We enjoy having canned pie filling on hand, so I decided to make some apple this year. I picked up a peck of gala apples which hold their shape nicely when baked. With some of those apples, I made four quarts of pie filling just to test the recipe. We loved it and will definitely be making more as soon as we can get our hands on more baking apples.
The filling is thick, gooey, and spicy and uses Clear Jel to set. The filling is a little frustrating to get into the jars. I ladled it in and then used a spoon to gently fill in the holes as I went. Try to remove as many air bubbles as possible, but inevitably some will probably remain. Don't worry about a few.
If you have never purchased Clear Jel, you must purchase it online. Supermarkets do not carry it. I get mine from Kitchen Krafts, but you can also purchase it from Amazon and other sources. The great thing about it once you purchase a bag is that it can be used when making pies from scratch as well as in other places where thickeners are needed like sauces, gravies, etc. It is worth the purchase. Also, this is one of those times where your jar really matters. I found that the wide mouth jars were much easier to pack than the regular mouth. If regular is all you have that is fine though. It will all work the same in the end.
The recipe below makes 7 quarts. If you wish to make less, the calculations per jar can be found at NCHFP. This recipe comes from that site. I did use the recommendations from another blog (Hickery Holler Farm) to use some white sugar and some brown, and I also used apple cider rather than apple juice because that was what I had on hand. I am adding those modifications into the recipe below. Even though it is safe alter the type of sugar or change the quantities or types of spices, do not alter the Clear Jel or lemon juice.
Canned Apple Pie Filling- makes 7 quarts
6 quarts good quality baking apples, peeled and sliced 1/2 inch wide
4 cups white sugar
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cups Clear Jel
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 1/2 cups water
5 cups apple cider (or juice)
3/4 cup bottled lemon juice
Prepare your canner. Sterilize and warm jars, lids, and rings. As you peel and slice apples, keep them submerged in cool water with added lemon juice or ascorbic acid to prevent browning.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Boil the apple slices for 1 minute in batches. Drain fruit and set aside.
In a large pot, combine white sugar, brown sugar, Clear Jel, spices, water, and apple cider. Stir and cook on medium high heat until the mixture thickens and begins to bubble. Add lemon juice and boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Fold in the drained apple slices, and immediately fill jars with mixture leaving 1 inch headspace. It is easiest to fill jars a little at a time so that you can use a utensil to gently push the filling into the jars to remove air bubbles as you go. Once jars are filled, use a bubble remover to remove any remaining air bubbles and to fill any pockets created in the jars.
Wipe the rims of the jars. Top each with a lid and ring. Process jars in a boiling water bath for 25 minutes (for pints or quarts). Remember to adjust accordingly if you live above 1,000 feet. Remove jars from the canner and allow to cool completely before checking seals, labeling, and storing.