Canned Apple Pie Filling

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By Erin Sheehan | Dec 17, 2013

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I have written about the 25 pounds of apples we gleaned from abandoned local apple trees. Because we have no real root cellar or good cold storage, our next step was to figure out how to preserve them.

I looked through Grandma’s 1931 Successful Farming Cookbook and through all of her handwritten and clipped out recipes. The only recipe I could find that uses a lot of apples was one for apple pickles. I’ll make pumpkin pickles and even beet pickles, but I have to draw the line somewhere: I am not pickling apples! I made apple bread but still had plenty of apples left over.

I searched online to find a way to can apples and came across a canned apple pie filling recipe. Making it turned into a learning experience and was a good reminder that I’m still learning how to can. … If you have extra apples and want to give it a try, I’ll explain the process I used, including the pitfalls.

Canned Apple Pie Filling

3 1/2 cups white sugar

3/4 cup cornstarch

1 to 2 tablespoons cinnamon (according to your taste)

2 teaspoons nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon cloves

8 cups water

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 1/2 teaspoons pickling salt

10 pounds apples, peeled, cored and sliced

Prepare your waterbath canner. Make sure your jars and lids are clean and put your lids in a small bowl of warm (not boiling) water. Put your jars into your canner and allow them to simmer while putting your ingredients together.

Heat sugar, water, spices, lemon juice, cornstarch and salt on stove. Add all to your mixture on the stove; simmer, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes.

Remove your jars from the waterbath and pack in the apple slices (these are uncooked) TIGHTLY. This is one mistake I made – I didn’t pack the apples tightly enough and ended up with a jar 1/3 full of sauce on the bottom and apples floating at the top.

Ladle the sauce from the stove into your filled jars. Use a knife to remove air pockets in the jar.

Here’s where it got tricky for me. The recipe called for 1-inch headspace, which I carefully measured. This was not enough apparently, as the filling expanded and ran all down the sides of my jars once I pulled them out of the waterbath. None of them sealed properly. I had to remove some of the filling from each jar, use new lids, and reprocess all of them. So I’m not really sure what to say about headspace, but if I was to try this recipe again I’d use at least 1 1/2 inches, maybe even 2. I would also consider cooking the apples right in the brine – that way there would be less risk of expansion in the jars.

However you decide to do it, once your jars are full, place lids and rings on, and place jars in your boiling waterbath. Boil in the canner for 20 minutes. Turn off heat, remove cover from canner and let jars sit in the canner for 5 minutes. Remove jars and place on a towel. Let sit undisturbed for about 24 hours. This recipe made just over 7 quarts.

We aren’t big pie eaters but tried the preserves on pumpkin waffles – delicious!

However you decide to use yours – enjoy!