook was the first to have a written mention of applesauce.

  • Nicolas Appert
    Bottling technology

    In 1795, the French government offered a prize to anyone who could develop a method to preserve food. Frenchman confectioner Nicolas Appert spent 14 years developing food preservation by heating. Food items were first cooked in open kettles, transferred into glass bottles, and sealed with corks wired to the bottles before immersing them in boiling water.

  • Bryan Donkin and Peter Durand
    Canning technology

    The two men invented food canning in 1811 as an alternative to breakable glass. By 1819, the process reached the U. S. but people were wary of canned food. Finally, in 1856, Gail Borden, an American pioneer in food canning, made sweetened condensed milk in cans, leading to the popularity of canned goods during the Civil War.

  • Once Upon a Farm
    Applesauce Adventures

    Once Upon a Farm is a pioneer in organic, cold-pressed baby foods. In February 2017, it announced the release of its new snack line, Applesauce Adventures, in three flavors – Sweet As Apple Pie, Spiced Apple, and Straight From The Apple Tree. The applesauce is packed in resealable pouches.

When was applesauce invented?

Based on available records, people consider 1739 as the time when applesauce was discovered. At that time, cookbooks from England has the first records of applesauce. The recipes involved sautéing cooked apples with butter and egg yolks. Further, they called the sauce apple pudding instead of applesauce. 

A brief history of applesauce

Since there is scant information about who invented the applesauce, the generally accepted origin was its first mention in a cookbook. This happened in 1739 when Eliza Smith wrote and published her cookbook, The Compleat Housewife.

Applesauce starts from apples (of course), but, notably, there are 7,500 apple varieties grown worldwide, and yet, most experts only recommend using 11 variants of apples when making applesauce. Apples originated from Kazakhstan, brought to Macedonia by Alexander the Great. Ancient Romans planted apple orchards in Britain around 200 BC.

In America, what they had was crab apples. The 17th-century colonists brought apple seeds to America, with Rev. William Blaxton planting the first apple orchard in Pennsylvania in 1625. In the 1820s, German immigrants who came to America brought apple butter with them. Soon, Americans made applesauce and apple butter as apple production grew.

Applesauce became popular in the American South, where the colonists settled. Before long, food manufacturers such as Mott’s, Musselman’s, Treetop, J.M. Smucker, and Heinz were established and commercially produced applesauce. Manufacturers packed their applesauce in glass bottles, cans, and other packaging materials such as squeezable bags, resealable containers, cups, and tetra packs. They benefited from the inventions and innovations, such as the bottling and canning technologies developed in France and Great Britain. Musselman’s, for example, developed a machine for processing applesauce.

The sauce went to space when American Astronaut John Glenn orbited the earth in 1962. NASA packed applesauce in tube containers resembling toothpaste tubes.

Through the years, people’s love for applesauce did not diminish. One of the applesauce innovations was the applesauce cake, which started during the colonial times in the New England Territories. It became more popular during the First World War when people had to be frugal. Recipes for the cake appeared in cookbooks from the 1900s to the 1950s. The traditional cake was promoted as a patriotic dessert during World War I as people could quickly produce applesauce. In addition, it requires only a few expensive ingredients. The Americans’ love for the cake continues, with June 6 named as National Applesauce Cake Day.

Applesauce timeline

  1. 1739
    Creation of first applesauce

    The year was considered the time when applesauce was discovered because it was the first time the sauce was included in cookbooks published in England. However, you cannot discount the fact that applesauce was used by other people, although it was not recorded.

  2. 1907

    John S. Musselman, Sr. and his two sons, John Jr. and Christian High, founded Musselman’s, a canning company in Pennsylvania. They became suppliers of canned goods and fruits to WWI soldiers. The business grew, and they started packaging applesauce, using apples grown in their orchards. As demand grew, Mr. Musselman senior decided to build their machinery specifically to produce applesauce.

  3. 1930
    Commercial applesauce

    Mott’s, an American company, introduced its applesauce brand in 1930, which was during the height of the Great Depression. The company is one of the biggest producers of applesauce and the first one to introduce applesauce in cups in 1985, making a favorite sauce more portable.

  4. 2007

    Karsten Robbins created “Smashies,” a squeezable packaging material he developed, with the intent of selling it to big manufacturers. However, he later decided to produce his brand of organic applesauce, using his squeezable packaging, which made applesauce easier to carry and consume without mess.

  5. 2014
    Young entrepreneur

    Ethan Holmes was still a teenager when he entered the Jumpstart’s Student Pitch Competition in 2014. He used his grandfather’s applesauce recipe for the competition. He placed second in the contest and used the prize money to establish Holmes Made Foods LLC and produce his product, Holmes Mouthwatering Applesauce.

Where was applesauce invented?

Many people thought that applesauce came from Central Europe. However, most people consider that applesauce came from England, as this is where most of the first cookbooks mentioning applesauce (apple pudding) were published.

Why people love applesauce

  • Good snack food before bedtime

    Toast, applesauce, bananas, and rice are food that is easy to digest. Thus, nutritionists advise eating any or a combination of these four food items when you have stomach problems. Likewise, they are perfect snacks before bedtime because you can digest them easily.

