Delicious homemade sugar-free apple pie filling — in jars on the shelf ready for nearly-instant desserts.
This is a high-quality product developed by the USDA that most people can’t say enough good about.
Please note that ingredients are per litre (US quart) jar of end product. If you want to do a standard canner load of 7 such large jars, multiply by 7.
We present two versions, the regular version, and a sugar-free version which reduces the calories by 60%.
Jar size choices: Either half-litre (1 US pint / 500 ml/ 16 oz) OR 1 litre (US quart / 32 oz)
Processing method: Water bath or steam canning
Yield: 1 litre (US quart) jar. Multiply recipe as desired.
Headspace: 3 to 4 cm (1 to 1.25 inches)
Processing time: 25 minutes (all jar sizes)
Apple Pie Filling
Ingredients are per litre (US quart) jar
- 500 g apple (washed, peeled, cored, sliced. 4 cups / 1 lb. Measurements after prep)
- 4 tablespoons Clearjel ( 30 g / ¼ cup)
- 175 g sugar (white. ¾ cup / 6 oz)
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
- 125 ml water (cold. ½ cup / 4 oz)
- 175 ml apple juice (unsweetened. ¾ cup / 6 oz)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice (bottled)
- 1 dash nutmeg
Prep the apples. Slice no more than 2 cm (½ inch) thick. Set aside in a large bowl or pot with in water with some lemon juice or ascorbic acid in it to prevent discolouring.
In a large pot, mix together the Clearjel, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg if using, water and apple juice. Set aside.
Boil a large pot of water (4 litres / quarts). Add about 500 g / 4 cups of apples at a time to the boiling water. When the water returns to the boil after adding the apples, time 1 minute, then remove the apples with a slotted spoon or strainer, and put in a bowl or pot and cover to keep warm.
Repeat for all apples.
Put the apple juice mixture pot on to cook over medium high-heat.
When it starts to thicken, which will be very soon, add the lemon juice.
Cook for 1 minute, then remove from heat.
Stir in the apple.
Ladle apple into prepared half-litre (1 US pint) or 1 litre (1 US quart) jars
Leave 3 cm ( 1 inch) headspace.
Debubble, adjust headspace.
Wipe jar rims.
Put lids on.
Process in a water bath or steam canner.
Process either size jar for 25 minutes; increase time as needed for your altitude.
|Jar size||0 to 300 m (0 - 1000 feet)||301 to 900 m (1,001 - 3,000 ft)||901 - 1,800 m (3,001 - 6,000 ft)||1,801 m (6,000 ft) and above|
|½ litre (1 US pint)||25 mins||30 mins||35 mins||40 mins|
|1 litre (1 US quart)||25 mins||30 mins||35 mins||40 mins|
How to water bath process.
How to steam can.
When water-bath canning or steam canning, you must adjust the processing time for your altitude.
More information about Sugar and Salt-Free Canning in general.
- The measurement for the apple is for already-prepped apple. After blanching, that’s 3 ½ cups in volume of blanched apple, and still around 500 g in weight;
- Slice the apples no more than 1 cm (½ inch) thick. Thicker slices may trap too much air in them, which during processing will try to escape from the jar and cause product overflow. For the same reason, don’t skip blanching the apple pieces: blanching gets air out;
- Some people advise to leave headspace of 3 cm (1 ¼ inches), because of how much this swells during processing. Others say excess headspace won’t help: instead, take the precautions mentioned above;
- Optional: 1 drop of yellow food colouring per litre (US quart) jar being prepared;
- You can reduce the sugar, or use the same volume amount of granulated Splenda®, or use 1 teaspoon of liquid stevia. For stevia, we’d recommend Better Stevia liquid stevia.
- You may wish to reduce the amount of Clearjel by 1 tablespoon. It is safe to so; you are reducing the density.
No substitute for Clearjel
You can’t use flour or cornstarch etc, in this USDA recipe, only Clearjel.
Pamela Schmutz at Clemson University explains:
The recipes for fruit pie fillings all use a modified food starch called Clear Jel®. This starch produces the correct thickening, even after the fillings are canned and baked. Other starches, such as cornstarch, break down and result in a runny filling. Clear Jel® must be used as the thickener in these recipes; there is no substitution. Do not use any other form of Clear Jel®, such as Instant Clear Jel®. ”  Schmutz, Pamela. Pie Fillings. Georgia: Clemson University Extension. HGIC 3160. August 2010. Accessed August 2015.
NOTE: Penn State Extension and Utah State Extension back the Thermflo and Thick Gel brand names of modified starch respectively as equivalents to Clearjel.
Do not use recipes from allrecipes.com, etc, that appear to make a similar home canned pie filling with cornstarch.
How to make a pie with this pie filling
A 1 litre (quart) jar makes an ample 20 cm (8 inch) pie.
For a 23 cm (9 inch) pie:
- 1 litre (US quart) jar makes a scant pie;
- 2 of these jars makes for a generously filled pie;
- Some people say to take a 1 litre jar, empty into a bowl, then mix in a half-litre (1 US pint) jar of plain canned apple slices, and use that, for a really fruity and generous 23 cm (9 inch) apple pie.
Apple Pie Filling. In: United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Complete guide to home canning. Agriculture information bulletin No. 539. 2015. Page 2-26.
Serving size: 1 litre (US quart / 4 cups / 32 fluid oz) jar
Per 1 litre / US quart:
- 1054 calories, 15 mg sodium
Per 1 litre / US quart:
- 398 calories, 15 mg sodium
- Weight Watchers PointsPlus®: 11 points.
* Nutrition info provided by https://caloriecount.about.com
* PointsPlus™ calculated by healthycanning.com. Not endorsed by Weight Watchers® International, Inc, which is the owner of the PointsPlus® registered trademark.
* Better Stevia ® is a registered trademark of the NOW Foods Company.