Pie filling: some of the easiest preserving you’ll do, and my go-to when I have a lot of fruit that I need to put up in a hurry. Pie fillings are great because you don’t have to achieve a gel, so there are no limits on how much (or little) sugar you can add, how long you cook it for, whether you want to toss in some booze or juice or a bit of fancy flavored vinegar. You can simply taste & adjust until it looks and tastes good to you; then pop it in jars and away you go.
Another nice thing about canning pie fillings? You can always adjust it before you bake the pie: don’t have ClearJel on hand? Make a note on the label that you didn’t add any thickener, and simply add a slurry of cornstarch to the filling before you bake. Tastes a little too sweet or tart coming out of the jar? Add a splash of lemon juice or a couple of spoonfuls of sugar.
But the best thing about canned pie filing? With pastry dough in the freezer, you’re never more than a few minutes away from fresh pie, bubbling in the oven. The plums are gorgeous this year in New York: grab some and pop ‘em into jars. You’ll be happy you did.
- 7 lbs plums, rinsed, stemmed, pitted and chopped
- zest & juice of 1 lemon
- 1 lb (2 cups) sugar (organic evaporated cane juice)
- ½ tsp ground cardamom
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- 6 tbsp ClearJel
- In a large bowl, combine plums, lemon zest & juice, sugar, cardamom and salt. As you chop plums, toss in sugar to prevent browning. Allow to macerate at room temperature for at least 1 hour or refrigerated overnight.
- Prepare canner, jars and lids.
- Strain juice from plums into a large, heavy-bottomed preserving pot. Return fruit to bowl, then sprinkle with ClearJel: toss to mix until ClearJel disappears. Bring juice to a full boil over high heat: boil for 2 -3 minutes to allow foam to rise, then skim foam and add plums. Return to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat, then simmer for 10 minutes to soften fruit. Maintain a simmer while you fill your jars.
- Fill hot jars with hot pie filling, leaving a generous 1-inch headspace. Bubble jars well, tapping jars on the counter to settle pie filling, then wipe rims, affix lids and process in a boiling water bath for 30 minutes (for either 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 3 ½ quarts.
- I used a mix of plums here: tart yelllow, tiny sweet red plums and huge, almost black, super ripe plums (I don’t know the name or variety of any of them). I love that the flesh and peels were different colors, and the variety of sweet & tart flavors will make for a much more interesting pie, in my opinion. That said, if you have a plum tree, have at it with the one variety.
- You don’t have to use cardamom, of course: I just really like it with plums. I tried infusing with cracked green cardamom pods in a tea ball, but I didn’t get much flavor after a 4-hour maceration time. Nutmeg also works nicely with plums, and would make a good substitute.
- ClearJel is not absolutely necessary, but is one of the few thickening agents that can be re-heated: cornstarch only works once, and if you use it in canning, you run the risk of it clumping when you bake your pie. If you don’t want to source ClearJel, you can simply can the plums without any thickening agent, then add cornstarch or other thickener prior to baking the pie.
Canned, store in a cool, dark spot for up to 1 year.
Summer into early Fall.