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.
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.
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.
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:
- 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.
- Prepare boiling water canner, jars, lids, and bands.
- Blanch apple slices in a large pot of boiling water. Remove with a slotted spoon and keep warm in a covered bowl.
- 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.
- Drain apple slices and fold into the hot mixture. Stir and heat until the apples are heated through.
- 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.
- 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.
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:
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Fit a pie crust in a 9-inch pie plate.
- Pour two pint jars of canned apple pie filling into the crust.
- Fit pie with a top crust in your desired design (lattice, cut-outs, etc.), or use a streusel top for a Dutch apple pie.
- 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.
- Let pie cool for at least 45 minutes before slicing.
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.
My recipe called for cornstarch to thicken the filling. Is it okay to can it?
Hi Donna! You always want to use a tested and approved recipe for canning and follow it closely. Any adjustments could make the recipe not work—or worse, unsafe. We do not recommend taking a standard pie filling recipe and attempting to can it. Please use a tested and approved recipe for the best results!
Also, here’s a bit of info from the post specifically about why pie filling recipes for canning use Clear Jel:
“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.”
I hope this helps! Happy canning! =)
Delicious! Turned out great. Simpler and quicker than I expected. The clear instructions helped a lot.
Thanks so much, Tracy! That’s so great to hear. We’re glad you found the instructions clear and that you’re happy with the way everything turned out! We appreciate you taking the time to come back and tell us =)