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®.
Clear Jel® is not currently available in traditional grocery stores. Obtain your Clear Jel® before assembling the fruit and other ingredients to make these pie fillings. In most areas, mail order is the only source. Several sources can be found on the internet. There are about 2 cups in 1 pound of Clear Jel®.
Because the variety of fruit may alter the flavor of the fruit pie, first process a trial quart, and make a pie. Then adjust the sugar and spices in the recipe to suit your preferences. The amount of lemon juice should not be altered because it helps with the safety and storage stability of the fillings. Each canned quart makes one 8- to 9-inch pie. The processing times given are for altitudes of 0-1,000 feet. Add 5 minutes at altitudes of 1,001 to 3,000 feet.
Apple Pie Filling
(1 Quart Recipe) (7 Quart Recipe)
3½ cups sliced apples 6 quarts apples
¾ cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar 5 ½ cups granulated sugar
¼ cup Clear Jel® 1½ cups Clear Jel®
½ cup cold water 2½ cups cold water
½ teaspoon cinnamon 1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons bottled lemon juice ¾ cup bottled lemon juice
¾ cup apple juice 5 cups apple juice
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg (optional) 1 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
1 drop yellow food coloring (optional) 7 drops yellow food coloring (optional)
Procedure: Wash, peel, and core apples. Prepare slices ½-inch wide and place in 1 gallon of water containing 1 teaspoon or 3,000 mg ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) to prevent browning. Drain fruit. To blanch the fruit, place 6 cups at a time in 1 gallon of boiling water. Boil each batch for 1 minute after the water returns to a boil. Drain, but keep the heated fruit in a covered bowl or pot. Combine sugar, Clear Jel®, and cinnamon in a large kettle with water and apple juice. If desired, food coloring and nutmeg may be added. Stir and cook on medium-high heat until the mixture thickens and begins to bubble. Add lemon juice and boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Fold in drained apple slices immediately and fill jars with mixture without delay, leaving 1-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles, wipe jar rims with a dampened clean paper towel and adjust lids. Immediately process in a boiling water bath canner for 25 minutes for pints or quarts.
For more information, see fact sheet # 3160 on Clemson’s Home & Garden Information Center: https://hgic.clemson.edu/factsheet/pie-fillings/.
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