August 20, 2010

Canning Apple Pie Filling

We picked apples again this morning and my little helper peeled and peeled and peeled. He loves using my Pampered Chef apple peeler. He makes tractor sounds while he's turning the handle.
We canned a few jars of apple slices in a sugar water syrup. These are great for making fried apples.
But my BIG PROJECT of the day was canning homemade apple pie filling for the first time. I found a few different recipes online and then took a look at my apple pie recipe and did some modifications...
Here's what I came up with.
Peel apples and cut into pie-sized slices. I let mine sit in a big bowl of water with some lemon juice added to keep them from turning brown. You should do enough to fill 7 quart jars packed tightly.
Canned Apple Pie Filling
6 - 8 pounds of apples
2 1/2 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 cup regular clear gel (not instant clear gel)
2 Tbsp. vinegar
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. salt
5 cups water
5 cups apple juice

Mix sugar, brown sugar, clear gel, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt together in a bowl. Put vinegar, apple juice (I used some I had juiced with the steam juicer earlier but bought is fine too) and water in a large pot on medium heat. As liquid begins to warm pour sugar mixture in stirring WELL to get the clear gel dissolve. I even used my hand mixer for this so it didn't clump. Heat mixture until bubbly, thick and hot. Pack apples into hot jars tightly. I was afraid the thick filling wouldn't get between the apples well if I packed them too tight but that's not a problem so pack them in there. You can tell I have a little space in the bottom of my jars that could have been filled.

Ladle the hot filling into the jars of apples. Using a wooden or plastic utensil, poke around in your apples to release the air bubbles and to help the filling get down to the bottom and in between all the apples. Finish filling each jar with additional filling leaving at least 3/4-inch head space. Filling will expand a bit during processing. Adjust hot lid and bands and process in boiling water bath for 20 minutes.

I had a little of the mixture left over and my boys LOVED it with fresh apple slices. Might have to can some half pints of this as apple dip!
So go can some apple pie filling and this winter when the snow is falling outside, grab a jar, make a homemade pie crust and ENJOY the smell and taste of warm apple pie!


The Chicken Keepers said...

We do the same thing! SOOOO good!

Kathy in KY said...

Thanks for the recipe - it sounds delish! It's been years and years since I canned apple pie filling, and now with apple season on us, I guess it's time for me to try again. Especially since it's a BWB recipe - so much easier and less time consuming than pressure canning. Have a good weekend, from Kathy in Fayette Co.

Phiddy said...

Wow the apple pie filling looks great and aren't the little one's smiles all worth it?

I am so glad to see a blog where you are responsible about using the latest USDA standards in your canning. Specifically the clear gel vs. cornstarch or, flour added to the pie filling.

Our apples aren't quite ready yet but, when they are... I will be busy steam juicing them, making leathers, apple butter, applesauce and whatever else I have forgotten. I love to can!

You rock sister! Keep up the good work.

Kentucky Farm Girl said...

Thanks Phiddy, I didn't realize until asking Cindy over at Chippewa Creek-Our Life Simplified about the difference in using Clear-Gel and cornstarch. The original recipe I had called for corn starch but after finding out about the safety issues and the fact that it makes a smoother less watery pie filling after sitting, I made the trip to town to get some.

I remember learning to can from my mom and grandmother who DID NOT always BWB their canned items and later finding out how I was supposed to do it....a little scary! I always take the time to read the guidelines for whatever I'm canning and process it properly. Might just have to do a blog post on this. It amazes me to read some of the recipes people post for canning things and no HWB, BWB or pressure cooking!

Anonymous said...

That is one way to get the little one's involved and if I might be able to say if I could grab one of those jars right out of the computer I would.

Whitetail Woods Blog / Muzzleloader Testing

Jen said...

Awww Man! That looks so good and pretty! I canned some chunky apple topping the other day, need more apples... Enjoy your apple pie filling this winter, yum yum

Julie Harward said...

YUMMY! What a good idea too, that will be fun to have this winter! How cute that he makes like a tractor! ;D

Michelle said...

The apple pie filling does look wonderful. I like your kitchen helper :)

floweringmama said...

Oh that looks so yummy!!! I've been canning all day too! Spaghetti sauce and mustard sauce.

Can you tell me what clear jel is?

Cathy in Kentucky

Kentucky Farm Girl said...

Cathy, here's the best explanation on Clear Gel that I have found....

ClearJel® = ClearJel® starch = Clear-jel Notes: This modified cornstarch is the secret ingredient that many commercial bakers use in their fruit pie fillings. Unlike ordinary cornstarch, ClearJel® works well with acidic ingredients, tolerates high temperatures, and doesn't cause pie fillings to "weep" during storage. ClearJel® is an especially good choice if you're canning homemade pie fillings, since it doesn't begin thickening until the liquid begins to cool. This allows the heat the be more evenly distributed within the jar during processing. This is such an important safety advantage that ClearJel® is the only thickener the USDA recommends for home canning. You can also use ClearJel® to thicken sauces, stews, and the like, though it's a rather expensive all-purpose thickener. One downside is that products thickened with ClearJel® tend to break down if they're frozen and thawed. If you plan to freeze what you're making, use Instant ClearJel®, arrowroot, or tapioca starch. ClearJel® is available either as pearls or powder from mail-order suppliers, but it's not yet available in grocery stores. Substitutes: Instant ClearJel® (Don't use this if you're canning a pie filling.) OR tapioca starch OR arrowroot starch OR cornstarch.

