Homemade Apple Pie Filling

by Daisy

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It’s apple time and I found a recipe that makes truly mouth-watering apple pie filling. It is great to be able to make a crust, pop open a can of homemade pie filling and voila!– homemade apple pie, so superior to store versions.

I INTERRUPT THIS POST TO ASK A QUESTION: IF THIS IS NOT THE KIND OF APPLE PIE FILLING YOU ARE LOOKING FOR, PLEASE DROP ME A LINE IN THE COMMENTS. Are you searching for a smaller recipe, one that doesn’t require processing for canning, other ingredients such as tapioca, etc.? This is one of our most frequently searched for (Googled) posts and I would love to know how to provide the kind of apple pie recipes people are searching for. So, if you have a moment, please give us some feedback by clicking on the word “comment” at the end of this post and describing the sort of homemade apple pie filling your heart desires. THANK YOU!

Here is the recipe. It is from allrecipes.com:

Canned Apple Pie Filling
submitted by rhonda

4 1/2 cups white sugar
1 Cup cornstarch
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons salt
10 cups water
3 T. lemon juice
6 pounds apples

1. In a large pan, mix sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add salt and water and mix well. Bring to a boil and cook until thick and bubbly. Remove from heat and add lemon juice.
2. Sterilize canning jars, lids and rings by boiling them in a large pot of water.
3. Peel, core, and slice apples. Pack the sliced apples into hot canning jars, leaving a 1/2-3/4 inch headspace.
4. Fill jars with hot syrup and gently remove air bubbles with a plastic knife (metal may promote cracks in the jars).
5. Put lids on and process in a water bath canner for 20 minutes.

I made a couple of alterations to the recipe based on my personal preferences and experiences with canning: (1) The recipe called for food coloring which I find unnecessary. (2) I use a plastic instead of a metal knife for removing bubbles which can cause jars to crack. (3) I find I need a little more headspace (3/4 in.) because with quart jars and large pieces of fruit a little more space can help prevent overflow when processing.

A few photos:
Here are the prepared apples. Most of the time, I leave the peel on when I have homegrown, organic apples. This time I peeled them for an extra tender pie filling, but I didn’t throw out the peels. (See my upcoming post on applesauce made from peels and cores.)

Next, make the syrup. The stage shown is after the cornstarch has begun to cook. Before this happens the mix is cloudy.

The jars packed with apples and ready for the syrup:

I would show you a homemade pie, but it was eaten so fast I didn’t have time to get my camera.

Tags: , pie filling, , , , home preserving

Disclaimer: This post may contain a link to an affiliate.

{ 55 comments… read them below or add one }

LadyK August 29, 2008 at 7:47 pm

Wow, those jars of apple pie filling look so scrumptious! I haven’t made a pie in so long, I really must make a plan to do that this weekend. 🙂

Thank you for stopping by my blog too!

Missy September 7, 2008 at 2:05 am

My mouth is watering! I have 8more baby pounds before I can try the apple pie, though! Blackberry jam also on the to-do list!
Love the website…wonder if you gals could do a question/answer on vege gardening problems-like why my tomatoes appeared to have split open before ripe…or maybe a link to Carl Wayne Hardeman (he’s the head of the community garden in C’ville).
Anyhoo, keep up the good work!

Jane Gray Marcella July 26, 2009 at 3:03 pm

I enjoyed your website….we farm in Glenn county, CA along the Sacramento river near Chico. We are surrounded by dairies and orchards. We farm almonds and Gravenstein apples. I am no longer willing to pay the electric bill for storing our frozen apples that we bake into pies for our little bakery business, so was researching the putting-up of apples in the form of premade pie filling. I always pre-cook my frozen apples for pie fillings, add some tapioca flour, butter, brown sugar and spices and fill the crust right out of the pan. Our pies are wonderful, but I am longing to be able to merely open a jar, add the butter and bake without the pre-cooking/thawing procedure. Thanks for the input…..Jane Gray Marcella, BRIARGATE FARMS.

Tomato Lady July 27, 2009 at 2:02 pm

Jane Gray Marcella–Your farm sounds idyllic. I hope you have good results with the pie filling you develop. I love tapioca in fruit pies. I know it will be delicious!
P.S. My great aunt made her pies from fruit she dried on the roof (West TX). Somehow I don’t think the health department nowadays would condone that, but her pies were the best!

