Have I ever told you how much I love fall time?  I love fall. And about this time every year I start getting antsy for it.  So it was a super great move for me to make this recipe because it was better than any candle, Scentsy bar, or scented oil I own.  The smell of fresh cut apples simmering in cinnamon and nutmeg?  Heaven.  I just ignored the fact that it was 96° outside.  You can make this recipe to can in jars (read our Introduction to Canning and Preserving by clicking here) or pop batches in your freezer.  It’s fun to have on hand for quick desserts like apple pie, apple crisp, apple turnovers, and it’s great on waffles, pancakes and ice cream too.  It also makes a super cute gift for the holidays or for a hostess gift or new neighbor gift, etc.

You’re going to ask me for those labels, aren’t you?  I’ll get on that.  One day.  Before Christmas.  Maybe.

*A note about thickeners:  I spent a better part of a Wednesday pulling my hair out and cursing driving around town in search of, and making phone call after phone call trying to get information about thickeners!  A huge thanks to my friend/canning mentor Britanie for helping me figure out what the heck to use; I must have texted her 47 times this week.  Thanks to her, and my new BFF at the extension office, I can sort of pretend I know what I’m talking about around here.   It can be confusing because I noticed recipes call for different things depending on when they were written, and I know the #1 rule of canning is to not make substitutions or changes to a recipe that has been tested for canning.  I noticed a lot of older recipes call for corn starch, which is not recommended by the USDA for safe canning.  Then I found lots of recipes calling for ClearJel, but I couldn’t find ClearJel anywhere.  I finally got a hold of someone at my local extension service (I seriously love those people!) and she explained that the only products that have been verified after testing are Ultra Gel and Thick Gel.  Ultra Gel is just a modified corn starch that’s safe and effective for use in canning (as well as tons of other things).  She said ClearJel is the same thing as Ultra Gel, it’s just changed names.  I found Ultra Gel in several local canning supply stores, so if you find a well stocked location you should be able to easily find it.  You should also be able to find it at cooking stores.  If not, then you can order it on-line, but that’s what you should be using.  It’s not the same thing as the little boxes of “Sure-Gel” you get to make jam.  If you are a Boise/Meridian local, I bought mine at Karcher Ranch Market in Nampa.  And I’ve been told in Utah it’s at Orson Gygi.  I hope that’s helpful to someone else since it took me a while to figure out!

So in order to make this yummy filling, you’ll need a bunch of apples; obviously.  Make sure they are crisp, and tart works best- like Granny Smiths, but really any crisp apple is just fine.  Feel free to use a mix!

You can use an apple-corer-slicer-thingy (which by the way always reminds me of a medieval torture device.  Not that I am in any way an expert in medieval torture devices)  or do them by hand.  If you’re not doing a huge batch, it really doesn’t take too long to peel them.  To keep your apples looking purdy, toss them into a bowl as you cut filled with either water with lemon juice or water with ascorbic acid (which sounds like a not-so-medieval torture device…)  Just a note- you’ll want to slice more apples than you think you need because they reduce a bit when blanched and you’ll measure them after blanching.

When they’re all sliced up, you’ll give them a douse in boiling water; only about a minute will do it.

Remove the apples from the pot and set them in a big strainer if you have one and just cover to keep warm.  I use one of these pasta pots that has a strainer that fits inside; it works perfectly.

Now for the sweet, sticky, full-of-fall deliciousness.  Mix your sugar, Ultra Gel, and spices, in a large sauce pot.

Whisk them together with some apple juice and some water,

And heat it until it’s thick and bubbly.  The Ultra Gel works so fast that by the time the sauce simmers, it should be about done.

As soon as your sauce is hot and bubbly, add the apples back in

and stir them until they’re heated through again.  Man I wish you all had smell-o-screens.  Someone needs to invent that.  This will smell so so good.

Use a funnel to ladle the hot mixture into your clean jars

Make sure you get every last drop of the ooey gooey syrup

Pie.  In a Jar.

Slowly move your spatula around in the jar to remove air bubbles and make sure you have one inch of headspace (the amount of space from the top of your filling to the top of your jar).  Wipe off the jar rim so it’s nice and clean and then place your jar lids on top.  Remember, your lids should have been soaking in simmering water, and your jars should be clean and warm.

Secure with the bands and process in a water bath for the time allotted.  Let cool completely at room temperature.

So fun.

A quart jar should be enough to fill one standard pie.  Just dump in a pie crust and you’re good to go!  As I mentioned it’s also really yummy over pancakes, waffles and ice cream. You can fill crescent or puff pastry dough and make apple turnovers, or do as I did below and have an apple crisp made in the time it takes to whip up a quick crumb topping (I just used have of the crumb mixture from this Crumb-Topped Apple Pie recipe).  There’s really no wrong way to eat a jar of apple pie filling.  Unless you don’t eat it at all; that would be wrong.  As noted in the comments- you can even put the pie filling in a pie crust and put the entire un-baked pie into your freezer and have ready-to-go fresh pies stocked up!

I love it when recipes are scaled way down- you could even try this out and just do one jar if you’re new and canning is intimidating.  Or two jars if you find yourself ready to can a huge batch at 10pm only to realize you only have 2 jars left.  Me? Never.

Handy chart from the National Center for Food Preservation

Have you all enjoyed canning week?  I know I did; I learned a lot!  I can’t thank my friends enough for answering all of my questions as I went along- I’m kind of a canning newbie too!  Stay tuned in about a month or so when I have tomatoes coming out of my ears.  There will probably be more canning projects then!

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191comments

  1. 1

    I have never canned before… but I just might start, so I can make this!

  2. 2
    B. Keefer says:

    Approximately how many apples (count or pounds) equals 6 quarts? I can smell it already. Tomorrow I start the hunt for Ultra Gel or Clear Jel.

    • 2.1

      It depends on the size of your apples, but usually one apple yields about one cup fresh, but these will decrease in volume a little when blanched. So I’d say for every quart jar you’ll probably want 4-6 apples.

  3. 3
    Rachel says:

    I really want to start canning and was wondering if you would do a salsa canning post! i can’t stand that jarred stuff in the store and would love to have some good salsa on hand all the time!

  4. 4
    ButterYum says:

    This is a fantastic post!

    :)
    ButterYum

  5. 5

    I never would have thought to freeze pie filling, what a great idea to get ready for fall!

  6. 6

    Yes, I’m asking for that adorable label!! :)

  7. 7

    Okay, so I got the mini-canning kit yesterday so I could give canning my first try over the weekend. Now I can’t figure out which one to do first, the peach BBQ or the apples?!?! :-) Again, thanks so much for these posts; I’m really looking forward to giving this a go.

    You gals rock.

  8. 8
    Melie says:

    You have inspired me to try canning! I have only one concern and its regarding the sugar. I’ve cut out processed sugars for health reasons and you are understandably adament on not changing recipes for canning. That being said, I can’t eat what I’ve canned if I don’t change it. Bummer! So, is there an impact if I use honey, agave or stevia instead of granulated sugar? Thanks so much for the inspiration!

    • 8.1

      Melie, definitely call your local extension office; they’re seriously amazing and they have answers for *everything*. They’ll be able to answer that question for sure. You can look up your local office number here:

      http://www.csrees.usda.gov/Extension/

    • 8.2
      Jayne says:

      I have used Splenda and it works great.

    • 8.3
      Jana Brown says:

      If you’re using standard pectin it relies on the fruit to pectin to sugar to acid ratio, so canning without sugar makes for a runny product. If you’re using Clear Gel, Ultra Gel or Thick Gel then you can reduce your sugar or change it over to products like stevia, Splenda or agave without losing the quality of your product or risking getting sick. Make sure you still put your acid in there so you don’t encourage nasty molds or other bugs! :)

  9. 9
    Renae says:

    We love home canned pie filling!

    If anyone is having problems finding Clearjel or Ultra jel in your area, then check with candy/cake decorating supply companies. That is where I get mine here in MN as you cannont find it in the grocery stores.

    You can also put the pies together, with the crust, and freeze them like that so it is ready to bake when you want it. Although dumping the pie contents into a crust isn’t so tough either.

  10. 10
    Patti says:

    Hurray for Ultra Gel already in my pantry (love Maceys!). What kind of device (medieval or otherwise) do you use to measure the apples? I have one that can measure up to 8 cups so maybe fill that about three times?
    Your label is so purdy! hint, hint, hint.

  11. 11
    elaine says:

    I made the peach bbq sauce yesterday and this one looks good too. Where did you buy the ultra gel? I am here in Meridian and I could not find it at Walmart or Winco. Thanks,

    • 11.1

      Elaine, I bought mine at Karcher Ranch Market. It’s in Nampa off Karcher road just right past the movie theater/Outback steakhouse, etc. They have tons of different sizes and that large bag in my picture was like $7-8 bucks. Here’s a map if you’re not sure where it is: http://bit.ly/ohrUfF

      • elaine says:

        Thanks! I just happen to be going to the newly remodeled Nampa Winco (it is awesome) and the market is just across the road. I will run in and get some.

  12. 12
    Mindy says:

    Canning it sounds great, but I’m pretty new to canning. I think I’ll try the freezer version first. The apples don’t get mushy after freezing them?

  13. 13
    Kim Maddock says:

    I know everyone is wanting the printable but Beth Proudfoot has a darling “Hello Fall” printable that would be darling on the outside of the bottle as well. bethproudfoot.blogspot.com

  14. 14
    Christina says:

    How ironic! Just last night I was searching the web for a delicious apple pie filling! Not even kidding!! I’m now on the hunt for apples:) What I had in mind was making topping for some homemade funnel cakes. Hot cinnamon-apple topping with a scoop of icecream! Now we’re talkin’!

  15. 15
    Trina says:

    you could also heat and put over porkchops! I’m on the look out for Jell now!

  16. 16
    Jayne says:

    In smaller communities you can get clear jel at the county extention agency. Also, I substitute Splenda for the sugar and it works great. Last fall I made 75 lbs of apple pie filling and by Christmas it was all gone. This year I’m going to try peach, too.

  17. 17

    WOOHOO! Ultra Gel is my favorite product, and not just because my best friend’s family makes it. I can’t cook without it anymore. I sprinkle it in anything I think might be a little too watery- sauces, gravies, soups, etc. I also put it in baked goods and it keeps things from crumbling AND keeps them moist. I am SO GLAD to see Ultra Gel here!

  18. 18
    Heidie L says:

    I would love your label too. {I know…we are all takers here} Any chance you could link it so I can print it? Thanks!

    • 18.1

      It’s not even formatted for printing, in fact I don’t think I even saved it! I just whipped it up real quick on my computer. But I will definitely work something up to add to the post!

      • Cindy Bennett says:

        Thank you so much for the recipe! My friend and I just made 20 quarts, and would LOVE your label, or something equally cute that we can use for Christmas gifts. Pleeeeeaaaasse??? Thanks again!

  19. 19

    Yumm, I hope I can get my hands on some apples this year, but I am looking for canning ideas for pears. I’ve got 20 lbs of pears coming in a couple of weeks.

  20. 20
    Delene says:

    I will more then likely go with the freezer version, I live overseas and trying to find all the “tools” needed would be difficult. My question is “At what point would I put the filling into the freezer bag?” I would hate for it to be so hot it burns the bag.

  21. 21
    Toni says:

    For our Utah friends, you can buy Ultra Gel at Orsn Gygi’s. I have also seen it in the Alison’s Pantry catalog

    • 21.1

      Actually, check your Associated Food Stores- Maceys, Dan’s, etc. They should have some in the canning section. The Bosch kitchen stores carry them too.

      • meredith says:

        Thanks for the shopping tip for Utah … although now I’m sure there will be a run on it after this post :-) Thanks Sara for the step-by-step, hoping to have enough apples off the apple trees we planted last year to use this in the fall … I’ve never tried canning, but it’s been on my list of things to do one day.

        Can this be used for other fruits or would you just stick with the apples?
        Thank You Thank You!!

    • 21.2
      Rebecca says:

      I get mine at Kitchen Kneads in Ogden or Logan every year

    • 21.3
      Jen says:

      Just called and they only sell instant ClearJel. Is there a difference between instant and regular?

  22. 22
    Aubrey says:

    I’m really excited to try this out. I was at a relief society activity last night on canning and a friend told me about your blog and that I could get some help here. I think I’m in LOVE! Thanks so much for your work!

  23. 23
    Samara says:

    If I just want to make this as an eat-now apple dessert (plain or with ice cream), does that change the recipe? Do I still need the thickener, or can it be tasty and a good consistency without, if I’m eating it right then? I’ve never seen apples boiled – I’m used to stirring them over low heat FOREVER, so this seems like a neat method if it can be done without the gel? Thanks!

    • 23.1
      Jana Brown says:

      You can blanch your apples like she did here, or if you really want to cheat and make it fast toss the slices in a microwave safe bowl with about 1/4 cup of apple juice. Cover with plastic wrap and nuke for 3-5 minutes on high. Toss them around and if they’re not soft enough another few minutes. Totally cheater way to soften apples really fast. You’ll still need the thickener, or some thickener, if you want it as an eat now dessert unless you increase the number of apples greatly and decrease the liquid. It’ll taste the same with or without thickener, but because you’re not boiling the apples in the apple juice to pull the natural apple pectin there’s nothing there to cause the juices to thicken and set.

      Good luck. :)

  24. 24
    Kathy B says:

    Thanks for this post out local Pick your Own Orchard opens in 2 weeks! I’ve been using Clear Jel for years, glad to know that the name changed to Ultra Gel. I’m having trouble finding it at my local Co-ops, they’ve changed to a product called Thermflo. Can anyone tell me what the difference is and can I use it the same as Clear/Ultra Gel?

    • 24.1
      Jana Brown says:

      Thermflo is a newer generation of the non instant Clear Jel. You can use it in place of Clear Gel or Ultra Gel if you are cooking the product. It will not work in instant applications though, and your amounts may have to be adjusted slightly so the product isn’t overly thick. It will tend to thicken more than Clear Jel or Ultra Gel for the same measurement. It’s a cool product though. :)

  25. 25
    Michelle Bingham says:

    I’ve loved your canning week!!! I’m also a newbie to canning and these recipes have certainly inspired me to try them!

  26. 26
    Michelle Bingham says:

    Oh and I also want the label whenever you actually have time to post it. :)

  27. 27
    Jana Brown says:

    In Utah you can find Ultra Gel and often Thick Gel at Bosch Kitchen stores, Maceys, Harmon’s, most Lin’s, Dan’s and Dicks, Dixie Nutrition some Whole Foods and soon in A Fresh Markets. There are a lot of Bosch stores in Idaho, Oregon and Washington which also carry the products. :) In Idaho Ultra Gel is usually sold in a big blue pouch and in Utah often in a white 1 pound container, though those will switch over to pouches soon as well. Thick Gel will either be in yellow pouches or the white containers and usually come in 2 pound increments.

    • 27.1
      Katie Jo says:

      Thanks… I was wondering… I will check out some of those places I have around me!

  28. 28
    Mary Jane Helms says:

    Cash & Carry in Boise (just off the connector at River St.) has the Clear Gel.

  29. 29
    Lori Holt says:

    I was wondering if there is any Canadians out there? Wondering where in Canada we can get the thickner? This recipe sounds wonderul and I have a tree full of apples to use!

  30. 30
    Becky says:

    I swear you read my mind; I’ve been really curious to learn how to can or freeze pie apples this year. As much as my mother tried, I have never learned how to can. Time to try it out.
    I have a question though, what is the difference between Clear Jel and Instant Clear Jel? Does it matter which one for canning pie filling? Or does one work better for different temperatures? Thanks

    • 30.1
      Jana Brown says:

      Clear Jel is a product like traditional corn starch which requires being brought up to a boil in order to thicken fully. Instant Clear Jel will thicken instantly whether the product is hot or cold, though it works slightly better in cooler products. You can use either, but for a cooked and canned filling normal Clear Jel, Ultra Gel or Thick Gel work better as they are more stable against the heat of canning and the sitting time on a shelf and disperse better through out the product. If you are going to freeze the results, then using Instant Clear Jel isn’t a problem. :) This type of process works really well to make cherry pie filling and peach pie filling as well.

  31. 31
    Katie Jo says:

    Oh great-I am looking forward to doing more apple pie filling this year and will try this recipe, it is different than mine! Now I will hunt done some Ultra/Clear Gel. Wondering where to get it in Pocatello, Idaho?!

  32. 32
    Angelica Dulas says:

    Hi you wonderful ladies at OBB! I recently stumbled across your spectacular blog about 5 days ago and have spent all my free time since catching up on several years worth of your posts! I LOVE your taste/style/presentation and all around humorous approach to living realistically! And I don’t know how many times i’ve laughed out loud and thought to myself how much you both sound like myself. :) Thanks for your dedication, I’ll be looking for your cookbook at Barnes and Nobel soon!

  33. 33
    Pam says:

    What a great idea to have this delicious recipe available not to fill a pie, but to put on a waffle or do whatever one chooses. Never would have even thought of it. Thanks for the idea.

  34. 34
    Becky says:

    We’re not pig fans of pie at my house, but we love dump cake and use lots of pie filling! Thanks!

  35. 35
    Cindy Adamson says:

    My 3 year old was looking at the computer as I was reading this and in his sweet 3 year old voice said, “Mommy…what is that??? It looks NUMMY!!” :-)

  36. 36
    Amanda says:

    Thanks for all the great canning recipes! I laughed out loud when I looked at the labels and I said “oh those are cute, how did she make those?” and then you stated on your blog that you knew we were going to ask. :)

    I love fall also! I can’t wait to start making things with apples, pears, pumpkins, squash and others. YUM!

  37. 37
    Amy says:

    You can find Clear Jel through Alison’s Pantry. You may be able to order it online at http://www.alisonspantry.com. I have found Alison’s Pantry to be the cheapest place to buy Clear Jel. To see if there is a rep near you, just visit their website. They are a Utah based company, but deliver to Nevada, Arizona, Wyoming, Colorado and Idaho.

