Have you noticed how good apples are right now? It’s because they’re actually in season. The rest of the year, those fresh apples you’re eating were actually picked ages ago, kept chilled and under-ripe, and gassed to ripeness, which is why you’re more likely to get a mealy, sour or bland apples in the spring or early summer. Since apples are SO crazy good right now, I try to take advantage of the season. I go apple picking or hit up my farmer’s market for the freshest, ripest, most flavorful apples. I buy bushels of them and preserve as many as possible. I make applesauce, reduce apple cider to syrup, apple butter, shred apples in with my sauerkraut (it’s crazy good), pickle them, preserve them in syrup, make jam, and, most importantly make liter after liter of apple pie filling. Why? Homemade apple pie is amazing, and when you make it with apples at their peak it’s a magical and beyond flavorful experience. It’s worth canning gallons of apple pie filling even if you just make 2 or 3 pies a year. It’s great on vanilla ice cream as a quick dessert, good swirled into yogurt or oatmeal as breakfast, and SO good as an accompaniment on a cheese plate. Brie and apple pie filling on baguette? Pure, unadulterated bliss.
If canning is still a little intimidating, check out our basic canning tutorial – We made really delicious jam and talked you through it step by step. You can also check out the fantastic Food in Jars blog – SO much good stuff. Whether you’re a complete canning newbie or an old pro, I think you’re gonna like this recipe – It’s crazy easy, quick, and delicious. Plus, it multiplies and divides well so you can make as much or as little apple pie filling as you want. Ready to make pie filling? Ready to become obsessed with canning and convert that spare closet into a canning cellar? Let’s go!
Ingredients – Recipe makes 3 quarts – enough for 3 Apple pies!
- 10 cups peeled and sliced apples
- 4 1/2 cups apple juice
- 6 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
- 3/4 cup Clear Jel (a cornstarch-derived thickener)
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1 Teaspoon allspice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Peel, Core and slice those apples, then toss them in half the lemon juice and water to keep them from browning.
- Prepare 3 1-liter jars or 6 1/2 liter jars by sterilizing them.
- In a large pot, combine the apple juice and the rest of the lemon juice. Bring to a simmer.
- While it heats, whisk the Clear Jel, sugar, cinnamon, allspice and salt together.
- When the juice mix is simmering, gradually stream the sugar mixture (step 4) into the pot, whisking constantly to avoid lumps.
- Bring to a boil, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens.
- When the mixture thickens, add your apples, tossing to combine.
- Fill the jars, leaving about a generous inch of headspace (this filling expands.)
- Wipe the rims, apply the lids, and process in boiling water for 25 minutes.
- Remove the pot from the heat and let jars sit in water an additional 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, remove the jars and let cool! Check the seals. If sealed, these keep up t0 6 months in your cabinet, or 3 weeks open in the fridge. Like it’ll last that long. . .
- Whatever you do, don’t use red delicious apples for pie. Them’s eating apples. I have the best luck using a variety of apples in my pie. I use a mix of granny smith, pink lady, braeburn, and golden delicious for a super-appley, complex tasting filling. Yummmm.
- If you can’t find Clear Jel, don’t use thickener. Just whisk in cornstarch right before making the pie.
- Wanna peel an apple quickly? This guy has a brilliant idea. Alternately, peeling top to bottom is more efficient than going in circles
There you have it. Apple pie filling that you can make while apples are in season and enjoy all year long. Or, if you feel like giving the gift of pie (because seriously, everyone likes pie) Consider wrapping these up with pretty labels and ribbons and giving them as gifts! They make a great Christmas gift, or a Thanksgiving hostess gift. Plus, if you make it yourself, I hear the calories don’t count!