Rina September 8, 2009 at 3:42 pm

Hello, I made this recipe last year, and I am going to use it again this year. It was the best pie filling I had ever tried making, and it tasted very good as well. I would recommend this to anyone. My friends at work have been asking when I will be making pies again with the apples off my tree. Thanks for the great recipe.

Reneé September 11, 2009 at 4:40 pm

I came across your site looking how to make pre-made pie filling, I was looking for a version I can freeze, I’m not into canning yet : ) but your’s sure looks tastey!

ps – I love your stove, very retro : ) (at least, I’m assuming it’s a stove?)

Tomato Lady September 12, 2009 at 12:28 am

Renee–Thank you. You could freeze this, too. And, thanks, I love my stove. It’s built like a tank and I know it’s just on the verge of coming back into style any day now.

Lorry October 9, 2009 at 5:58 pm

I made apple pie filling last year for the first time, canned a TON of it. My Mom wants us to do this again, and I have misplaced the recipe. It called for Tapioca instead of cornstarch- do you know how I would substitute tapioca??

Tomato Lady October 10, 2009 at 8:38 am

Lorry–Hi! Here is one recipe that looks promising. You could adjust the size of the batch: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Apple-Pie-Filling-II/Detail.aspx
Does this sound like what you were looking for?

Melanie October 27, 2009 at 12:44 pm

I am interested in one that does’t require processing..and that uses tapioca.. have heard of it from a friend.. but never got the recipe.. thank you so much for any help you can offer..

damaris davis July 12, 2010 at 1:45 pm

I’ve done some canning, but I’m just not up to taking the heat these days. Can a filling be made and kept frozen?

Thanks so much

damaris davis July 12, 2010 at 1:46 pm

I submitted my question but I don’t understand what “your comment is awaiting moderation” means!

Tomato Lady July 12, 2010 at 2:01 pm

DD–I understand. Canning is an undertaking, isn’t it? Great question–I believe the filling would be delicious frozen.

Tomato Lady July 12, 2010 at 2:04 pm

DD–The first time someone comments, their comment waits for me or Ivory to approve it. This is a way to help reduce spam, or unwanted comments, like unsolicited advertising or just mischief. Once we see you are a real person making a real comment and not a spammer, we approve the comment and thereafter when you comment on our site, your comment will appear without the same to-do. Thanks for commenting!

Rosemarie August 11, 2010 at 1:50 pm

This does look delicious, and I plan on trying it,but what I am REALLY looking for is a dry pack method, one that uses a LOT less water. I used to have a recipe but lost it; any ideas?!?!?!
Thanks 🙂

Tomato Lady August 11, 2010 at 2:34 pm

Rosemarie–Are you using dried apples? I’m unfamiliar with dry pack canning for anything but low-moisture goods. Hope you find the solution you are looking for, it is so frustrating to lose that one recipe you really loved.

Amy G August 12, 2010 at 10:04 am

I just used this recipe to can some apples last night (found it somewhere else, but the same)

I had a question. I TOTALLY forget to add the lemon juice after I took the liquid off the heat. (I used lemon water on the apples earlier to prevent browning.)

I didn’t relize I forgot until I was half way through the water bath.

Are my cans okay? email me at rockinmomma @ rockindeals4you . com

Also if it’s okay, I’d like to link to your page and use this recipe on my blog.

Rosemarie August 21, 2010 at 12:22 pm

No, I’m not using dried apples; just plain old-fashioned real ones from the tree. I’m doing it right now and have forgotten to check this B4, so will try it and see how it goes. I will let you all know how it works out and maybe post the recipe. Problem is I usually just by-guess-and-by-golly it, if you know what I mean! Meanwhile I will keep looking for a bonified recipe to replace mine.

Shell September 21, 2010 at 9:16 am

I just had a question about corn starch verses ClearJel Starch. Is there a difference in taste? or, is ClearJel Starch safer to use as opposed to corn starch?

Tomato Lady September 22, 2010 at 8:45 pm

Shell–I’m afraid I’m not familiar with ClearJel Starch. Since starch is pretty much flavorless, though, I imagine it’s similar to cornstarch. Thank you!

pp September 24, 2010 at 3:42 pm

Hi I’m going to try this. Looks very tastey. Haven’t canned for a long time. Do you have to blanch the sliced apples? Thanks for your time.

Tomato Lady September 24, 2010 at 4:24 pm

pp–I don’t blanch the apples, they seem to do fine without it. Happy canning!

