My friend Meaghan and I spent a day together last week canning Homemade Apple Pie Filling. It was so fun to hang out with a good friend, let our kids play, and make super yummy apples! Meaghan went apple picking in Michigan at the end of September and was willing to share her bounty in exchange for teaching her how to can. Of course I was happy to oblige because apple pie filling is one of those ingredients that no cook minds having in the pantry. It can be used in a variety of ways!
Meaghan and I have become great friends in the last two years. We have so much in common and do a lot of the same things together. We both homeschool our kids, attend the same homeschool co-op, go to the same mid-week Bible study at church, and are in the same Mom’s support group.
I enjoy canning and even find it somewhat therapeutic. With our garden here in Tennessee I have canned okra, jalapenos, dill pickles, spaghetti sauce, cilantro lime salsa, cranberry sauce, peaches, jam and Crockpot cinnamon applesauce. I use the water bath method using a large canning pot, wire rack, and canning utensils. If you really want to get into canning, I would suggest buying an all inclusive canning set. When you buy the items separately, it is often more expensive.
I have an awesome canning recipe book from Better Homes and Gardens that was passed down to me from a fellow canner here in Appalachia. This is where I found our recipe for Homemade Apple Pie Filling.
How to Can Apple Pie Filling
The process was a bit time consuming, but I have already made an apple pie with it and it is wonderfully delicious! Here’s the process:
- Peel and slice about 45 small apples. It should amount to about 12-14 pounds, not including the peel and cores. Put all the apples into large bowls of water mixed with lemon juice in order to keep them from getting brown.
- Boil a large pot of water on the stove. Once boiling, cook batches of the apples in the hot water for about 30 seconds. Remove them with a slotted spoon and place them back into a large bowl.
- In another large pot, you’ll need to combine 5 1/2 cups of sugar and 1 1/2 cups of unflavored gelatin. You can also use ClearJel food starch, but Meaghan and I couldn’t find it at any of our grocery stores. The gelatin ended up working fine and we used the generic store brand. You should be able to find it in the jello/pudding aisle or near the baking ingredients.
- Add 1 tablespoon of cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg, and 1/8 teaspoon of ground cloves to this mixture. Pour in 5 cups of apple juice or cider and 2 1/2 cups of water. Cook this over medium heat until it boils, stirring constantly. It should thicken as you stir.
- Once this is boiling, add 3/4 cup of lemon juice and stir another minute. Pour in all the apples and stir it up. It will be really thick! I didn’t have a pot big enough for this step so I had to divide the mixture up into two separate batches.
6. Now, separate the apples evenly among the 7 jars. Make sure they have been sterilized first. When all the apples are divided, then add the leftover liquid to the jars. Meaghan and I found this to be a lot easier than trying to make sure each jar got enough apples and liquid at the same time. We made a BIG mess trying to divide them together the first time and learned our lesson for the second time around. Leave about 1 inch of headspace at the top of each jar. You may have some cinnamon liquid leftover.
7. Gently press the lids onto the jars then screw on the bands. DO NOT twist the bands on too tightly. If the bands are too tight, not enough pressure can build up during the cooking process and the jar won’t seal.
8. While the jars are still hot, process the apple pie filling using the water bath method. Once the water is boiling, add the jars and cook for 25 minutes. Once removed and cooled, check to make sure the lids sealed and then tighten the bands.
Now you have beautiful canned apple pie filling that will last you all year long! The contents will be warm and liquidy, but over time, it will cool and the gelatin will become more solid.
I can attest to how great this recipe is because I have already used it! It tastes great in a traditional apple pie, fried pies using biscuit dough, and even Crockpot apple spice cake. If you have a Pinterest account, pin this image for later but read on to save 3 different recipes where you can use this pie filling.
Recipes for Apple Pie Filling
If you’d like to make a traditional apple pie with a lattice top, I have a great recipe that gives simple but easy to follow directions.
If you like the cinnamon crumble tops on top of apple pie, try this irresistible recipe for 3 Step Dutch Apple Pie.
You can also use a quart of apple pie filling in this recipe for Crockpot Apple Spice Cake. It is similar to a dump cake recipe but the slow cooker does all the work! It is one of the easiest and most delicious desserts you can make if you’re trying to save time or money.
If you have never canned but want to give it a go, don’t be intimidated! The only way we can ever improve our skills is by trying new things! So if you have any questions whatsoever, leave them for me in the comment section. Happy cooking y’all!
Canned Apple Pie Filling
- 45 small cooking apples about 12-14 pounds without cores, peeled and sliced
- 1 lemon
- 5 1/2 cups white or brown sugar
- 1 1/2 cups unflavored gelatin
- 1 Tbsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp ground cloves
- 5 cups apple juice or cider
- 2 1/2 cups cold water
- 3/4 cup lemon juice
- Fill two large bowls half full with cold water. Squeeze 1/2 the lemon into each bowl.
- Core and slice the apples and put into the water to keep from browning.
- Fill a large pot half full of water and bring to boiling. Drain the apples from the lemon water.
- In small batches, scoop the apples into the boiling water and cook about 30 seconds.
- Remove apples with a slotted spoon and put into another bowl. Repeat until all apples are cooked.
- In another large pot, combine the sugar, gelatin, and 3 spices. Add the juice and water.
- Cook over medium heat until boiling, stirring constantly. Mixture should thicken.
- Once boiling, add the lemon juice and cook one more minute.
- Add the apples. Stir for a minute; mixture will be thick.
- Separate the apples equally into 7 separate sterilize quart jars.
- Once the apples are in the jars, add the cinnamon liquid into the jars. Leave 1 inch headspace.
- Wipe the rims and secure lids and bands on just until snug. Do not tighten.
- Process apple pie filling using the water-bath method for 25 minutes.
- Begin timing when the water returns to a boil. Remove and let cool on a wire rack.
- Once cooled, check to make sure lids sealed and then tighten bands.