Reader’s Question: Do you have to remove sooty blotch from apples before making applesauce?

Dear Frugal Upstate,

I was reading your post from a few years back where you made applesauce at your Cooperative Extension’s Open Canning Day.  I was wondering–when you made your applesauce, did you take the skin off the apples first? I am trying to find info about canning with sooty blotch apples and can’t seem to find anything. When I scrub some they come pretty clean and I use a vinegar spray as well. Just don’t want to ruin a whole batch of apple sauce/butter.


T Bobb



This is a great question!  I make applesauce using a food mill–which will remove the seeds and skins from from a soft, cooked apple.  So I do not remove the peels.

So that brings us to the Sooty Blotch issue.  Sooty blotch is a harmless fungus that grows in the waxy layer of the apple’s skin.  It looks, well, like a blotchy coating of soot!  According to the University of Tennesse Cooperative Extension Office:

Sooty blotch and flyspeck is a complex of fungi that grow on the waxy cuticle of apples and pears and reduce the quality of the fruit. . . These fungi cause little or no damage to the fruit, but their presence on the fruit’s surface lowers the market value. Heavily affected fruit may shrivel more readily in storage, because the causal fungi digest some of the waxy cuticle, which normally prevents moisture loss from the fruit.

Sooty Blotch does not rinse off, and in my personal experience it doesn’t rub off easily–but with a scrub brush and just a bit of pressure it comes off easily.

Sooty Blotch

The problem is–when you are doing bushels of applesauce or pressing cider that is a LOT of apples to scrub.  If it is necessary to scrub them, then I’ll do it–and we did that year at the Cornell Cooperative Extension Open Canning Day. . . but I couldn’t help feeling that we were doing a lot of unnecessary work.  After all reference after reference kept referring to the cosmetic nature of damage done by the fungus, and the local cider pressing folks told me that you don’t have to scrub it off before pressing your apples for cider.  Still–I wanted to be sure.

After searching online led me nowhere, I decided to go old school–I called the Cornell Cooperative Extension office nearest me and asked!  It took them a couple of hours to get back to me, but his “official” answer echoed my own gut feeling–he stated that you do not need to remove the Sooty Blotch from apples before making applesauce, although of course they still recommend washing them.

That was ok with me–I don’t mind washing if I don’t have to scrub them all!

 So the last time I made applesauce I didn’t scrub–and the sauce came out with the same beautiful golden color it usually does.

I hope that helps!

Jenn @ Frugal Upstate

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  1. Audrey Allison says

    My question is how do I prevent getting the fungus blotches on the apples? I have a single apple tree. The fungus, however defended on my whole yard, and marked the leaves of some of my flowers, as well as the apples. it seemed to impact the leaves on my tomato plants, and some of the leaves withered, although it did not impact the actual tomatoes. I didn’t see any sign of it on the apples, or in my yard last year, but I couldn’t figure out what happened this year. The apples pictured looked just like my apples.

    • says

      There are sprays you can use–but since I try my best to keep the garden organic I haven’t really investigated those. My suggestions would be to call your local cooperative extension (just use your favorite search engine and type in “cooperative extension” and your county)–they will have someone in the agriculture department or the master gardener program who will have the most up to date recommendations for you!

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