  • Applesauce has antioxidants

    Applesauce contains plenty of antioxidants. These phytochemicals may help reduce health risks like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. You can gain the most antioxidants from freshly-made applesauce, including the fruit’s skin.

  • You get concentrated goodness

    Applesauce concentrates the fruit’s goodness. You can eat it as is or add it to pancakes, yogurt, ice cream, or oatmeal. Moreover, you can use it as a tasty side dish with fried crispy potatoes, chicken, or pork.

  • It is healthier

    You can use applesauce to replace oil when you cook. For every one-half cup of oil you replace with applesauce, you save 110 grams of fat and 900 calories when baking.

  • It can be better than sugar

    You will get 102 calories per cup of unsweetened applesauce. The exact amount of sugar will give you 774 calories. But when you are baking a cake, you need sugar to provide browning and structure to the mixture. Likewise, replacing sugar with applesauce can make your cake chewy, dense, and pale.

Applesauce by the numbers

  • 11The Washington Apple Commission names 11 apple varieties for applesauce, which combines different properties – sweet and mildly sweet (Golden Delicious, Cortland, Crispin, Fuji), tart with just a hint of sweetness (McIntosh, Jonamac, Gravenstein), and crisp, tangy, and sharp (Rome, Ida Red, Liberty, Braeburn). 
  • 26. 3An average person in the U.S. consumes 26.3 pounds of apple, based on the 2019 statistics. On the other hand, Europeans eat 46 pounds of apple each year. 
  • 42A bushel of apple weighs 42 pounds (up to 48 pounds). It will produce 12 to 15 quarts of applesauce. 
  • 51A 122-gram (one-half cup) serving of unsweetened applesauce will give you 51 calories.
  • 5,000The United States has more than 5,000 apple growers, according to the U.S. Apple Association. They produced 9.8 billion pounds in 2021. One-third of the crop goes into the production of applesauce, apple juice, packaged apple slices, apple butter, etc. Two-thirds of the crop are sold and eaten fresh.

Five facts about applesauce

  • Applesauce in space

    In 1962, John Glenn became the first American astronaut to orbit the earth. NASA’s prepared meal for him was applesauce in squeezable tubes, water-soluble sugar tablets, and pureed beef and vegetables in a tube.

  • Remedy for diarrhea

    Applesauce is rich in pectin, making it a good remedy for diarrhea especially in children. Applesauce is not part of the diet regimen for children with stomach problems, which includes toast, applesauce, rice, and bananas.

  • Discovery of the apple

    Alexander the Great of ancient Greece discovered dwarfed apples in an area now known as Kazakhstan in 328 BC and brought it back to Macedonia. The apple spread across Europe and 17th century colonists brought it to North America. Boston had the first apple orchard in the U.S., planted by Rev. William Blaxton in 1625.

  • Applesauce cake

    Americans started preparing applesauce cake during the early colonial times in New England. American cookbooks in the 1900s to 1950s included various applesauce recipes. Americans honored it with the Applesauce Cake Day every June 6. The first mention of the special day was in “Everyday Food in Wartime,” written in 1917 by Prof. Mary Swartz Rose. 

  • Apple turning brown

    After peeling and slicing an apple, it turns brown. The apple is not spoilt. It turned brown due to oxidation because the apple was exposed to air. You can prevent this occurrence by sprinkling or rubbing lemon juice all over the apple. 

FAQs about applesauce

  • Why do people cook pork chops and applesauce?

     Since the 1890s, many Americans have consumed pork chops and applesauce. But combining applesauce with pork dates back to ancient times, as the recipe is a traditional dish in British and Spanish cuisine. Aside from the dish being comfort food, the apple’s acidity helps people digest pork and other fatty meats better.

  • Is eating fresh apples healthier than eating applesauce?

     Applesauce is more beneficial because it is a high-calorie food. Applesauce is denser in calories than fresh apples. For example, one cup of chopped fresh apples gives you 65 calories. On the other hand, one cup of applesauce has 167 calories, providing you with more energy to metabolize the food you eat.

  • What are cooking apples?

    If you know your apples, you know that there are cooking apples. These apples are better suited for cooking instead of eating. Cooking apples have lower sugar content. Likewise, they are tarter than eating apples. Further, you can keep them longer than other types of apples. 

  • What is apple butter?

    Apple butter is a denser spread made from sugar, spices, apples, and apple juice or cider, simmered over low heat for several hours or about two days to make a thicker spread. Apple butter is a favorite of people of Pennsylvania Dutch nationalities. Apple butter originally came from Germany, Holland, and Belgium. 

  • Can you eat apple seeds?

    The seeds of apples contain a plant compound called amygdalin. It is part of the seeds’ chemical defenses. The compound is harmless if the seeds are intact. But, if the seeds are damaged or chewed, the amygdalin turns into hydrogen cyanide, which is poisonous. Apple seeds contain high amounts of amygdalin. Thus, eating apple seeds is lethal.

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