A few years ago, when I first started canning, I put up some apple pie filling. It was fine, but the apples were so mushy by the end of the canning process that they practically disintegrated in a baked pie.
I didn’t try again until last fall, when I read a whole bunch of recipes for canning apple pie filling in the hopes of finding the one that would work.
I went with one from the USDA Home Canning Guide that I found on Completely Delicious because the apples were just quickly blanched and then had the syrup poured over them immediately before canning. Do not substitute anything else for Clear Jel. I ordered it from Amazon when I couldn’t find it in store, and I really liked how it worked. It is not the same as Sure Jell or other starches you’ll find.
This recipe worked really well, except that I’ve been using the most ginormous jars from Weck for pie filling. They are way too tall for sensible canning; the water in my canning pot barely covers them. I think if I make pie filling again I’ll use different jars.
Also, because of the nature of the syrup, the contents of the jars expand during processing. I ended up processing the jars twice because the first time I didn’t leave enough room at the top of the jars. Pie filling exploded out of them and made a HUGE mess.
So, in the end I have somewhat soft pie filling again. But, I maintain that this recipe is my favorite of the ones I’ve looked at. If ever I make pie filling again, I know better than to overfill my jars. And maybe I’ll just throw the apples in raw.
USDA Home Canning Guide Recipe for Apple Pie Filling
Yields: 2 Quarts
7 cups (800 grams) apples, peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
1 3/4 cup (350 grams) sugar
1/2 cup (113 grams) Clear Jel starch
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)
1 cup (237 ml) cold water
1 1/2 cup (355 ml) apple juice
1/4 cup (60 ml) bottled lemon juice
Blanch apple slices by dipping them in a large pot of boiling water for 1 minutes. Drain and keep fruit warm in a covered bowl or pot.
Combine sugar, clear jel, cinnamon, and nutmeg (if using) in a large pot with the cold water and apple juice.
Stir and cook over medium high heat until mixture thickens and begins to boil. Add the bottled lemon juice and cook for 1 minute.
Remove air bubbles with a long knife or thin spatula. Wipe rims and cover with lids and ring bands.
Process in a water bath for 25 minutes (see notes for high altitude processing time). Let cool and ensure lids have sealed. Store any unsealed jars in the fridge and use within a few weeks.
Notes: Store sliced apples in a solution of water and lemon juice (2 tablespoons lemon juice per large bowl of water) to prevent browning until ready to proceed with recipe.
Increase processing time for high altitude as needed: 1,001-3,000 ft 30 minutes, 3,001-6,000 ft 35 minutes, 6,001+ ft 40 minutes.
And, of course, I immediately made a pie with it: