Step-by-Step Guide to Canning Apple Pie Filling

A spoon scoops apple pie filling from a Ball canning jar.
This post is sponsored by the makers of Ball® home canning products.*
Recipe At-A-Glance
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Canning + Preserving1 hour, 15 min
Canning your own apple pie filling is as easy as pie once you have a few tools and a little know-how. Master this technique with our step-by-step guide.

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I’m going to let you in on a little secret: one of my very favorite items to can is apple pie filling! These ready-to-use jars of deliciousness are so versatile that I find myself reaching for them all year long. Of course, you can pour them into a pie crust and make the fastest apple pie known to man, but that’s not where the uses stop.

Canned apple pie filling is amazing spooned on top of ice cream, oatmeal, yogurt, pancakes, or waffles. It’s wonderful topped with a crisp topping and baked. It’s great as a mix-in for muffins or quick breads. Oh, and it also is super delicious just eaten with a spoon—no one will judge you here! Let me show you how to make canned apple pie filling so you can have this multifaceted treat always on hand.

What ingredients do I need for canning apple pie filling?

If you’ve ever made an apple pie from scratch, you’ll recognize the basics of these ingredients, with one notable exception. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Peeled apple slices: any apple will work here, but best results come from firm, tart apples (like Granny Smith).
  • Sugar: granulated sugar or cane sugar both work.
  • Clear Jel cooking starch: this is what we’ll use to thicken the apple pie filling.
  • Cinnamon and nutmeg: for that awesome apple pie flavor!
  • Unsweetened apple juice: to form the saucy part of the filling without watering down the flavor.
  • Cold water
  • Bottled lemon juice: to add a tart balance of flavor and make this recipe safe for processing in a water bath canner.

Wholefully Protip

Using bottled lemon juice is important here because the acidity of the bottled stuff is regulated—meaning we know exactly how much acid we’re adding to the recipe to make it safe for water bath canning.

A ladle rests in a pot of apple pie filling with a canning funnel beside it.

Okay, what in the world is Clear Jel? And what can I substitute for Clear Jel if I don’t have any?

Clear Jel is a modified corn starch that is preferred for canning because it doesn’t lose its thickening abilities during the intense heat of the water bath canning process.

In a standard apple pie, you might use regular cornstarch, all-purpose flour, or arrowroot powder to thicken your pie filling while the pie bakes. But those thickeners would lose their thickening power during the canning process, leaving you with runny apple pie filling, so Clear Jel it is!

Unfortunately, there are no substitutes for Clear Jel when it comes to canning fruit pie fillings. When you are shopping for Clear Jel, make sure you grab “cook type” Clear Jel—that’s what we’re using here in this recipe.

Overhead of a spoon scooping filling from a jar.
*Adding a spoon makes headspace look smaller than recipe calls for, use headspace in recipe.

Can I change this recipe by using other sweeteners or different spices?

Sorry, Charlie. It’s important to use a tested and approved recipe whenever you are canning to keep your family safe from foodborne illnesses. This recipe is directly from the makers of Ball® home canning products, and it has been tested and approved as safe for water bath canning. Any adjustments to the recipe could make it unsafe.

How do I make canned apple pie filling?

I’ll be honest here, the peeling of apples is the hardest part of this whole process! Once you get that part done, it’s smooth sailing. Here’s how to put up apple pie filling:

  1. Peel and core your apples. Cut into slices, and then treat to prevent browning by submerging in a solution of Ball® Fruit Fresh Produce Protector and water or lemon juice and water.
  2. Prepare boiling water canner, jars, lids, and bands.
  3. Blanch apple slices in a large pot of boiling water. Remove with a slotted spoon and keep warm in a covered bowl.
  4. Combine sugar, Clear Jel, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large saucepan. Stir in apple juice and cold water. Bring to a boil and cook until the mixture thickens and begins to bubble. Add lemon juice, and boil for 1 minute.
  5. Drain apple slices and fold into the hot mixture. Stir and heat until the apples are heated through.
  6. Ladle hot apple pie filling into a hot jar, leaving 1 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles, wipe the rim, and center a flat lid on the jar. Apply a band until the fit is fingertip tight. Place the jar in the boiling water canner. Repeat until all jars are filled.
  7. Process jars for 25 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Turn off heat, remove lid, and let jars stand 5 minutes. Remove jars from the hot water and allow to cool for 12-24 hours. Check lids for seal—they should not flex when center is pressed.

Finished pie filling in a pot with a ladle ready to be canned.

How do you make an apple pie using this canned filling?

Making an apple pie using canned apple pie filling couldn’t be easier. Here’s how:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Fit a pie crust in a 9-inch pie plate.
  3. Pour two pint jars of canned apple pie filling into the crust.
  4. Fit pie with a top crust in your desired design (lattice, cut-outs, etc.), or use a streusel top for a Dutch apple pie.
  5. Place the pie plate on a baking sheet, and bake in a preheated oven for 30-40 minutes, or until the filling is bubbly and the crust is golden brown.
  6. Let pie cool for at least 45 minutes before slicing.

Close up of a baked apple pie with a lattice top.

What are some ways to use this homemade apple pie filling?

The obvious answer here is to make a wonderful apple pie, but if you’re looking for some different ways to use up that filling, here are some options:

  • Spoon it on top of oatmeal.
  • Use it on top of pancakes or waffles.
  • Mix it into some yogurt for an awesome breakfast bowl.
  • Warm it up and spoon it on top of vanilla ice cream.
  • Pour it into a casserole dish, and then top with a crumb topping and bake for the easiest apple crisp ever!
  • Mix 1/2 cup into your favorite muffin or quick bread recipe.
  • Give it away as a gift! Everyone loves getting canned goods.
 
A spoon scoops apple pie filling from a Ball canning jar.

Canning Apple Pie Filling

Yield: 7 16-ounce pint jars
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Canning your own apple pie filling is as easy as pie once you have a few tools and a little know-how. Master this technique with our step-by-step guide.

Ingredients

  • 12 cups sliced, peeled, and cored apples (see note)
  • 2 3/4 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup ClearJel® cooking starch
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 1/2 cups unsweetened apple juice
  • 1 1/4 cups cold water
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Prepare boiling water canner. Heat jars in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Wash lids in warm soapy water and set aside with bands.
  2. Blanch apple slices, working with 6 cups at a time, in a large pot of boiling water for 1 minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and keep warm in a covered bowl.
  3. Combine sugar, ClearJel®, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large stainless steel saucepan. Stir in apple juice and cold water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, and cook until mixture thickens and begins to bubble. Add lemon juice and boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Drain apple slices and immediately fold into hot mixture; heat, stirring, until apples are heated through.
  4. Ladle hot apple pie filling into a hot jars, leaving 1 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe rim and center lid on jar. Apply band until fit is fingertip tight. Place jar in boiling water canner. Repeat until all jars are filled.
  5. Process jars for 25 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Turn off heat, remove lid, and let jars stand 5 minutes. Remove jars and cool 12-24 hours. Check lids for seal—they should not flex when center is pressed.

Notes

  • To treat apple slices to prevent browning, apply Ball® Fruit-Fresh® Produce Protector according to the manufacturer's instructions or submerge cut apples in a mixture of 1/4 cup lemon juice and 4 cups water.
  • Recipe courtesy of Ball® Home Canning Products.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 28 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 113Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 3mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 1gSugar: 27gProtein: 0g

At Wholefully, we believe that good nutrition is about much more than just the numbers on the nutrition facts panel. Please use the above information as only a small part of what helps you decide what foods are nourishing for you.

 

 

This post is sponsored by the makers of Ball® home canning products.*
*Disclosure: This is a sponsored post that is part of an ongoing partnership with the Fresh Preserving Division of Newell Brands. They have provided jars, equipment and monetary compensation. All thoughts and opinions expressed remain my own.
Want to be a sponsor? Let’s work together!

Cassie is the founder and CEO of Wholefully. She's a home cook and wellness junkie with a love of all things healthy living. She lives on a small hobby farm in Southern Indiana with her husband, daughter, two dogs, two cats, and 15 chickens.
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