Apple Pie Filling – A Family Tradition


Apple Pie Filling
Pausing my apple picking, atop a ladder, to enjoy a fresh-from-the-tree apple; and the original copy of my apple pie filling recipe.


When I was cleaning out my recipe cupboard (yes, I have a shelf in one of my cupboards for all of the recipe books I rarely use), I found my apple pie filling recipe, which I got from my sister-in-law, Sally years ago when we were both new brides. The picture shows the front and back of the approximate 2″ x 3″ scrap of paper it’s written on. For years  I had it memorized because I made applesauce and apple pie filling every year from the apples produced on our five apple trees. Then life happened and I didn’t make it for several years, and more life happened, and I didn’t make it, and then I forgot the recipe. Life calmed down, and for the last several years I have made pie filling again. I ended up searching online for a recipe, and I found one that was good.  But I am pretty sure this one (with a few modifications I’ve made since I first used it) is better.

We used to go through a ton of applesauce, and I canned it by the quart and added sugar and cinnamon. Canning applesauce and pie filling was one of the projects that Kelly always helped me with. We worked well together as a team when it came to canning. He was of course always much more of a perfectionist than I am, and his apple slices were always more uniform, and the peel was completely taken off. I miss standing side-by-side  in the kitchen working together, the kids begging him to let them crank the handle of the Victoria strainer.

These days I fill pint bottles rather than quarts with applesauce, and I give away both applesauce and apple pie filling as gifts at Christmastime.  The apples come from my five apple trees (organically grown because I never take the time to do anything with them. My boys prune the trees every year or so, but that’s about it). My favorite part of the whole process is the wonderful smell that fills my house with cinnamony goodness, and of course the ping when the jars seal. Homemade is so much better than what you can get in the store. Enjoy!

Update 2016

PS: One of these days I will add my applesauce recipe, but for today, I will add some pictures of this year’s endeavor. Jason and his boys have been helping me tonight. (And they get to take the applesauce home with them!)





Apple Pie Filling

8 quarts of apples

8 cups water (or a mix of apple juice and water)

2 cups Ultra Gel or Clear Jel

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon of ground nutmeg

1/2 c. lemon juice plus 1/4/ c. lemon juice for apple preparation

4 1/2 c. sugar

4 drops of yellow food coloring for color if desired

Use firm, crisp apples (my favorite is the granny Smith variety). If apples lack tartness, use an additional 1/4 cup of lemon juice for each 6 quarts of slices.

Yield: 7 quarts

Wash, peel, and core apples.  Prepare slices 1/4-1/2 inches wide and place in cold water containing 1/4 cup lemon juice for every 4 cups water (or water containing ascorbic acid) to prevent browning.

For fresh fruit, place 6 cups at a time in 1 gallon of boiling water.  Boil each batch 1 minute after the water returns to a boil.  Drain, but keep heated fruit in a covered bowl or pot.

Prepare your quart jars, make sure they are clean and that you have the lids and rings ready to go because once your filling is ready, you will want to fill the jars quickly. Heat some water and place your lids in the hot water until you are ready to use them.

Combine sugar, spices, and Ultra Gel, in a large kettle or stock pot with water and apple juice. Stir and cook on medium-high heat until mixture thickens and begins to bubble.  Add lemon juice and food coloring, and boil 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Fold in drained apple slices immediately. Fill quart jars quickly, leaving 1 inch headspace.  Adjust lids and process in a water-bath canner according to the recommendations below.

Processing time varies depending on the size of your jars and your elevation. This handy home canning processing chart is a great guide, and if you don’t know what your elevation is off the top of your head, you can find it at What is my elevation .com 

Freezer Instructions: Alternately this recipe can be placed in freezer bags and frozen for several months.  Place approximately 4 cups apple mixture to fill one standard size pie.

If you’ve never done home canning before, this is a good basic guide.

Use the filling the same way you would commercially prepared pie filling. And check out my recipe for a super easy crockpot fruit cobbler.






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