Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Apple Pie Filling for Canning + Tips for Using Clear Jel

Learn how to can apple pie filling with Clear Jel.  This is a family favorite recipe, and we use it to make apple pie, apple crisp, and other apple desserts.  Clear Jel can be tricky to work with, but I have some tips to help you with this apple pie filling canning recipe.

How to Can Apple Pie Filling

Homemade canned apple pie filling is a pantry staple in this house.  Each year when the apples are in season, I make applesauce, canned apples, and this canning apple pie filling recipe.

I make 21 quarts of this apple pie filling canning recipe each year.  That seems like a lot, but I give it to friends and family.  We always run out in the summer, so I could make more each year.

While I wouldn't call this an advanced recipe, canning apple pie filling with Clear Jel isn't for a beginner canner.  I suggest getting some practice with other canning recipes before trying this one.

I also have some tips for using Clear Jel and what it is and how to use it.

For more apple recipes, check out these posts:

Keep track of this apple pie filling for canning and all of your recipes with a printable canning journal.

How Do You Preserve Apple Pie Filling?

I learned how to can apple pie filling with Clear Jel so it's shelf stable.  You can can this recipe in a water bath canner or freeze it.

Clear Jel is safe for canning or for freezing.  You can make this apple pie filling for canning and for freezing.  Just freeze in 4 cup portions for a full pie or by the cup for smaller desserts.

I also use Clear Jel in my strawberry pie filling canning recipe.

I recommend using freezer containers for freezing so the homemade apple pie filling doesn't get freezer burnt.

Do You Have to Blanch Apples Before Canning?

Yes, you need to blanch apples before canning homemade apple pie filling.  Blanching is important for preserving the flavor, color, and texture of apples.

Apples hold a lot of air.  Blanching helps release that trapped air, which is important for canning.

When you're canning, it's very important to have the correct head space.  Trapped air in the food will escape during processing, which gives you more head space.

This can result in an improper seal.  When you're canning apple pie filling, the filling can then rise up and out of the jar, preventing the jar from sealing properly.  

Read about reasons for canning jars not sealing.

Best Apples for Canning Apple Pie Filling Recipe

Some apples are better than others for canning homemade apple pie filling.  Here are some apple varieties to try for best results:

  • Granny Smith apples are commonly used for pies.  They are firm and don't get mushy when cooked.  They are tart, so I usually mix them with other apples for a pie.
  • Honeycrisp apples are sweet and stay fairly firm.  
  • Golden Delicious are both sweet and tart, so you don't need to mix them with other apples.
  • Jonathan apples are tart and tangy, so they are best mixed with a sweeter apple.

What is Clear Jel?

You'll need to use Clear Jel to learn how to can apple pie filling.  Clear Jel is a modified corn starch product.  It's been modified to withstand the high heat of canning.

Cornstarch and other thickeners can break down during processing, which can make your pie filling runny.  

If you live in a rural area, then you can likely find Clear Jel at your grocery store or bulk food store.  I get it from the Amish bulk food stores in Ohio.

You can also find Clear Jel on Amazon .

What is a Substitute for Clear Jel in Canning?

Unfortunately, there is no substitute for Clear Jel.  Cornstarch, flour, tapioca flour, and other thickeners are not safe for canning.

They can not withstand the high heat and will clump.  Not only will this interfere with heat penetration for safe canning, but you'll also be left with lumpy pie filling.

Is Clear Jel the Same as Pectin?

Clear Jel and Sure Jell have similar names, but that's their only similarity.  Sure Gel is a form of pectin used in jams and jellies.

Clear Jel is a modified corn starch used to thicken foods.  

Sure Jell or pectin will not thicken this homemade canned apple pie filling correctly.

Tips for Using Clear Jel

Making pie fillings is a bit harder than other canning recipes.  Here are some tips to help you learn how to can apple pie filling:

  • Always blanch the apples before canning apple pie filling with Clear Jel.  Apples hold a lot of air, so they will release that trapped air during canning.  This can cause the pie filling to bubble up out of the jar (siphoning).
  • Use a bubble popper to remove trapped air before placing your lid and ring on the jar and processing.
  • After the pie filling is done processing, turn off the heat and open the lid to your canner.  Let the jars sit for 5 to 10 minutes.  This helps them cool before you remove them and set them on the counter.  This can reduce a lot of siphoning and product loss.
  • Expect to have some siphoning.  Usually, the jars will still seal and be safe for storage.  However, you should always store canned pie filling with the rings off so if the jar didn't fully seal, the lid will come off and you won't eat bad food.
  • Always leave 1 inch of headspace to give the filling room to expand during cooking.
  • Use Clear Jel and not Instant Clear Jel
  • Do not use Sure Jell or pectin in place of the Clear Jel.

How Long Does Homemade Canned Pie Filling Last?

Your apple pie filling canning recipe will last about 18 months on the shelf.  Once opened, it will last about two weeks in the refrigerator.

Apple pie filling is a great addition to your emergency food supply for a sweet treat.

How to Use Homemade Canned Apple Pie Filling

Here's how to use your apple pie filling canning recipe:

Apple Pie Filling for Canning Ingredients

This is a list of what you'll need to learn how to can apple pie filling.  The amounts are in the recipe card below.

Apples - Use firm apples for best results.  You can mix sweet and tart apples or use Golden Delicious.

Sugar - You can safely reduce the sugar or substitute all or part of the sugar with Splenda or stevia to make a low sugar or no sugar homemade canned apple pie filling.

Clear Jel - Clear Jel can not be substituted for cornstarch or any other thickener.  

Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Ground Cloves, Ground Ginger, Allspice - Buy in bulk from Etsy for best flavor.

Apple Juice or Water - I use canned apple juice.  If you buy apple juice, you can dilute it half and half since it's so sweet.

Lemon Juice - Use fresh squeezed lemon juice or bottled lemon juice.

You will also need the following canning supplies:

See my canning supplies for beginners to see what you need to get started canning.

How to Can Apple Pie Filling With Clear Jel

Step #1

Wash the apples.  Then peel, core, and slice as thin or as thick as you want.  

Step #2

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add apples to the boiling water and cook for 1 minute.  Drain apples and keep in a covered bowl.

Step #3

Combine the sugar, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, and ginger with the juice and water in a large pan.  Heat over medium heat.

Step #4

Mix the Clear Jel and lemon juice in a small bowl.  Add to the juice and spices.  Heat over medium heat while stirring.  Heat until thickened and remove from heat.

Step #5

Fill jars by alternative apples and filling.  Use the bubble popper to remove air bubbles.  Leave a 1 inch headspace.  

Step #6

Wipe the rims and place a lid and ring on each jar.  Process in a water bath for 25 minutes for pints or quarts.  When the time is up, turn off heat and remove the lid.  Let the jars sit for 5 to 10 minutes to reduce siphoning.

Then set the jars on a towel or other heat proof surface and let cool for 24 hours.

Now you know how to can apple pie filling with Clear Jel! 

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