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Fall means canning apple pie filling at my house! Just think, when winter gets here, and you’ve got a craving for a fresh hot apple pie, all you have to do is open a jar from the pantry, pour it in your favorite pie crust, and bake.
The work has already been done! The apples are peeled, seasoned, and cooked, and the filling is really nice and thick! Easy peasy!
Homemade apple pie filling does make the best apple pies and muffins. There is really no comparison between the flavor of a homemade apple pie or apple crumble to that of one that is store-bought.
If you have not been canning your own apple pie filling, you are missing out! It’s easy to make and tastes so much better!
Trust me, once you’ve tasted homemade from scratch, you’ll never want what is bought at the store again!
Let’s get started…
What are the Best Apples for Making Apple Pie Filling?
There are several kinds of apples that are great for making both apple pie filling and even applesauce.
My favorite is the Mutsu. This year I waited too late to go to the orchard, and they were all gone. So I used Pink Lady and Cameo instead.
Other great apples for making apple pies and applesauce are Granny Smith, Gold Rush, Red Delicious, Jonagold, Honey Crisp, and the Gala.
Makes 7 pints
- 12 cups of fresh apples – peeled, cored, sliced, or chunked
- 1 1/4 cup Stevia or Truvia
- 3/4 cup Clear Jel (for Cooking-NOT instant)
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 1 1/4 cups COLD water
- 2 1/2 cups UNSWEETENED apple juice
How To Make Apple Pie Filling for Canning
RELATED: Use “The Complete Beginners Guide To Home Canning” and get comfortable with home canning.
STEP 1: Prepare Boiling Water Bath Canner
Place 7-pint canning jars into a water bath canner and simmer until you are ready to use them. Do not boil.
Wash the lids with soapy water and set them aside.
STEP 2: Prepare Apples
First, of course, apples should be washed well. I put mine into a cool sink of water and gently wipe clean with a clean cloth. Some people like to use a vegetable wash; it’s up to you – I don’t.
Once apples are clean, lay them out on a towel to dry and prepare a place on the counter for working.
Next, peel, core, and slice or chunk apples. I use my apple/peeler/corer and can peel core and chunk 12 cups of apples in about 15 minutes.
I will say, though, I remove the corer and slicer from the apple peeler and only allow it to peel. We prefer our home-canned apple pie filling to be more like bite-size “chunks” rather than thin slices. I feel like the slicer slices them too thin. So this is a preference.
After I have run them through the peeler, I use a sharp knife, cut off the ends, and then use an apple slicer/corer to slice and core them. I then cut them into bite-sized chunks.
Cutting off the ends makes them go through the apple slicer easier.
By the way, did you know you can make apple scrap jelly using apple peels, so don’t throw them out? Put them into gallon freezer bags and store them until you are ready to make jelly.
STEP 3: Blanching Apples for Apple Pie Filling
I know you were hoping that you didn’t have to blanch the apples, but you do. I’ve been asked on a couple of occasions if this step can be skipped, but the answer is no.
Honestly, no matter how the apples are shaped, they still blanch quickly and easily.
To blanch, pour apples into a large pot and cover with hot water. Place the pot on the stove eye on high, and leave while making the mixture for pie filling.
STEP 4: Mixing Ingredients for Apple Pie Filling
In a large pot, I use a 12-quart stainless steel stockpot. COMBINE sugar, Clear Jel, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir in apple juice and cold water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly, and cook until the mixture thickens and begins to bubble.
Add lemon juice, and return to a boil. Boil for 1 minute, constantly stirring with a kitchen whisk. Remove from heat and set aside.
STEP 5: Drain Apples
Using a large colander, drain apples and immediately fold them into a pie filling mixture. Stir well until the apples are covered well with a filling mixture.
It’s important this is done quickly. The apples need to remain hot when going into the jars.
STEP 6: Fill Jars For Water Bathing
Ladle hot apple pie filling into pint jars, leaving 1-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Apply the band until it is fingertip tight.
Headspace Note For Apple Pie Filling
It’s important to leave a 1-inch headspace. The apple and filling will “swell” during processing, and the headspace will help to give it room. Otherwise, you’ll have a lot of leaky jars when removed from the canner.
Place into water bath canner on rack and process at boiling for 25 minutes or adjust according to your area altitude on the chart below.
To find your altitude – type into google – altitude, your City, your state. Mine, for example, is altitude Etowah, TN. Google gives me 807 feet. So in my area, I don’t increase processing time.
Remove jars and place a clean towel on the counter. Leave undisturbed for 24 hours.
|ALTITUDE IN FEET||INCREASE PROCESSING TIME|
|1,000 – 3,000||5 Minutes|
|3,001 – 6,000||10 Minutes|
|6,001 – 8,000||15 Minutes|
|8,001 – 10,000||20 Minutes|
If they have leaked, just leave them as is until they cool. The jar will more than likely seal anyway.