    Thanks for a great recipe. Love your sight.

  38. 38
    heidi says:

    we have a heirloom seed place in oregon that carries clear gel. might want to try some places like that. also do you have to blanch the apples? and do you know why they say only clear gel is okay? because i have been using flour and cornstarch for years and i havent had a problem (that i know of).

    • 38.1

      Heidi, here is the “official” explanation (by someone who, unlike me, knows what they’re talking about :)

      “Canning apple pie filling using tapioca or cornstarch as the thickener (outdated method.) Why is this risky? Botulism is not a major risk here because the high acid content of the apple filling. However, using cornstarch or tapioca may cause the filling to be too thick for the heat to penetrate and kill spoilage organisms throughout the product—a food safety issue. Cornstarch will break down during the canning process. .
      Current recommendations: Clearjel®/Ultra Gel is the only thickening agent approved by the USDA for canning. It is a modified waxy food starch producing a smooth, heavy-bodied, gel-like product. Canned products retain a smooth texture with no liquid separation or curdling. Cornstarch and tapioca break down during the canning process causing the filling to be runny. Another option is to can the pie filling without any starch and then thicken it with tapioca or cornstarch before putting it in the pie shell.” – U of M Food Safety and Research Dept.

    • 38.2
      Jana Brown says:

      The problem with not blanching the apples is that the liquid inside of them will come out during the canning process and may be more than what you’ve accounted for, or less. A quick cook, like blanching in water or steaming quick in the microwave will make your liquid to solids balance so you get a more consistent end product than if you use raw. :)

  39. 39
    Kristen says:

    We purchase this farm and have LOTS & LOTS of apple trees and now I will make Apple pie filling my hubby will be so proud!! Thanks for sharing.

  40. 40
    Laura K says:

    I just did basically the same thing with peaches for peach pie filling. I love peach pie. I has to order more clear jell because I used all mine while making it. I found a good deal at The Prepared Pantry. I bought it from them through Amazon. It is about 4 cups worth and was only like $4.00. Of course shipping was more than the product cost, but when you live in the stix and you can’t get it locally that is what you have to deal with. Thanks for canning week. I love to can and hope some will start who haven’t tried it before.

  41. 41
    Jan Chauvin says:

    I just love your tutorials. They are very informative and humorous :)
    Thanks for the great site.

  42. 42
    Katrina Riggs says:

    I am from AZ and I get my Ultra Gel from Shar’s in Mesa, AZ. Yes it is a must have pantry staple. The smaller container has lots of recipes on it from EZ freezer jam to a perfect Glace for something like strawberries to put over waffles. Can’t wait to try it with my apples!

  43. 43
    Kimberly says:

    This is great, thanks so much. I go to the orchard to get applies in the fall and am always looking for something to do with them. This will certainly be on my list.
    Have you ever tried anything similar with cherries? I have been looking forever for a good recipe to use with the sour cherries I pick each summer.

  44. 44

    What a great recipe! I am so looking forward to fall also, and I can’t wait to try this. And, such cute packaging!! I linked to you from I’m lovin’ it Friday.
    Thanks

  45. 45
    Kelly says:

    Any advice on how to make this without clear gel? I am trying to stick to whole foods and does that count? thanks!

    • 45.1

      Without the starch the sauce will be thin and runny, but it will still taste good.

    • 45.2
      Jana Brown says:

      You can make it and try just boiling it down. You’ll have to cook it for longer and you run the risk of getting more apple sauce versus apple pie filling. I’ll do some checking and see if there are other options which would fit under the whole foods list.

    • 45.3
      Jacki says:

      make it without thickener, thicken it when you go to add it to pie (heat on the stove, add a cornstarch slurry and a bit of butter.)

  46. 46
    Nicole Peck says:

    I tried this once. It didn’t work so well. It must have been because I didn’t use the clear gel stuff. I probably used cornstarch. I can’t remember!! I will definitely have to hunt down some clear gel and try again because we have 3 apple trees! If only I could figure out applesauce too!

    • 46.1
      Carol says:

      For my applesauce, I chunck up my apples – removing the stems (& sometimes the seeds). Place the apple pieces in a quick dip in water with lemon juice to prevent them getting brown. After that – scoop them out & drain for a minute or two, then place them in a big heavy kettle and add a scant amount of liquid -(apple cider) – to prevent scorching – (also could use water). Cook them all down until soft. Cook on low to medium heat – to prevent scorching. Once they are soft – put them through a food mill of some sort. This will give you a nice sauce consistancy & remove all of the peels and seeds. (If you leave on the peels – it saves you work & gives the sauce a nice color.) Sweeten & spice the sauce to taste – place in sterilized jars & process as per instructions in canning book. Be sure to leave 1 inch head space. Good luck…..Carol

  47. 47
    Tiffany says:

    I once learned that apples have the most natural pectin than any other fruit. How could you utilize that (in reference to comment 45)? Did anyone you speak to have any know-how or input on that? I saw on a cooking show someone use a shredded apple or two to thicken the blueberry pie……………………just wondering if someone knew.

  48. 48
    linda says:

    I am a Master Food Preserver here in Washington and thought I would tell everyone if you keep these very long the clear jel (Ultra Jel) gets kind of globby (is that a word) anyway it doesn’t stay as pretty as when you first can it. But when you make it warm again (make it in a pie it gets all pretty again) So even though it looks thick and weird in the jar it is still good and is ok to use. I would send a picture but am not really good on the computer…but I did find your wonderful website. Thank you

  49. 49
    Victoria says:

    Great recipe! Thanks! Found ClearJel in King Arthur Flour online. Plus lots of other fantastic baking stuff sometimes hard to find in stores.

  50. 50
    Jrovanet Stocks says:

    As a grandma and mom first and a food scientist second, let me clear up a few things. Starch is generally used in pie fillings, not pectin, because pectin is hard to control and goes thin when heated. There are two kinds of Clear Jel, Instant Clear Jel and Clear Jel A. Clear Jel A is approved for canning, but goes kind of pasty and gloppy, like #48 says. Ultra Gel and Thick Gel are newer starches that stay stable for several years.

  51. 51
    Janet Stocks says:

    For recipes for lots of different kinds of pie fillings, just go to the USDA website and search for canned pie fillings. They have cherry, blackberry, apple, blueberry and lots more. I always use Thick Gel from http://www.cornabys.com–it really is the best, and you just substitute the same amound of Thick Gel for the Clear Jel A. Ultra Gel is an instant starch,so you may need to use a little more to get the same thickness.

    • 51.1
      Debi says:

      Thank you. I was wondering if there was a difference between the ultra and the thick Gels. I found clear jel at Cash and Carry, but it was a large bag and they wanted $52 for it!

  52. 52
    Vicki says:

    In the Ogden, Utah area, I know that Kitchen Kneads carries the Clear Jel, and I used to see it at the Maceys in Ogden all the time (I moved and don’t get up that way much now, but they probably still have it; it was in the baking supplies aisle by the yeast). I think Gregory’s Wheat Shop in Bountiful would also carry it.

  53. 53
    Jacki says:

    This week I had a ton of fresh ripe fruit (cherries and peaches) and there is not an ounce of clearjel in all of Dallas (if there is, speak up!! I looked everywhere that carried jars and supplies, and at a few places that didn’t). No time to order any, so I canned the filling without thickener and will thicken it when I’m ready to bake a pie. However, I do think it would be lovely to give the fillings as gifts, so I need to go ahead and order some. That apple looks delicious!!

    • 53.1
      Jana Brown says:

      I know there’s work being done to get Ultra Gel in the Whole Foods stores in Texas, but it’s not there yet. The best deal for shipping is likely the Ultra Gel three pack on the Cornaby’s site, since that uses the medium mailer from USPS, so 12 bucks shipping to get three pounds of starch. If you’re doing a lot of canning there’s a 5 pound box and a 6 pound case which have discounts and ships fairly cheaply too. I work for Cornabys, but I’m a complete Ultra Gel freak on my own. My husband calls it kitchen crack cause it goes in everything. :)

  54. 54
    leslie says:

    “Apple fie filling for canning or freezing”..or how bout eating right away with a spoon??? YUM

  55. 55
    TidyMom says:

    oooh, I would LOOOVE to make this! for gifting and for ME! lol

    Thanks so much for linking up! I featured your post in my wrap up http://tidymom.net/2011/great-ideas-7/ Have a great weekend!

  56. 56
    Sandy says:

    Adding this to my Christmas gift list!!! Thank you! Has anyone found Ultra Gel in the Seattle area?

  57. 57
    Sandy Vander Laan says:

    Just read about this delicious idea the other day and then made a trip to Shipshewana in IN and visited Das Essenhaus (infamous restaurant there). While shopping in their bakery area following dinner I ran across of all things…..Clear Gel!! I thought I’d pass the info along to those who live in the general vicinity of that area as a possible source. =^)

  58. 58
    Sandy McClay says:

    I am with you! FALL is the perfect time of year….I so want to make Christmas gifts this year, what a fun idea…I could have a Apple filling Party! LOL Thank you for all of this post! It makes it look easy and you thought of all of the questions we were going to ask before we had a chance to! Have a great week! Sandy

  59. 59
    Lisa says:

    In the instructions you mentioned to immediately process after filling your cans. I’m new to canning and have only purchased the Ball Home Discovery Canning Kit you linked to (the green basket), so I can only process a few cans at a time. Since it sounds like this makes a pretty large batch, do I just need to really scale it down, or can the filling sit for a time in the cans as I do a few batches in the water bath? Thanks so much for posting this recipe, and all the info on canning. It has really piqued my interest in canning and I’m excited to try this!

    • 59.1

      Good question Erin! Just fill your warm jars while your apples are hot and get the lids on them. After that, it’s just fine if they sit on the counter while you process a few smaller batches at a time. Keep in mind also that if you do quart jars you’ll need a pretty tall pot (tall enough that you can get water 1″ above the top of the jars. So with the smaller kit, you may want to do pint jars. Enjoy the pie filling!

    • 59.2
      Jana Brown says:

      Sara is completely right. They’ll sit happily with the lids and rings on while you work through the batches. If you have to you can even put jars that have been hot filled and lidded in the fridge over night and process the next day. However, you MUST warm them to at least room temperature after they’ve been in the fridge so the glass won’t break. And this isn’t a suggested method, but a…if you’re in a bind. Better is to keep everything warm and just work through your batches. :) I did 20 pints of salsa 8 pints at a time and it all sealed no problem.

  60. 60
    Hannah says:

    Does anyone know why corn starch isn’t recommended for canning? I made multiple batches of apple pie filling last year (we have six trees) to give as gifts and the recipe I used called for corn starch. Now I’m wondering if I accidentally poisoned everyone. Thanks!

    • 60.1
      sara says:

      Hannah, check out comment # 38.1 (don’t worry- I doubt you poisoned people! Just avoid cornstarch in the future :)

  61. 61
    Hannah says:

    Oops, never mind, got it …

    Canning apple pie filling using tapioca or cornstarch as the thickener (outdated method.) Why is this risky? Botulism is not a major risk here because the high acid content of the apple filling. However, using cornstarch or tapioca may cause the filling to be too thick for the heat to penetrate and kill spoilage organisms throughout the product—a food safety issue. Cornstarch will break down during the canning process. Your pie filling will be runny—a food quality issue.

  62. 62
    Sara says:

    I have a random question that I would love to get answered. I am going to can apple pie filling here pretty soon and I saw on your post of today 8/22/11 that you’ve had a glass top stove. My question: Can you use a glass top stove for a water bath canner and a pressure cooker or should I go buy a hot plate?

    • 62.1

      Sure, there’s nothing about a glass-top stove that makes it unsuitable for canning.

      • Jana Brown says:

        Well, that’s true and not. you need to look at the manual for YOUR stove. Newer glass tops are better but some older ones have one of two problems. Problem the first is that some glasstops can’t take the weight of a fully loaded canner and will crack under the pressure combined with the weight. Problem the second is that glass tops typically rotate through heating cycles in the way they heat. Sometimes that will keep the pot from getting to temperature, or will slow it way down. More modern glasstops have been adjusted for both situations and work fairly well. soo…check your manual and go from there. :) A hot plate will work as well and my mother loves canning on my father’s propane campstove as it means she can take all the heat of the canning outside and it heats a canner full of water in nothing flat.

        BTW…put a big scoop of this kind of apple pie filling in my oatmeal this morning. Holy yum batman.

    • 62.2
      Ashlee says:

      Be cautious with this. I was told by several people as well as in my stove’s manual that using ceramic with my glass cook top was not recommended. It can adhere to your stove top if it gets too hot. But my sister-in-law said her stove manual said it was just fine to can on her glass cook top.

  63. 63
    Carlee says:

    Thank you so much for the info. I have been struggling to find out if there was a difference between Clear Jel and Ultra Jel. The owner of a local kitchen store assured me that there wasn’t, but I didn’t trust that.
    I am going to make up and can some apple filling this weekend! Gracias!

  64. 64
    Faith says:

    Love this idea!! I’m have never canned anything before, but have been wanting to learn for a while. I would love to make some of these and give them out as Christmas gifts, but I was wondering how long is the shelf life??

  65. 65
    Julie P. says:

    When I freeze pie filling, I put it in a gallon size freezer bag and then set it inside a pie pan in the freezer. After it’s frozen, I take it out of the pan and stack the pie shaped blocks. When I want to bake a pie, the filling fits right in the pie crust without defrosting.

  66. 66
    Kris says:

    How do you cook the pie filling after it’s frozen? Do you put it in a raw crust while the filling is frozen and cook the raw crust and frozen pie filling or something else? Sorry I haven’t done this before but want to now!
    Thanks!

    • 66.1

      Don’t apologize Kris, I should have explained! You can thaw it out and use it in any raw pie crust or other desert and just cook it up. Or, if you want, you can take a pie crust in a pan and layer plastic wrap over it. Place your pie filling over the plastic and freeze the whole thing until solid. Then you can pick up the plastic wrap with the pie shaped frozen filling and place that in a zip top bag. That way you can actually pop the filling in a frozen pie crust when you want to bake it and just put it straight from freezer to oven. Does that make sense?

  67. 67
    Katie says:

    Can’t wait to try this! Do you by any chance know the shelf life?

  68. 68
    Christina says:

    Thank you soooo much for the location of Ultra Gel. I’ve tried to conserve mine for years because I thought we couldn’t buy it in the Treasure Valley anymore. I appreciate the hair pulling you had to do to find it. I’m off to Karcher Market in the morning!

  69. 69
    Erin says:

    LOVE this! I just got my hands on several cases of apples for canning-can you please….pretty please, post your label..? It’s so cute and would make perfect gifts. Thank you so much, and thank you for ALL the wonderful tips!

  70. 70
    kristen says:

    I made this yesterday and it smelled DIVINE! I want to make a pie now… any instructions for temperature and length of baking would be great! Love your book and blog!

    • 70.1
      sara says:

      So glad you liked it! I use our pie crust recipe, and bake at 375 until it’s golden brown, usually about 45 minutes or so. Enjoy!

  71. 71
    Kay Pooler says:

    I looked everywhere in Maine for Clear Jel. Finally I looked at King Arthur’s Flour on line. I ordered it and 2 days later it was here. Love your recipes.

  72. 72
    Crystal says:

    Hey, I’m super new to the canning world, but I have to try this. I have only used a steam canning thing. Can i use the same for this or do i have to do the water bath way? Thanks for your help. So excited to try!

  73. 73
    Stacey says:

    If I’m just going to freeze this as opposed to canning, can I use cornstarch safely as the thickener? I have apples I need to do something with, but don’t have time right now to try to find the ClearJel. If I do use cornstarch, any recommendations on how much?

    • 73.1
      sara says:

      Yes, if you’re freezing I think cornstarch is just fine. It’s the canning process that tends to break down the corn starch. Enjoy!

  74. 74
    Bridget Bergstrom says:

    We spent all day, Saturday as a family picking apples from our Apple trees,cleaning, peeling them (with the medieval torture device) and making the delicious pie filling. We canned them and will be gifting them this year for neighbor Christmas gifts. I feel so accomplished! :)

  75. 75
    Angela says:

    Any updates on the labels? They are so cute! I am getting ready to try this recipe this weekend!!
    Can’t wait to try it!

  76. 76
    Kiki says:

    Hi folks, I just made this recipe today. I ate the remains that wouldn’t fit in the jars. SO GOOD! Can’t wait to make a pie. I used a 5 lb bag of apples and it rendered 2 and a half quarts of pie filling. Question for those who use the “medieval torture device” type of apple corer/parer/slicer: my model (Norpro Apple Master #866) slices the apples into a spiral. Is this how you use the apples in this recipe? I don’t see any way, other than manually cutting them, to get them into uniform 1/4 inch individual slices. So we just used the paring function, and then manually cored and sliced the bag of apples.

    • 76.1
      Katie Jo says:

      After spiraling, cut the apples from the top to the bottom, so you have many half circles. I then shove as many as I can into the jar and then pour the syrup on top.

  77. 77
    Debbie says:

    I just made this and followed the recipe and it turned out way to thick, I had a hard time getting the air out and literally had to smash the apples, (I did blanch them) to get the globs down. I ended up alternating the apples and sauce, but it was still very thick. Any suggestions? Other then using less clear gel.

    • 77.1

      I’m guessing you had a mis-measurement in there somewhere or perhaps it was cooked to long? As you can see from the pictures it’s just a nice syrup, not globby at all. Better luck next time!

  78. 78
    Debbie says:

    Hi Sara, you were right on your second quess, I had the heat set to low to begin with and I did cook it to long. I just made another batch and it turned out just fine, Thank you. Can’t wait to make a pie now.

