Baking is one of my favorite pastimes during the holidays because I just love to prepare special treats for my loved ones, especially if those treats are ones that we only enjoy once a year. Sometimes though, the amount of things on my to-do list gets a little overwhelming, and it's in those situations I'm thankful that I spent a little extra time before the holidays preparing some helpful items in advance.
I roast pumpkins, make pie dough, put together mini chicken pot pies and pasta dishes - anything I can fit in the freezer. I also preserve as much as possible ahead of time, including my homemade cranberry sauce for our Thanksgiving dinner, and this easy apple pie filling.
Canning this filling ahead of time is the perfect way to whip up a delicious dessert in minutes, without sacrificing the homemade part of your treat - which is wonderful when you're pressed for time or have unexpected company. Feel free to play with the spices and tailor them to your tastes. And, feel free to also use the filling for a number of other desserts, including apple turnovers, apple strudel, or apple crumble.
For a boozy version, replace 1/2 cup of the cider with your favorite brandy or bourbon.
- 12 cups apples, cored, peeled, and sliced
- 2 3/4 cups granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup clear jel
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- pinch ground cloves
- 1 1/4 cups water
- 2 1/2 cups apple cider
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
First, treat the apples to prevent browning. In a large bowl, submerge the cut apples in a mixture of 1/4 cup lemon juice and 4 cups water.
When ready to begin canning, blanch the apple slices for 1 minute in a large pot filled with boiling water. Remove them with a slotted spoon.
In a large stainless steel pan, combine the sugar, ClearJel, spices, water, and juice. Bring to a boil and stir constantly until the mixture thickens. Add in the lemon juice. Remove the mixture from the heat, and then fold in the apple slices.
Prepare your canning supplies. Bring the temperature of the glass jars up by processing them in hot water for several minutes, and heat a few cups of water in a small saucepan for the lids.
Ladle the hot apples into the hot jars, leaving 1 1/4″ headspace. Place the lids and bands on top, screwing on the bands just until fingertip-tight. Place the full jars back into the boiling water and process 25 minutes. Allow the jars to sit in the canner 10 minutes with the heat and lid off. Remove from the water and place the jars on a towel. Let the jars cool. The seals should suck down (you’ll hear a popping noise as they do).
A note on ClearJel: ClearJel is a cooking starch that is recommended for use in home canning, because reheating should not cause it to lose its viscosity. It is not widely available in grocery stores, so I bought mine on Amazon.com.
Recipe adapted from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.