I am so excited to share with you all a fantastic apple pie filling recipe. I have been using this for 3 years now, and it has not disappointed me once! I was a little nervous to try it with my fresh orchard apples the first year trying it, because I didn’t want it to be a waste. But I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome, and will continue to do it this way for years to come!
This recipe is perfect for freezing. You can even make up pies using this filling and freeze the whole thing. The best part? NO RUNNY, WATERY PIES! I will admit, that is one thing I struggled with in the past… I think that is a very common problem with making apple pies from scratch. This pie filling is identical to the apple pie filling you buy at the store, but 100 times better!
With simple ingredients, and a little time peeling and cutting your apples, you can whip this filling up in a couple hours. Maybe even sooner if you have help, which I did not. :) I have wanted to can this to give out as Christmas gifts, but have never gotten around to buying the Clear Jel online in time to try. This recipe is not recommended for canning because of the safety issues with using cornstarch. Clear Jel is a modified corn starch which is safe for canning. I will try that some year, and just substitute the cornstarch with Clear Jel.
Anyway, back on topic. You want to get your orchard apples (I picked the drops) home and get right to processing them as soon as you can. That way they won’t rot and go to waste, and you get that very fresh orchard apple taste. Oh, I just love fresh apples.
Here’s how I do it:
Gather your supplies, and set aside. What you really need to work on first are peeling, coring and slicing the apples. If you have an apple peeler/corer, then good for you! That makes the process much faster. If you are like me, then a regular peeler works great.
Peel, core and slice 18-20 cups of apples. Pick a heartier apple that will hold up in a pie. I am using Cortlands and Empires. To keep your apples from turning brown and looking yucky, slice them into a bowl filled with water and a couple tablespoons of lemon juice. This keeps them looking nice. You can measure them out later on (without the water) and transfer them when your bowl starts to get full. I would recommend 20 heaping cups of apples. I used a 4 cup glass measuring container.
After your apples have been prepared, fill a large pot (I borrowed my parent’s stock pot) with the water. Warm it up on medium heat. Once you begin to see a little steam, add your sugar, cornstarch and spices. Here is where you can experiment a little if you want. I have made this recipe using all white sugar before and it is great. I decided to use 1 cup of dark brown sugar this time for a darker syrup and a more caramel-y flavor. You definitely don’t have to use it, or you could use more than I did! Just stick to the 4 1/2 cups of sugar, and it doesn’t matter how much of what kind you use. I wouldn’t recommend using all brown sugar though. Also, add more or less of the spices. Or add a different kind that you like the flavor of.
The pictures above show you different ways to blend your syrup so it does not come out with cornstarch or spice clumps. The second photo shows the syrup after it has cooked a bit. I used an immersion blender to be sure it was smooth, but a whisk works just fine too.
TIP: Slowly sprinkle your cornstarch into the pot and whisk as you go to ensure it blends smoothly.
Let your syrup (that smells amazing at this point!) come to a boil and time it for 2 minutes. Next, grab your sliced apples that have been drained, and add them to the pot. Fold in so that all apples are coated.
Let this cook/simmer for about 10 minutes. Tilt the lid on top, but don’t let it sit on tightly. Your syrup might burn on that way. Stir every few minutes. Simmering this for only 10 minutes turns the apples to the point where they are tender, but still have a crunch to them. They will finish cooking when you put them into a pie or whatever you are using the filling for.
After 10 minutes, turn off the heat and let sit for a few minutes before taking the next step: filling freezer bags. While it is cooling down a little, you could mark your freezer bags with a Sharpie. Please make sure you buy the actual freezer bags, so your pie filling stays fresh in your freezer! Hefty is very durable, and the zip on top makes it very easy to seal. I have used up&up bags before too, but I like these better.
On to the fun part. To fill your bags, a funnel is what I would recommend using. But since I don’t own one (yet), I just fold the top of the bag down on itself a couple inches and try to avoid making a mess. Whether you use a funnel or a different method to filling the bags, you will make a little bit of a mess. It’s just what happens! :) Keep a wet cloth or paper towel next to you so you can wipe off the bags completely when they are zipped.
Measure out 4 cups into the bag. Try to squeeze out all the air before zipping the top. Wipe down with wet cloth and set aside to finish cooling. The filling should fill 6-7 quart bags.
Let your pie filling finish cooling completely before putting into your freezer. These freeze well stacked on top of each other.
One bag = one 9″ pie. It’s so easy to whip up a pie crust or buy one, add the pie filling and bake. Bake just as you normally would an apple pie. The results are amazing.
I hope you enjoy making this as much as I do! I love the feeling of getting pie filling into my freezer, and I love that you can use it for other recipes too. Let me know how it works out for you. If you have any questions regarding the process, please ask in the comments section below.
Apple Pie Filling
by The Happy Homemaker
18-20 cups apples
4-1/2 cups sugar (3-1/2 granulated – 1 cup brown)
1 cup cornstarch
4 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. all-spice
1 tsp. salt
4-6 tbsp. lemon juice
7 cups water
The Happy Homemaker