  79. 79
    Bonnie Loidolt says:

    Question: How would you use this for apple crisp?

  80. 80
    Pia says:

    I just came across this website, in search of the ‘perfect’ canned apple pie recipe- there are so many out there- but I think I will try this one first. I have 60 pounds of apples sitting on the counter, just waiting for me. In regards to the Clear Jel- it is easy to order this from Kitchen Krafts, they have a website………I found them, because I researched where to get Clear Jel, and Fruit Fresh- they are very helpful, have lots of kitchen items, that are hard to find in stores- and they ship really fast! They offer Clear Jel in two different sizes. Enjoy!

  81. 81
    Jessica says:

    I am doing this as an add on gift to my Christmas gifts, hopefully three bushels is enough for all the ones I need to do.. Anyways I was curious is there a way to add caramel to the filling? Like a the kind you would find on a caramel apple or is there a chance it could mess up the process or shelf life. Myself I was going to do a layer of apples, then a layer of caramel and so forth. But if it would not work do not wish to chance it.

  82. 82
    Carolyn E. says:

    What a small world! I live in Meridian, ID and was specifically looking for an apple pie filling/canning recipe and where to purchase the “jel” to use for apples which were brought in by a church member at my church. Anyway, thanks so much AND I REALLY look foward to getting that label for the apple pie? Pretty please? I appreciate your point of view! thanks again. Carolyn

  83. 83
    Heather H says:

    OH, just what I was looking for!! Thanks you thank you thank you!!

  84. 84
    Rachel R says:

    Just canned 36 1/2 quarts of apple pie filling yesterday using your recipe! We estimated that we used about 35-40# of apples. The little bit I sampled was delicious! My family can’t wait for a pie to be made! Just in time for the holidays! I know what I’ll be taking to Thanksgiving and plan to use these for teacher’s gifts this Christmas. Thanks for sharing!

  85. 85
    Tamara says:

    Ok, I have a really dumb question since I’ve never canned before but its something I’d like to do. How do you store these…fridge or shelf? I saw the shelf life is *at least* a year so it could hold up longer, yes? Final question: How is this for shipping?

    It does look so yummy though and hopefully it ships well b/c I have a friend who has been bugging me since about 2006 to make him an apple pie (but we’ve always lived long distance lol). I will DEFINITELY be checking this site out more often!! :D

  86. 86
    Lynda Grigg says:

    I just made this pie filling with the help of my wonderful sister-in-law. I t is FABULOUS!!!
    We ate it in pie and on top of pumpkin pancakes.
    I made enough to give as gifts, but I need pretty please the adorable label.
    My jars will be lost without the labels.
    Thanks

  87. 87
    Maureen says:

    Can flour be used to thicken this pie filling recipe like you would use when preparing a filling and baking a pie?

  88. 88

    A friend shared your site with me, and having just bought a big box of apples with Bountiful Baskets, I’m wanting to try this out. I will be freezing the filling, rather than canning it though. So, can I use cornstarch since I’ll be freezing? If so, how much? Thanks for any help!

  89. 89
    Lindsay Rashid says:

    So I hate to sound rude, but I got tired of reading through all the comments to see if I could find my answer… Does anyone know how long this canned apple pie filling will last? My goal is to make this for a soldier over seas (so it obviously will not be refrigerated or frozen) but it takes up to two weeks to get packages and I don’t want their favorite dessert to be spoiled when it gets there.

  90. 90
    Joy says:

    Oh dear I made the first batch just fine and the second batch I forgot the lemon juice. Will the jars still last for a year or do I need to use them up immediately? Love the recipe, thank you!

  91. 91
    chickndaddy says:

    What about those labels? Any chance we can get a JPEG for printing??

  92. 92
    Maureen says:

    If the apples are precooked, how long and what temperature for a pie?

  93. 93
    Jen Schefer says:

    I couldn’t find info about this in the comments but can you use sure jell or does it need to be clear jell?

  94. 94
    Anna says:

    Has anybody tried canning the filling without the clear gel? I live in a small northern community in Canada. No chance of getting the gel here. Glad I found this website otherwise I would be cannning with tapioca… Maybe I can add a the tapioca just before or in a bag with the Christmas gifts.
    I canned harvard beets earlier this month. It’s beets, vinegar, mustard powder and a few tablespoons of flour. Does anybody know if I should be freezing it since I used flour canning?

  95. 95
    Joanne Fillmore says:

    I’ve been using corn starch in my apple pie filling for 20 years now and I have never had a problem. So, don’t despair if you can’t find clear jell. Everyone loves my apple pie.

  96. 96
    Crystal L says:

    I made this yesterday, in preparation for Christmas gifts. I told myself, I should probably try it before I start handing out gifts like this…..Oh my AWESOMENESS! Filling is delicious! I poured it into a Trader Joe’s pie crust, made a crumb topping, and voila! It was like heaven in my mouth. I plan on adding decorative labels to my jars, attaching a crumb topping packet and instructions for Christmas gifts this year! Thank you for sharing this!

  97. 97
    Crystal L says:

    For those of you looking for labels, here are some adorable free ones:
    http://limeshot.com/2012/free-printable-mason-jar-labels

  98. 98
    lisa engles says:

    I absolutely LOVE this recipe! I made one batch and its already gone. Now I’m getting ready to make thanksgiving pies so will be making a big batch. If I trade the clear gel for cornstarch since this batch will go straight into pies, is the ratio 1:1 cornstarch:clear gel?
    I have friends at work lining up for a pie.
    I brought one into work last week, with the top covered with maple leaves cut out of pie dough and painted orange with edible paints. It was so cute!

    • 98.1
      Amy Robison says:

      Found this on the Ultra Gel package:
      1 T cornstarch = 2 T Ultra Gel. 1T flour or tapioca = 1 T Ultra Gel

  99. 99
    jackie says:

    I am so excited to try this recipe this year! It will also be a great Christmas gift! Thank you! But where might i find the pretty labels at???

  100. 100
    Denise says:

    What a great post! As a beginner to canning, I appreciate your detailed steps with pictures. I am really wanting to make homemade gifts for the holidays for friends, and this one looks like a winner!