This comes from Cook's Thesaurus

This gives you a good comparison between all the thickeners.

Unknown said...

Looks great,can I use this recipe to freeze omitting the cornstarch,or clear jei,I would like to add them later when I'm ready to make a pie.? I just got finished making 7quarts of another filling a few weeks ago using cornstarch in canning ,then I found out that was a no no,I have to throw those away now.

Kentucky Farm Girl said...

louberry, I think this would be fine for freezing. I may do some of mine that way too just to save some shelf space.

I had to use the first I canned because I accidentally used Instant Clear Gel instead of regular and it's not for and learn! I made some more tonight using the right stuff. It got a lot thicker than the instant and I filled a couple too expanded quite a bit while BWB'ing. Had to redo a couple of them and leave a good 3/4 to 1 inch head space.

Unknown said...

Thanks for your fast reply,I think I'm going to do that today when I get home,I heard you could....but wasn't sure,not making another big when I'm ready to use one I just add the thickener to it and bake.....does 7tablespoons sound right per pie? I can't find clear jell anywhere,half to order on line, have a new online follower!!!!!

Martha said...

I have a TON of apples sitting here waiting to be dealt with so I wanted to can them this year just like my mom used to do. However, I keep seeing Clear Jel mentioned now and I can't seem to find any here in Canada. :( I'm wondering if I could safely substitute tapioca flour/starch, or if it will have the same issues that corn starch will have. ???? Maybe I'll just do a few bottles for us to keep in the fridge and use soon.

Kentucky Farm Girl said...

Martha, I did a few searches for regular clear jel and Canada. Seems a lot of people ask the same question. The closest thing I could find to an answer was They are in Iowa but they do ship to Canada.

Kitchen Krafts - Clear Jel

Here's the link to their clear jel. The tapioca and starch have been discouraged for canning now because they do not hold up well and are considered unsafe. I did make 6 jars using the instant clear jel before I read that it had to be the regular. We are using up those jars first and leaving the others for our winter usage. I hope this helps. I'll keep looking for any info on a Canadian alternative and let you know if I find one.

Canning Homemade said...

Would it be ok to use your apple pie filling as an example of how it suppose to look using Clear Jel for an article I am doing for my site. I will acknowledge your blog and put a link to your recipe. Please let me know at


MJD said...

These might be stupid questions, but what's the process of using the pie filling to make a pie? How long do you cook it for? Is it one quart per pie or less?

We've frozen whole pies in the past, but I think canning pie filling sounds much more ideal since I can just put those in the basement instead of wasting freezer space! (I've done a lot of canning before, but never pie filling)

MrKewl said...

I like your article on Canned Apple Pie Filling. Was an interesting idea and nice read.
I have a review site for Apple Peeler Machines and I would like to post a link here as I think people reading your article would find it of interest.


Eric, Erin, Elsie and Emmy said...

What is your apple in sugar water recipe? Would like to do some with our apples to add to yogurt, etc

Cleo said...

Last year I purchased some cute little canning jars at Savers. I filled them with sewing kits, made a pin cushion on the top, and sold them at the local Farmer's & Crafter's Market -- they were a hit!

Now I am searching for the same jars, and can't find them.

They were short and squat, and had embossed fruit all around it. The cap insert was white and circled with multi-colored fruit.

Jarden/Ball no longer carries them.

Can you help?

ehjenn said...

Why is the Instant not ok to use? I have canned a lot of pie filling this week and it was what I used not knowing it wasn't the right stuff. And I mean a lot! I made about 35 big jars of Rhubarb pie filling! :(

Kentucky Farm Girl said...


Here's a link with some information.

An Education in Clear-Jel

Instant clear-jel is better used for recipe that do not have to be heated. From what I have read, heating the instant causes it to be more unstable and not last as long. As it cools it starts to break the "jel" down. Regular clear-jel is made for canning because it's made to be heated. I did use some instant in about 5 jars of my apple pie filling before I found out and those pie fillings were fine the following winter, I just made sure to use those first in case they didn't stay thick.

NUHW Activists said...

I plan on making this pie filling today. I'm so psyched to give it a try! I'm pretty new to the whole canning scene and was just amazed at the taste of my bread and butter pickles a few weeks back. It's such a sense of accomplishment. Hoping this turns out just as yummy. My question is though, once I have the pie filling, how do I make the pie? How much filling makes one pie? Do I need to prebake a shell since the filling is already cooked? Sorry for such noobie questions, but I would appreciate any tips you have. Thanks so much.




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Lisa said...

I made this pie filling last fall & now I need to know how to make a pie with it.. prebake the crust? Etc. Help!

Lisa said...

I made this pie filling last fall & now I need to know how to make a pie with it.. prebake the crust? Etc. Help!

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