Okay, I’m making a comeback with my pie project after 3 missed months. But no apron this month. Instead, I canned for the first time. Seriously, I CANNED. After Adam and I went apple picking I had bags of apples to do something with, and I decided I would can them for apple pie. Actually, originally I thought I would get apple pie, applesauce, and apple butter out of them. I wildly overestimated how far 5 lbs. of apples would get me. But I did get a yummy pie out of a weekend spent slaving over hot apples and jars. Needs some tweaking for the future, but a pretty delicious start.

I used this magazine for basic canning tips. Then I used this recipe for the pie filling itself (the first comment was super helpful and I used that, too), combined with this and this for tips and some other help. All cobbled together, this is what I did.

First, I bought Weck jars for canning on Meredith’s recommendation. But I got a little carried away and bought 1 liter jars. I’d done the math and figured 1 liter=1 pie’s worth of filling (which was accurate), but I failed to realize how TALL the 1 liters would be. I also bought some 1/2 liters, but I’m saving those for sauce. Meredith had a family emergency and couldn’t come over to can with me, and I can’t help but wonder if she would have been a voice of reason and stopped me from hours upon hours of extra work. But, I’m still pretty satisfied with myself for my first canning attempts.

Anyway, I digress. Jars cleaned in the dishwasher, and then I simmered them in hot water until I was ready to fill them.

I bought a special apple peeler so I could make short work of the 5 lbs of apples.

It still took almost an hour!

Here are the ingredients for the pie filling:

  • 4 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 10 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 6 pounds apples (I only had 5 lbs, so I ended up with fewer jars)

Make the syrup after you peel the apples but before you start slicing and blanching them. You want the syrup and the apples to be ready at about the same time so you can can everything quickly.

Put 8-8.5 cups of hot water, the sugar, and all of the spices in a pot. Dissolve over low heat while constantly stirring. Mix the cornstarch, the lemon juice, and the remaining water in a separate bowl until dissolved and set aside. When the sugar mixture is almost to boiling, pour the cornstarch mixture in and whisk it all together.

I sliced and blanched the apples in batches, 1 minute in simmering water then into a cold water bath. DO NOT leave the apples in the cold water bath for long, like I did. They lose their flavor, and my first batch of blanched apples needed the syrup to save them.

Once you’ve blanched all the apples, the recipe suggests you fill the jars with apple slices and add the syrup later. This works if you have tons of apples and can really pack the jars with them. The first round I didn’t do this, and my syrup sank all the way to the bottom. But in theory, I think it would still work to do apples then syrup. Pack the apples higher than I did here:

Ladle the syrup over the apples using a big funnel, leaving 1/2″-1″ of space at the top without syrup (the apples might be slightly higher). I had way too much syrup here, so I would pack in more apples and less syrup. Otherwise your pies will end up super runny. I would guess maybe 1-2 cups of syrup per liter, and I had more like 3 or 4 here I think.

Run a knife around the inside of the jar to get rid of any air bubbles. Wipe off the rims of the jars with a hot paper towel or cloth to get rid of any runoff from the syrup. Quickly put the lids on and clamp them closed. Then put the jars in a canning pot or large stockpot with a canning rack on the bottom. The jars cannot touch the bottom, the water needs to circulate all around. I didn’t have a canning rack, so Adam had the genius idea of using my pie weights.

Cover the jars with water until they are completely submerged, with at least 1″ and preferably 2″ of water over the tops of the jars. Bring the water to a boil and then process the jars at a full boil for 20 minutes. Remove them with canning tongs (I did buy this kit of tools, which was super helpful).

Let the jars cool for 12-24 hours, then try and check to see if you got a seal. The jars will bubble a lot while processing, but if they leak syrup you probably didn’t get a good seal. The lids should stay suctioned to the jars even if you take the clamps off. If the lid comes right up, no seal. You can clean up the jars, put the lids back on, and reprocess them.

I actually ended up condensing my 5 jars of apples to 3 to pack them in tighter, and I got rid of some excess syrup.

Okay, now time for the pie!

Make a pate brisee and refrigerate it in 2 pieces. Roll out the first piece and place it in your pie plate.

Take one jar of pie filling and dump it into the prepared pie plate. I actually found that I still had a lot more syrup than I needed here, which is why I would suggest less syrup when canning. I drained off a LOT of that syrup and still would have liked my pie a little tighter.

Brush the edges of the pie with a beaten egg. Roll out the remaining piece of dough and cover the top of the pie with it.

Carve slits in the pie and brush the whole thing with the beaten egg. Bake the pie for about 1 hour, until the top is golden brown. Cool and eat.