  101. 101
    Evangeline says:

    Hi. Love your canning expertise! Also, love your sweet Apple Pie Filling label. Would you be so kind to share where I can find it? Thanks!

  102. 102
    Alisa Allred says:

    Just finished 93 quarts of this pie filling and it is delicious!! I found that if I mixed the liquids and the clear gel together first, it works much better as far as getting a smooth syrup! My kids like just the filling. It would be super yummy on waffles/pancakes/creeps etc!!

  103. 103
    Donna says:

    This is my first time doing this. I have cut apples and have just put sugar cinnamon on them and put them in the frig. We have been eating them like this. How long will they keep like this and can I still freeze them like this? I didn’t put anything else in it.

  104. 104
    Missy Anne says:

    Sara, thank you so much for this scruptious looking apple pie filling! I do have one question. You recommend adding more lemon juice for less tart apples, when would this be added. Is it for the water to keep them from browning or needed in the sauce? Thanks so much! I can’t wait to make my house smell like heaven!

  105. 105
    AKM says:

    Love this recipe! A friend and I made a batch yesterday–and after the water bath my jars have many bubbles in them– I had used my tool to clear the bubbles out before the water bath. There is no sticky residue that would suggest the lids leaked–and the lids are tight, no flexing, but I don’t like seeing all these bubbles. Do you have any thoughts?

  106. 106
    Becca Hayes says:

    I made this for the first time this year when we harvested the apples on our tree. I was told that sugars are interchangeable (sugars, not sweeteners!) and I subbed brown sugar for the white and apple cider for the juice. It made a more caramel-y pie filling. Perfect for a crisp or heated and spooned over a good vanilla ice cream! I highly recommend this recipe!!

  107. 107
    Debi says:

    Thank you for the information on Karcher Ranch Market! Right around the corner from me. I was wondering if Ultra gel is absolutely needed or can I use Thick Gel? What is the difference between the two besides price (i.e. functionality, clear set, likelihood of getting a lumpy mass)?

  108. 108
    Debi says:

    I found clear jel at Cash and Carry on Caldwell Blvd in Nampa Idaho, but it was a large bag and they wanted $52 for it! I think I will check out Thick Gel instead.

  109. 109
  110. 110
    Pat Nelson says:

    Love your apple pie filling in a jar. Unfortunately, I did not have apples, but had an abundance of pears. I substituted pears for apples and it was great. I have canned 7 Qts and am doing another canner today. Thanks for the great recipe. I live in Florida and I have found the ClearJel online @ Amazon, Kitchen Krafts, and Webstaurant.

  111. 111
    Melinda says:

    9/25/13. Found ClearJel at Dawns Candy and cakes in Bothell, Wa. She sells it in as little as 1lb increments. So all of you in the Seattle area, no need to order from the internet :)

  112. 112
    Jack says:

    I froze this in freezer bags and wondered, do you need to cook it, oops?

  113. 113
    Katie Jo says:

    Two years ago after reading this post I was ready to make apple pie filling and couldn’t fill Clear Jel/Ultra Jel anywhere!! I ended up just canning the pie filling without it and when I use my pie filling I thicken it to my liking prior to. Well- this year my Walmart is carrying it! So check out your Walmart shelves in the baking section. Also, this recipe is really really good!! I am going to do some tonight- I just picked 5 bushels of apples!!

  114. 114
    Laura says:

    In Utah, I finally found the Ultra Gel and Thick Gel at Macey’s. Can’t wait to try this out!

  115. 115
    Becky says:

    Not sure why, but every time I do canning recipes, it never makes as much as it says. I know canning needs to be very specific so I am careful about how I measure but it always turns out less. Hope it all ends up being ok to put on the shelf. I get nervous. When I made this I didn’t even fill the 6th jar up all the way.

  116. 116
    Tammy says:

    Sara, this is FANTASTIC!!! I do think you should change the yield of the recipe, though….. When I finally got to the point of filling the jars there was only 6 1/3 quarts instead of 7. Oh, wait…. I wonder if it is the fact that my kids couldn’t keep their grubby little paws holding spoons digging in and ‘testing’ it. Okay, it wasn’t only my kids;) Thanks SO MUCH FOR THIS RECIPE!!!

  117. 117
    Melissa says:

    If you are freezing the filing does it need the clear gel? Is it for canning for for the filling?

  118. 118
    Anne says:

    I’m brand new to pies…. Made the filling and it turned out GREAT! Thanks so much. But now that I’ve made my pie crusts… do I pre-bake them, then fill, then bake the pie? Or do I put the filling in the “raw” pie crust, and bake all at once? Is it the pie crust recipe that dictates the cooking time or the filling? I’m lost! Thanks for your help!

  119. 119
    Mary Jane says:

    Can I use Splenda with ultra gel for pie filling?

  120. 120
    DY says:

    Hi! your recipe looks great! New to canning and my question is, instead of slices, will it alter the outcome if I want to do smaller, 1/2-3/4 inch chunks of apple as I’m thinking of putting them in pint jars to make smaller pie/tarts & easier gift giving (over pancakes!).

    Thank you!

  121. 121
    Sue says:

    Do you have to can the recipe for one pie, or can you just go ahead and bake it without canning it first?

  122. 122
    Theresa Sea says:

    Tried this today after receiving 28lbs of apples from friends, and can I say it is absolutely FABULOUS! It tastes great, and smells divine. Thank you for sharing!

  123. 123
    Lauren says:

    I have a question for you..

    I do a fundraiser every year and we make about 200 apple pies. We usually do them for 12 hours a day for two to three days. This year I wanted to do a few every day. I was thinking of spending a week just making the filling and storing it.

    The recipe we use does not include lemon or any thickener.. If I wanted to store the filling in the freezer to then place in the pie pans a week or so later.. Do I need lemon or thickener?

    Do you think I could place the mason jars in hot water to unfreeze them before putting them in the pie pans?

    After making the pies we freeze them and they taste awesome! I’ve just never frozen the filling before hand.. Any suggestions? I’ve also never canned before!

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