Updated 08 October 2011. The original recipe was a modified version of the Ball Book apple pie filling; this version reflects more closely how I make a fresh apple pie, with some added apple cider and ClearJel canning starch to provide the necessary liquid for canning. There are 2 pounds of apples packed into each quart of pie filling in this version, making this a very apply, not overly sweet, and not overly goopy filling. If you like a sweeter apple pie, feel free to increase the sugar: the Ball recipe contains about 3 cups of sugar for this amount of apples.
Just in time for the weekend, an apple project! The weather is supposed to be nice in my neck of the woods and some apple orchards still have apples in the trees. It’s supposed to drop down to 29 degrees tonight, however (brrr!), so this may be your very last chance for apple picking this season. If you’re game, check out Pick Your Own and search for a farm or orchard near you.
And when you get home with all of your apples, what could be nicer than having homemade apple pie filling at the ready over the holidays? This recipe is a bit of a project, what with the peeling and coring and slicing and canning, but at the end of the day you’ve got 3 proto-pies, or hostess gifts, or last minute Thanksgiving lifesavers, or Christmas gifts, or door prizes for your own holiday party… the options are endless! Just open a quart jar, pop it into a pie shell, bake for an hour, and hey Presto! Apple pie.
- 6 lbs apples (Mutsu and Honeycrisp are favorites; you can find organically grown apples locally at Fishkill Farms and Westwind Orchard)
- 2 cups apple cider, preferably freshly pressed, or unsweetened apple juice
- 1/2 cup raw sugar (organic turbinado)
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar (organic dark Muscovado)
- juice of 2 lemons (about 1/2 cup) + zest of 1 lemon
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup filtered water
- 1/4 cup ClearJel (modified cooking starch that can be processed and then re-heated for pie baking)
- Combine cider, sugars, lemon juice & zest, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a very large bowl.
- Peel, core and slice apples. As you slice, toss apple slices in the cider/sugar/lemon mixture (in order to prevent browning). Try to keep the apple slices thin and as even; I shoot for 12 to 16 slices per apple half, for a medium to large apple. Allow apple slices to macerate, at room temperature, for at least 1 hour and up to 3 hours, tossing to coat in juice every now and then.
- Prepare canner, jars & lids.
- Strain juice from apple slices into a large measuring cup: you should yield at least 3 and 1/2 cups (if not, make up the difference with cider). Transfer juice to a wide, heavy-bottomed preserving pot or Dutch oven and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Allow to boil, without stirring, for 5 minutes or so, just enough to reduce the volume slightly.
- In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup water and the ClearJel; mix well with a fork until smooth. Scrape into the boiling juice, whisking until fully incorporated and smooth. Boil until juice is nicely thickened, about 1 – 2 minutes. Add apple slices (along with any remaining juice), stir well to coat, reduce heat, cover the pan, and simmer for 5 minutes, until apples are heated through.
- Ladle hot pie filling into hot jars, leaving 1 and 1/4 inch headspace. Carefully remove air bubbles and push apple slices below the syrup; adjust headspace, wipe rim, affix lid, and process in a boiling water bath for 25 minutes (for pint or quart jars). At the end of the processing time, allow jars to rest in the canner, with the heat & lid off, for at least 10 minutes, in order to prevent siphoning. Remove and rest jars, undisturbed, until cooled.
Yields about 3 quarts.
- The Ball recipe specifies a headspace of 1 inch; I’ve made this recipe several times now and very often have issues with siphoning. My jars have eventually sealed (a jar in this situation is still viable and safe as long as a good seal forms), but I’ve found that a headspace of 1 and 1/4 inch lessens this problem. In addition, ensure that the apples are thoroughly heated through before processing, to prevent expansion when they are heated in the boiling water bath.
- For a boozy twist, replace 1/2 cup of apple cider with bourbon, whiskey or brandy.
- When you are ready to use your filling for a pie, prepare one recipe of Rose’s Deluxe Flaky Pie Crust (double recipe for a top-crust pie), shape into a 8- or 9-inch pie pan, and fill with one quart of filling. If using a top crust, seal the seams around the edge of your pie and make slashes or decorative cut-outs in the top crust in order to allow steam to escape. Bake in a pre-heated 375 degree F oven for approximately 1 hour, or until filling is bubbling and crust is browned. Allow to cool at least 30 minutes prior to serving. One quart makes one shallow 8- to 9-inch pie, but I often find for today’s larger pie dishes that I need 3 pints to fill a pie shell. You can easily make pint jars of this filling, which are a bit easier to handle; 1 pint jar will make an 8-inch tart, 2 pint jars a standard 8- or 9-inch pie, and 3 pint jars a larger or deep-dish pie.
- I’ve tried this recipe with honey, but it turned out rather cloyingly sweet and with a watery texture.
- Save the apple ‘leavings’ (cores and peels) to make Apple Cider Vinegar (needs organically-grown apples) or Apple Pectin Stock. You can freeze the leavings until you have enough for either recipe.
In a cool, dark spot for up to 1 year.
Fall through winter.