This delicious apple pie filling is a great way to preserve apples especially those that lack a bit of flavor or crunch to be eaten raw.
Summer is the season for apples.
If you have an apple tree in your garden, you may be overwhelmed by the amount of apples.
And if you’re “lucky” you have apples that lack a bit of flavor or texture.
Canning apple pie filling is the perfect way to “spiff up” those apples and preserve them for later.
Old apples or heirloom apples
Most commercial apple varieties have been bred to look appealing. People tend to favor big, uniform apples with a sweet taste and firm crunch.
However, I love old or heirloom apples. There are so many different types of distinct flavors and textures.
We are blessed with an apple tree that produces abundantly: lots and lots of small to medium apples that brown very quickly. They taste ok but lack the depth of flavor I like when I eat raw apples.
These apples are often perfect for pies. But who can make and eat a bunch of pies at once?
So canning apple pie filling is the perfect way to preserve those apples for later. You can then make your apple pie. Or skip the crust and spoon vanilla ice cream over warm apple pie filling. You might like to top your pancakes or waffles with the canned apples. The possibilities are endless here!
What you need:
Obviously, you need canning jars. My recipe below filled a bit more than 3 pint size Mason canning jars.
You will also need
2-6 TBSP sugar (I am using coconut sugar but you can use any sweetener you like)
4-5 TBSP of lemon juice (to taste, depending on your apples)
2 tsp of cinnamon
up to 1/4 cup of corn starch or potato starch
about 2 pounds of apples
A word about safe canning practices:
For food safety reasons, most people in the US strongly recommend to either water bath can or pressure can. You can find more information here or here. I highly encourage you to do your own research to determine what’s best and safest for you and your family.
Having said that, it is interesting to note that people in Europe (particularly Germany where I grew up) do not water bath can or pressure can. Often they have not even heard of those practices.
Therefore I have dug a bit deeper. I have found an article by a German government agency (“Bundeszentrum für Ernährung”) in which the author explains that botulism only thrives where there is protein. Fruits are considered no to low protein.
Again, please do your own research! While I am describing a simple canning method, you can easily add the step of water bath canning or pressure canning after you have filled the canning jars.
How to prepare the apple pie filling:
I like to pour up to 3 cups of water in a pot big enough to hold about 2 pounds of apples. To that I add 4-5 TBSP of lemon juice. While this adds extra flavor and tartness to my apples, it also prevents them from browning.
Next, I peel the apples. If you like more crunch or “interest” or if you’re short on time, you can absolutely skip peeling the apples.
Now, core the apples (don’t be surprised to find little worms in organic apples, just cut generously around them and the hole) and cut them in little pieces. Add these apple pieces to the lemon water as you go.
Once you’ve cut all the apples, add sugar to your pot. Sugar helps preserve your apples but I encourage you adjust the taste to your liking. Every type of apple has a different level of sweetness. Also, in our family we prefer to eat less sweat. The good thing is that you can always add more sugar later!
Place the pot on the stove and bring the mixture to a simmer. Check when the apples have your desired softness. While you could have added the starch before, it is a bit easier to dissolve the potato and corn starch in a bit of water and add it now. Depending on what exactly you use and how much water you have in your pot, you may need much less than 1/4 cup of starch. This amount also depends on how runny or thick you prefer your apple pie filling.
Now is the time to fill your cooked apples into the sterilized mason jars. I was doing this while our complete kitchen remodel is in full swing. Thus, I sterilized my jars and lids in boiling water for about 15 mins. You can also sterilize your jars in an oven at about 275˚F for about 20 mins.
I like to fill my jars to about 1/4 inch from the top, put on my lid and the ring. Then I put the filled jars on their head. I still have images of my grandmother doing that. After 5 mins, I put the jar upright again. You should hear the “plop” of the lid that indicates that the jars are sealed under vacuum.
Canned Apple Pie Filling
- 2 pounds apples
- 2-6 TBSP sugar
- 4-5 TBSP lemon juice
- 2 tsp cinnamon powder
- 1/4 cup corn or potato starch
- Sterilize 3 pint size mason jars plus lids.
- Fill a medium pot with at least 1 cup of water. Add the lemon juice to prevent the apples from browing.
- Peel, core, and dice the apples. Optional: leave the peel. Add apples to the lemon water in the pot.
- Add sugar and cinnamon to the apple mixture.
- Over medium-low heat, bring the apple mixture to a simmer until apples have reached the desired softness.
- Dissolve corn or potato starch in some water and gradually add to the apple mixture. Adjust the amount of water and starch to the desired thickness of the pie filling.
- Fill the apple pie filling in the sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 inch from the top. Place lid on the jar and screw rings on. Follow safe canning practices.