Canning Apple Pie Filling

with Sharon Peterson

Canning apple pie filling makes for a QUICK and tasty treat!

By canning apple pie filling, you will have a dessert already half prepared.

Do you love pie, but never take the time to prepare it? I'll bet if you start canning it, and have it all ready and waiting on your pantry shelf, you'll have it more than just at Thanksgiving.

This filling can also be used as is. Simply pour into a casserole dish and heat. Serve with ice cream for a quick and easy treat.

You will need to use a water bath canner.


Prepare - Gather Your Canning Supplies & Ingredients

Gather Your Canning Supplies: 

Ingredients*:

  • apples - enough for 6 quarts sliced
  • 5 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup Clear Jel
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 5 cups apple juice
  • 3/4 cup lemon juice

*Edited to adjust to new recommendations for ingredients. When I've make my apple pie filling in the past, I did not use apple juice. My liquid was all water (plus the lemon juice). I've adjusted the above ingredients to reflect the addition of apple juice and more lemon juice. Source: NCHFP.

"Is it safe to use cornstarch in homemade canned apple pie filling? What about flour?"

There may be a safety risk in using cornstarch or flour in your canned apple pie filling. To read more about this question, I suggest you check out this page: Clear Jel vs. Flour or Cornstarch.

Procedure for Canning Apple Pie Filling

Getting preparations made for making the pie filling.

Peel, core and slice your apples. This is where the apple peeler-corer-slicer may come in handy. It will cut your prep time in half. However, keep in mind that it does slice your apples very thin. I like thicker slices when I am canning apple pie filling. 

  • For canning apple pie filling or another sliced apple canning project, I've always recommend using an apple peeler-corer-slicer. But I have noticed that with the slices so thin, the apples tend to get very soft after processing. You may want your pieces to be a bit thicker than the slicer will make. I still highly recommend the slicer. It is an incredible time-saver, but using a knife the old-fashioned way may just suit your needs better.
  • If you use an apple peeler, see instructions that came with it. If you do not have one, just prepare your apples with a knife. 

Make Your Thickener or Syrup

Syrup.

Make your thickener or syrup. Combine sugar, Clear Jel, cinnamon, lemon juice, and nutmeg.

Stir into 10 cups water in a large stock pot. Heat and stir until thickened and bubbly.


If you use Clear Jel, be sure you purchase the non-instant or regular type. Click here for more informationIf you have not used Clear Jel, I HIGHLY recommend it. Really... check it out. I used to list the directions for flour and/or cornstarch as your thickener, but it is not recommended, and Clear Jel is sooo much better.  If you don't have Clear Jel, or don't want to use it, I'd suggest just canning apples plain and making your thickener when you open the jar to make your pie. Directions for canning apples here.  

Hot Pack Apple Pie Filling

Combine apples and Clear Jel.

Combine apples and syrup.

Topping off with extra syrup.

Fill jars and top off with extra syrup if needed.

Peel, core, and slice apples into a large pot with hot water. Bring to a boil for 1 minute. Drain.

Gently combine apples and thickened syrup.

Have you ever been canning apple pie filling and ended up short on fruit with lots of syrup left over? In order to avoid this, add most of your syrup to the apples, but don't just dump it all in. Reserve some and gently stir, adding more as needed. This way you will use only as much as needed to cover the apples.

You will have a nice filling with mostly apples and not too much thickened syrup. If needed, you can always top off your jars with the extra syrup.

Fill jars with filling and remove air bubbles. Leave a 1-inch headspace.

Processing

Wipe the rims clean, remove any air bubbles, and place your lids. For more details on processing, follow water bath canning instructions.

Processing time for canning apple pie filling? Process pints or quarts for 25 minutes.

Help! My apple pie filling turned out runny. What did I do wrong?

Runny apple pie filling may be because of your thickening agent. If you used Clear Jel as is recommended, be sure you got the cook type. There is also an instant Clear Jel available, but it does not hold up to the heat of processing. 

Be sure to adjust processing time according to your altitude.

Altitude Adjustments for Boiling Water Bath Canner

Altitude in Feet - increase processing time

1,001-3,000 - increase 5 minutes

3,001-6,000 - increase 10 minutes

Above 6,000 - increase 15 minutes


For more information on why this is important, see this altitude adjustments page.

How to Make Your Apple Pie

After canning apple pie filling, the work of making your apple pie is super easy. You can buy a pre-made crust and simply fill it with your filling. (Instructions for baking should be on the package.) 

If you are making a homemade crust, preheat your oven to 425. Fill your crust and bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until the filling is bubbly and crust is lightly browned. 

One quart makes a barely filled 9-inch pie. I usually will use one quart of apple pie filling and then often add a pint of plain canned apples. This makes for a very fruit-filled pie. Love it! OR I'll use a quart and a half of pie filling, saving the other half of the pie filling to top ice cream or some such dessert.

I also like to dab on about 2 T of butter on top of the pie filling and just below the top crust.  

Homemade Apple Pie Filling

Questions

"I was canning apple pie filling yesterday an and when I got up this morning, the jars had air bubbles and after taking the ring off, I noticed that the jars leaked out however, they did seal. This is my first time canning apple pie filling and I thought I packed it tight and I left a 1" head space and processed for 30 min. Are these jars safe? I put them in the frig not knowing as I didn't want to waste them. Thank you, Jane"

Answer: Yes, that happens often. What happens is as you process, the food expands, then as it cools, it shrinks, which is what causes the lid to seal down. Your ingredients just expanded more than the headspace. Sometimes that will interfere with the seal, but it is fine as long as it did seal. Be sure and remove all the rings and lift the jar up by the flat lid to be sure it is sealed on and not just stuck with pie filling.


"I am going to can Apple pie filling, in the recipe it calls for 1. cup of cornstarch, I am going to use regular clear jel instead. Do I exchange cup for cup or do I need a different measurement for the clear jel. Thank you so much for any help....Pam"

Answer: Hi Pam. Yes, just substitute Clear Jel cup-for-cup. Be sure you are using regular or cook type Clear Jel. There is also an instant variety that does not hold up well for processing. 


"Sharon I have a half bushel of apples I want to make into pie filling. I need to make it right away while I have help (I have a broken ankle) but Clear Jel isn't available here. Can I use Sure Jel or Ball liquid pectin? I know not to use cornstarch. I can't wait for an online order to ship.
Any help is greatly appreciated. I have used several of your canning recipes with great success. Judy"

Answer: Judy, if I were you, I would can it without any thickener, then thicken it when you want to use it as a filling. Here are directions for plain canned apples

You may have already seen this, but here is my comparison of the cornstarch vs. Clear Jel.

Sharon


How long does home-canned apple pie filling keep?

Answer: Canned apple pie filling should keep for a year, like other canned foods. That recommendation is because after a year, the food quality will start to decline more rapidly.  Some people will keep it longer. However, most fruits are likely become soft and not as appealing after that one year mark. So don't throw it away, just make a point to bring it to the front of your shelves and make a plan to use it up. Only can what you can use within the year to avoid lower quality when you open the jar.

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How to Make & Can Homemade Apple Pie Filling

Page last updated: 7/25/2019.

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