Trouble Shooting Canned Apple Pie Filling – Recipe and How to Make it Right

This fall I had the opportunity buy a bushel of apples for $14! What a deal. So I called up my sister and decided to dry and home can apples. Even though I have done this for several years now, I am still learning. First I will share my recipe that I found from the Ball canning website. It makes a very delicious pie! Then read on for some trouble shooting information! Don’t make the same mistakes as me.

This recipe uses a water bath canner

Makes 4 quarts or about 7 pints. One quart makes one pie, however, I usually drain out 1/4 cup liquid before dumping the whole jar into the pie crust. In the past I have used the whole quart and it has boiled over in the oven.


  • 12 cups of peeled, cored, and sliced, apples (I sliced these into 1/6 rather than 1/2)
  • 2-3/4 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup ClearJel (read more below)
  • 1-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2-1/2 cups of unsweetened apple juice (read some easy methods for this below)
  • 1-1/4 cups cold water
  • 1/2 cup of lemon juice


  • Large water bath canner
  • Small pot of water for jars and lids to sterilize
  • 4 quart canning jars or 7 pint jars
  • lids and rings
  • 6-8 quart pot for creating the apple pie filling


  1. Boil water in your large water bath canner. Place your jars into the canner by tipping them sideways and then slowly lowing them into the pot. Reduce heat to simmer. Do NOT boil. Keep these in the water until you are ready to fill.boiling-jars
  2. Wash lids or place in another pot that is boiling.
  3. Peel, core, and slice the apples. I would use an apple peeler corer slicer, but you can also blanch the apples and then peel
  4. In your other pot, combine the sugar, ClearJel, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Next add the apple juice and water and mix together. Heat until boiling. Add lemon juice and the apple slices until they are heated through. Remove from
  5. Use a laddle and place the apple and liquid into jars. Remove air bubbles, wipe rims with wet rag, place lid on the jar, and screw on the ring.filling-jars-with-apple-pie-filling
  6. Place jars into the water bath canner and allow them to boil for 25 minutes (make sure the water covers the jars completely). Remove jars and cool. Do not touch for at least 5 hours. If the lid does not seal, place in the refrigerator immediately. canned-apple-pie-filling


Trouble Shooting Your Canning:

Why do I need to use ClearJel? Can I replace ClearJel?

ClearJel is just brand name for a canning starch. A starch helps to make your pie filling thicker. After about 30 minutes of mulling it over, I found that cornstarch is no longer considered safe for canning, but unflavored gelatin is. Gelatin will add a slightly different texture than usual. I did not have enough ClearJel, so I combined with gelatin and it worked well.

How do I peel, core, and slice my apples?

The best money you will spend is a small appliance called an “apple, peeler, corer, slicer.” This will allow you slice up your apples within in minutes! Get one today! However, you can blanch your apples. Then you can just chop the round apple into pieces. cored-peeled-sliced-apples

How do I get some unsweetened apple juice?

Many places sell unsweetened apple juice, but if you happen to not read the ingredients before hand (hem, hem, I NEVER do that), you can juice your apple peels and cores into apple juice. This worked fabulous! We actually started to do this in all our scrapes, and then processed the two additional quarts of just juice. breville-juicer

Why do I need to add lemon juice into the recipe?

Lemon juice adds acidic which makes the apple pie filling safe to be canned in a water bath canner. This is not able to be tasted in the pie. You do not need this if you choose to pressure cook your pie filling. You will need to look up the pressure of another apple pie filling recipe.

Why do I place the jars sideways into the water bath canner?

Placing the jars on the their side allows water to fill them without creating a splash that can burn you… yes, I did this on accident… Go slowly!

Why should the water bath canner not get to a boil with the jars?

The boiling water can not only tip over a jar, but you don’t want the jars to be too hot. When glass changes temperature too fast, it can crack. This means placing it in already boiling water, or removing it quickly, can make the jar crack.

Why do you have to wipe the rims of the jar?

The jar lid has to be wiped so that they the lids can seal. If there is anything blocking the lid, the rubber will not create a seal.

How do I know if my jars sealed and how long can it take to seal?

I typically leave my jars out over night or around 6 hours. Sometimes I will hear the jars “pop” through the night. You will know if the jars sealed because the lids will not bend up or down when pressed. However, do NOT push on them until they have been sitting for several hours. Pushing on them too early can keep them from sealing.


What if my jars did not seal?

My lids did not seal on one of the batches. I realized that I had “boiled” the lids for too long. Then I realized that several of the lids were touching and started to stick together. Make sure they are all separated! It may be just a mistake from the lids sticking to each other, but I realized that the Ball brand of lids stuck better than the Walmart brand of lids. Just noting.

My sister and I also noticed that, once boiled, some jars showed a large gap between the apples and the lids. The amount of liquid was also low. This may have caused the jar to not seal. I would recommend add the apples, then pouring the juice out evenly. Shake the apples and juice down to make sure everything is settled. Adding some more may be necessary. You will still need to place the apples in the hot liquid so that everything is hot when you fill the jars.


The jar on the right is the one that did not seal. Notice it ended up getting very low.

Some recipes you cannot re-process. However, this recipe is okay to reprocess (I have needed to it after my lids did not seal)! Make sure you use new lids! Throw the other ones away. If it’s only one jar, I would put it in the fridge and use it up for a delicious pie! Another p

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