Kimarie @ The Cardamom's Pod October 9, 2010 at 1:31 pm

Thanks for this! I have a bunch of leftover apples that won’t fit in my dehydrator. My family LOVES the “fried apples” from Cracker Barrel – I think this recipe will fit the bill.

Love your blog name and header – Rhode Island Reds?

Giselle Kennedy November 10, 2010 at 11:45 am

This looks like the recipe I have been searching for! But I just want to make 3 quarts – would I process the jars in the water bath for the same amount of time?

thank you!

Tomato Lady November 10, 2010 at 12:13 pm

Yes, Giselle, it’s the same no matter how many jars. Hope you enjoy your apple pies!

Jenny November 21, 2010 at 10:55 pm

Hello. Your recipe looks wonderful but what if I don’t want to can? I want to make a pie for Thanksgiving and I don’t even own a mason jar. My sister-in-law told me her Grandma used to make the BEST apple pie and the inside was all gooey and carmely, like canned filled from the store but homeade and MUCH better. Can I follow your recipe but not can it?

Tomato Lady November 22, 2010 at 9:23 am

Jenny–Sure! Just either cut it down, freeze some of the filling, or make lots of pies!

Betty Blondeau November 28, 2010 at 10:41 am

I just want to make one pie. Do you have your version in one pie measurements? It looks fabulous.

Tomato Lady November 28, 2010 at 12:56 pm

Betty Blondeau–I’ve never cut this one down, but I do have this: http://www.littlehouseinthesuburbs.com/2008/11/new-favorite-apple-pie-recipe.html

Jennifer September 21, 2011 at 1:32 pm

This looks oh so good but 1 L cans would be too large for our families use. I am new to canning. Would I have to alter the recipe to can in 250 mL or 500 mL jars? How do I adjust the process time for the smaller sized cans?

Thank You

Tomato Lady September 21, 2011 at 2:29 pm

Jennifer–Just use the size jar you want and proceed with the recipe as is. For half quart jars, I would still say 20 minutes process time. Good luck!

Debbie Kingsland September 25, 2011 at 1:03 pm

I followed your recipe for apple pie filling last year (2010), but found that I had way to much liquid when making a pie and it made my bottom crust mushy. Any idea what I need to do differently?

Tomato Lady September 25, 2011 at 2:46 pm

Debbie Kingsland–Sorry about the mushy crust. The only thing I can think of regarding the amount of liquid in the finished product would have to do with how tightly packed the apples are in the jars. I slice them pretty thinly and really jam them in there beyond what I think will go–there’s always room for one more! It’s conceivable the crust itself could have something to do with it. Cook’s Illustrated came out with an unusual recipe to combat this problem. Here’s a review and the recipe: http://www.thekitchn.com/thekitchn/recipe-review/recipe-review-the-cooks-illustrated-vodka-pie-crust-068851
If the apples are packed more densely and there still seems to be too much juice when poured into the crust, you could try spooning some out, save and warm up to pour over when you serve the pie.

Schooled By Grace and Laurel September 30, 2011 at 3:50 pm

thanks for this apple pie filling recipe. it is fantastic! last week we made 1/2 a batch and ate a “test” pie. divine. we have 7 quarts put away now. what happens in the event of some overflow during the hot water bath? if the jar is sealed, can it just be washed and have a clean band put on?

Tomato Lady September 30, 2011 at 4:07 pm

Schooled By Grace and Laurel–I think the most important thing is if the seal was able to “make” unobstructed by the filling. HOWEVER, to be on the safe side (and we know how precious jars of pie filling are), I would try to find a place in the refrigerator if possible and use those first. They’re probably all right, but you might have to sacrifice and double up on your pie consumption for a while to free up your fridge space. On the bright side, you will still have plenty of freezer space for the vanilla ice cream to help the pie go down.

Jamie October 7, 2011 at 8:35 am

According to the USDA using cornstarch in place of Clear Gel is not recommended, and can be dangerous.

I’d like more canning recipes that don’t use cornstarch.

Paula October 8, 2011 at 7:25 pm

A question on how much to use for a pie? A quart? I would like to can this into pint jars, but is a pint enough for a regular say 9″ pie? And per Jamie’s comment…I have read about both cornstarch and Clear Gel..why would cornstarch be dangerous?

Paula October 8, 2011 at 7:30 pm

Can I substitute splenda for the sugar in this recipe to make it lower calorie?

