pickled + preserved

Canned Apple Pie Filling

It’s fall, and this year we are ditching the usual pumpkin craze and swimming in apples. This shift may be due to this year’s weak pumpkin harvest (and a freezer still full of previously pureed pumpkin). Or it may have more to do with our first family outing. Just three weeks after making her big debut, we took Lula apple picking in Ellijay, Georgia.


To avoid large crowds we chose to use a Friday that Ryan had off to visit B.J. Reece Orchards. There are several you-pick orchards in the Ellijay area to decide between, but B.J. Reece Orchards was the only one open on Fridays which made the choice a no-brainer.

There were only a couple varieties to pick from, but inside the shop there were additional apples to choose. This worked in our favor because you get more bang for your buck with pre-bagged apples. We walked away with half a peck of Granny Smiths that we picked, a half peck of Arkansas Black from inside, a few preserves, pastries, and (of course) apple cider doughnuts. Those suckers take us right back to New England every time.  Some might say they are “wicked awesome” doughnuts…

You know what would be good over those doughnuts? The canned apple pie filling Ryan just whipped up.

Canned Apple Pie Filling Recipe

(Adapted From Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving [affiliate link] and the National Center for Home Preservation)



12 cups peeled, cored, and sliced apples
2-3/4 cups granulated sugar
¾ cup ClearJel® (optional starch)
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
½ tsp ground ginger
3 cups unsweetened apple juice
1-1/4 + 4 cups cold water
½ + ¼ cup lemon juice
7 – 16 oz. glass preserving jars (wide mouth with lids and bands)


  1. Start by preparing your apples. Fill a large bowl with about 4 cups of water mixed with ¼ cup of lemon juice. Peel, core and slice your apples. Add the freshly cut apples to the lemon water to keep it from browning.
  2. Prepare your jars. Sanitize jars by heating them in simmering water, but do not let them boil. Wash lids and rims in hot soapy water. Rinse and dry well.
  3. Once the jars are all set up, start blanching the sliced apples. Most places recommend blanching apples about 6 cups at a time. It makes it much easier to cook them evenly. Blanch each batch for about 1 minute. As each batch finishes, remove the slices with a slotted spoon. Put them in a large covered bowl to help hold in the heat.
  4. In a large saucepan, combine sugar, ClearJel (optional), cinnamon, ginger, and apple juice. Over medium-high heat, bring the mixture to a boil. Stir constantly until the mixture begins to thicken up and bubble. At the end, add ½ cup lemon juice and cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Drain any water from the apples. Gently fold the sliced apples into the mixture.
  5. Ladle hot apple pie filling into warm jars. Leave 1 inch of head room in the top of the jars. Use a knife or spatula to remove any air bubbles in the mixture.
  6. Process the jars in a boiling water bath canner for 25 minutes. When finished, remove the jars and cool. After 24 hours, check the lids for a good seal.

Don’t limit this apple goodness to just pies. Try it on ice cream, waffles, pumpkin doughnuts, warm cookies, or practically anything sweet!

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