Test lids for seal. The center should not flex up and down when pressed.
If anything is going to siphon when processed, it will be apple pie filling. It never fails; I have at least one, if not more, siphon.
What is Siphoning in Canning?
Siphoning is when the liquid is “pulled or drawn” out of the canning jar due to a drastic change in temperature. It prevents jars from breaking. So it’s important to remove the lid from the water bath canner when time is up.
Then leave sitting for 5 minutes with the rack raised from boiling water.
Do I Have To Use Clear Jel for Making Apple Pie Filling?
Clear Jel is modified cornstarch that is used as a thickener for cooking fruits, stews, gravies, and more. It holds well with canning and has a long shelf life when cooked.
It can be heated and cooled multiple times from the hot canner to cooling and storing on the shelf and then reheated in a hot apple pie later.
You cannot substitute cornstarch or flour, or another thickener for Clear Jel.
When you purchase Clear Jel, make sure it is labeled “for cooking” and not instant. Instant will not hold up on shelf life. Most grocery stores do not carry Clear Jel, but it can be ordered. Hoosier-Hill-Farm is my favorite.
Note: Clear Jel is different from Sure-Jell too. So make sure to get “cooking” Clear Jel.
How Long Will Canned Apple Pie Filling Last?
This is the good part. Since making sure that you used cooking Clear Jel, homemade apple pie filling, if sealed properly, will store on the shelf for about 3 years. Of course, ours never lasts this long.
Suppose you happen to have a jar that does not seal; no problem! I actually had one on my last run. Just place the jar in the refrigerator, and it will keep for about 2 weeks!
But trust me; it will be eaten before then! Grab yourself a bowl of homemade vanilla ice cream or whip up a quick gluten-free pie crust and bake a homemade apple pie and enjoy.
Can You Freeze Apple Pie Filling Instead of Canning?
Yes, you certainly can! I always can mine because my freezer space is so limited. But all you need to do is mix the blanched apples into the filling mix. Let it sit and cool to room temperature.
Then ladle into quart or gallon-size freezer bags. Quarts will most likely not fill a pie pan but would be a great treat with homemade ice cream.
If you plan to make pies, I would recommend gallon-size Ziploc bags.
Frozen apple pie filling will freeze well for about 6 months, provided all the air is removed from the bag.
To learn more about safe freezing and how to get the longest life with freezing, my book, the Quick Start Guide to Freezing Food At Home, is really helpful. Grab yourself a copy.
To use it after it has been frozen, defrost it in the refrigerator overnight and then use it as you wish.
So, are you starving for a homemade apple pie using your very own canned apple pie filling recipe? Yum! Bet you didn’t know it was so easy to make!
More Delicious Fall Recipes
- 150+ Impeccably Easy Pumpkin Desserts That Are Perfect for Fall
- Easy Homemade Applesauce
- Delicious Healthy Apple Crisp Recipe without Oats
- How to Make Pumpkin Puree with Fresh Pumpkins
- Oven Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
- 8 Amazing Homemade Recipes For Pumpkin Ice Cream
- 12 cups fresh apples - peeled, cored, and sliced
- 1 1/4 cup Stevia
- 3/4 cup Clear Jel (for cooking)
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 2 1/2 cups Unsweetened Apple Juice
- 1 1/4 cup cold water
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 7 pint canning jars with lids and rings
- Water bath canner
- Fill water bath canner with water and place clean jar inside to heat while working apples.
- Peel, core and chop apples put them into a large stainless steel pot of hot water. Blanch for 2-5 min (they will slightly change color when done). Remove and place into a large colander to drain.
- While apples are blanching, combine sugar, Clear Jel, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large stainless steel pan. Stir in apple juice and water. Bring to a boil stirring constantly, cook until mixture begins to thicken. Add in lemon juice and bring back to a boil.
- Remove from heat pour in blanched apples. Mix well until all apples are well covered.
- Ladle hot apples into hot pint jars, remove air bubbles leaving a 1 inch headspace. Clean rim, and place lid and ring on jar. Tighten to finger tight.
- Process jars in water bath canner for 25 minutes. (Adjust for altitude) When done, lift rack from canner and allow to sit for 5 minutes to prevent siphoning.
- Place on towel on counter and allow to rest for 24 hours undisturbed.
- Label and store after 24 hours.
If you choose, regular sugar can be used in place of Stevia. Still the same amount. This is a low sugar recipe and can be increased to as much as 2 3/4 cups if you prefer.
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Dianne Hadorn is the owner of Hidden Springs Homestead nestled in the hills of East Tennessee. She is a Master Gardener and enjoys helping others learn how to grow and preserve their own food and sharing tips for living a more self-sufficient lifestyle.