This pie filling is so fresh and delicious, it’s like opening a jar of high summer. If you close your eyes for a minute, the pure fruit smell with no commercial taints to it will have you thinking you’re in the middle of a field of berries on a hot summer day.
You may wish to double or triple this recipe to get a full canner load: if so, just do your calculations on paper first before proceeding so that you aren’t trying to do mental gymnastics in the thick of things.
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: 4 x half-litre (US pint) jars
Headspace: 3 cm (1.25 inches)
Processing time: 30 minutes
Blueberry Pie Filling
Yield: 4 x half-litre (US pint) jars
- 2 kg blueberries (7 cups / 4.5 lbs)
- 500 ml water (2 cups / 16 oz)
- 350 g sugar (white. 1 ⅔ cups / 12 oz) OR 2 teaspoons liquid stevia
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest (optional)
- 6 drops blue food colouring (optional)
- 4 drops red food colouring (optional)
- 75 g Clearjel (⅔ cup / 2.5 oz)
Fill a large pot half full of water. Bring to a rolling boil, add blueberries. When the water returns to the boil, start timing 1 minute. Then drain the berries out (discard the blanching water), return them to the pot, and cover the pot to keep the berries warm.
In a separate large pot, add the fresh water, sugar, lemon juice and zest (if using), and food colouring (if using). Stir well. Sprinkle the Clearjel over the surface; whisk well to mix all in.
Put on stove burner, stirring very constantly. As soon as it starts to heat up, the Clearjel will thicken very suddenly on you. Keep whisking then remove from heat.
With a spoon, carefully fold in the drained warm blueberries.
Ladle into half-litre (1 US pint / 16 oz) jars or 1 litre (1 US quart / 32 oz) jars.
Leave 3 cm (1 ¼ inch) headspace.
Debubble, adjust headspace.
Wipe jar rims.
Put lids on.
Process in a water bath or steam canner.
Process either size jar for 30 minutes; increase time as needed for your altitude.
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.
- Blueberries can have a dull blue colour that can make the pie filling look unappealing; the food colouring can restore the expected “natural” colour to it. If using food colouring is not something you choose to do in your kitchen, omit.
- This pie filling can turn out quite thick. The second time you make it, you may wish to cut back a bit on the Clearjel. It is safe to do so if you do.
- They want that little bit extra headspace in this recipe because the filling does expand a bit during processing.
- If you really want to keep the calories light, try making your pie crust (or tart shells) with 3 or 4 sheets of filo pastry instead of short-crust pastry. Delicious!
- Using frozen blueberries. Yes you can, see below.
- 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.
- How much sweetener you need will depend on the tastes of your crowd and how sweet / tart that particular batch of fruit was.
Using frozen blueberries
So Easy to Preserve says, “Frozen blueberries can be used in the above recipe. Follow the same basic recipe, making the following adjustments. Select unsweetened frozen blueberries if possible. If sweetened fruit is used, rinse the fruit while it is still frozen. As the fruit thaws, collect any juice and use it for part of the water specified in the recipe. Use ¼ cup [Ed: 4 tablespoons / 30 g] Clearjel for one quart; 1 ¾ cups [Ed: 210 g / 7.5 oz] for seven quarts.”
No substitute for Clearjel
You can’t use flour or cornstarch etc, in this 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.
- Kingry, Judi and Lauren Devine. Ball / Bernardin Complete Book of Home Preserving. Toronto: Robert Rose. 2015. Page 171.
- Bernardin Guide to Home Preserving. Toronto, Canada: Bernardin Ltd. 2013. Page 40. (Allows 1 litre size, for same processing time.)
- Blueberry Pie Filling. In: United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Complete guide to home canning. Agriculture information bulletin No. 539. 2015. Page 2 – 27.
- Blueberry Pie Filling. In: Andress, Elizabeth L. and Judy A. Harrison. So Easy to Preserve. University of Georgia Cooperative Extension. Bulletin 989. Sixth Edition. 2014. Page 108.
Serving size: 1 x ½ litre (US pint / 2 cups / 16 oz) jar
Per ½ litre:
- 652 calories, 9 mg sodium
Per ½ litre:
- 323 calories, 9 mg sodium
- Weight Watchers PointsPlus®: 9 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.
Cooking with canning
Some people say to take a jar of blueberry pie filling, empty into a bowl, then fold in a drained half-litre (1 US pint) jar of plain canned blueberries, and use that, for a really fruity and generous blueberry pie.