Tomato Lady October 8, 2011 at 8:14 pm

Paula–I use a quart for one pie. You would have to open two jars for one pie under ordinary circumstances. Clear Jel is a “modified corn starch.” It is more stable, that is, it stays the same under canning conditions, more so than cornstarch. In this recipe, I have experienced some separation of the liquid–some syrupy and some gelatinous in the same jar. It seems more of an aesthetic thing because once it’s baked in a pie it’s all melts down and doesn’t seem to matter. If it is a concern, substitute clear jel for the cornstarch.

Tomato Lady October 8, 2011 at 8:15 pm

Paula–Here’s what the experts have to say on this:

amanda October 29, 2012 at 3:10 pm

I just made up a batch! Yeah so excited. This is my first year of canning so everything is a learning experience. I cut my wedges pretty big, so learned that thinner would have been better. And forgot my lemon juice too. the sauce is very tasty, but next time think I’ll add a touch more spices. My mom helped me for a bit and she said this recipe is a lot easier than what she used to do and said “it’s a keeper!” Now can’t wait to make a pie.

Tina Miller December 7, 2012 at 7:55 pm

Hi, I found your recipe on Pintrest and made it last night. I love it! I did add more cinnamon, since I LOVE all things cinnamon, and I had some apple juice so I substituted 3 cups of the water for that and it came out wonderful! So much more flavor than the cans you get at the store. Thank you so much for your help.

Daisy December 8, 2012 at 7:14 am

Tina Miller–I’m very glad you like the recipe. You’re making me want to make it again myself. I may have to add that to my to do list, and I like your mods!

April October 25, 2013 at 10:30 am

How long do these last once canned??

Daisy October 25, 2013 at 1:24 pm

April–Here is the word from the National Center for Home Food Preservation: Properly canned food stored in a cool, dry place will retain optimum eating quality for at least 1 year. Canned food stored in a warm place near hot pipes, a range, a furnace, or in indirect sunlight may lose some of its eating quality in a few weeks or months, depending on the temperature. Dampness may corrode cans or metal lids and cause leakage so the food will spoil.
This should apply to properly canned pie filling. Thanks for your question and happy canning!

Brianna Nash November 13, 2013 at 11:15 am

My husband loves this recipe! Instead of making a pie crust though, I make Snickerdoodle cookie dough and roll it really thin and make that the crust instead. It is FANTASTIC! Just sprinkle a little cinnamon on top before baking. 🙂

Daisy November 14, 2013 at 6:08 am

Brianna Nash–Wow, that sounds decadent!

Eileen September 15, 2014 at 8:03 pm

For folks wondering about freezing instead canning the filling, I thought I’d contribute what I just learned. A product called Instant Clear Jel apparently does not lose its thickening power in the freezer. There is a Clear Jel and an Instant Clear Jel, and it is the Instant that withstands freezing. It isn’t found in stores, but it can be purchased from online retailers including King Arthur Flours and Nuts.com (from whom I just ordered mine). I have not tried it yet. King Arthur Flours has an article on their site about pie thickeners, comparing them all. Apparently Clear Jel adds no flavor and makes a lovely, clear sauce, and the Instant version thickens without heating and is not affected by freezing. I hope this is helpful.

Dodie October 25, 2015 at 8:42 am

Hello and thanks for sharing such a delicious recipe! I used it last year and it’s Apple season again. Getting ready right now to put up six more quarts today!! Makes awesome Dutch apple pies!

Daisy October 25, 2015 at 2:32 pm

Dodie–Thanks for reminding me about it. I think I need to make some more myself!

Ken September 22, 2016 at 6:59 pm

Made this for the first time this year and my famly loves it.will make agin next canning sesión

Jennifer October 2, 2016 at 6:20 pm

I was wondering if you have a smaller recipe.. I am looking at canning the rest of my apples from my apple tree. I’ve made apple sauce and didn’t think about canning them for pie! If you have a smaller recipe I would appreciate it.

Daisy October 2, 2016 at 6:42 pm

Jennifer–I haven’t developed a smaller recipe specifically, but it this may safely be halved or quartered.

Deborah October 4, 2016 at 5:11 am

Hi I was wondering if I can make this without the clear gel and cook it on the stove after with cornstarch. I am having a hard time finding clear gel in Ontario where I am.

Daisy October 4, 2016 at 7:23 am

Deborah–That would probably work, experiment with a small batch and see if it is the consistency you like.

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