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How to Can Apple Pie Filling in a Water Bath

Updated: Mar 7

Apple pie is a staple dessert in the American diet. Apples grow abundantly in our area of the Pacific Northwest and we take advantage of the fruitful harvest. Canning the apples allows us to get this fabulous fruit preserved while it is in season and have it all year long. Apple pie filling also makes for quick and easy pie, crisp, and pancake topping. Yum!



This recipe was obtained from my (Marie’s) older sister who is a fabulous cook. She also has 7 children and I am always amazed at what she can accomplish in the kitchen. I have gotten a number of recipes from her over time and I am so glad. A few years ago her house tragically burned down and I was so grateful that I had some of her favorite recipes that I could return to her.


The big thing with canning is planning ahead. If everything is prepared and you time things right, canning goes smoothly. I think one of the hard things is that it is seasonal, so you might forget certain details over the year before you can a particular fruit again. Hopefully, our video will help you to remember the way that works best for you.

Generally, this recipe makes 6-7 quarts of apple pie filling. For me, I usually get 6 quarts. I double it so I can fill up my canner with 7 jars. I can then save the rest of the sauce and use it on my next batch. On that second batch, I then only add one batch worth of apples, and so on for future batches until my sauce or my apples are gone. If you do end up with more sauce than you need you can use it on waffles or pancakes.

In preparation, you want to sanitize the jars and lids. I wash my jars at a high temperature in the dishwasher and place my lids in a small pan of water on the stove. I do not turn the stove on yet.

Apple Pie Filling Ingredients

  • 10 cups water

  • 8 pounds sliced, peeled, tart apples

  • 4 1/2 cups sugar

  • 1 cup cornstarch

  • 3 tablespoons + 1/4 cup lemon juice

  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Making Apple Pie Filling

Blend sugar, cornstarch (You can substitute with Clearjel, which has a better record for canning.), and spices in a large pot off the heat. Mixing these all together now makes it so the cornstarch will not clump. Being able to see the dark spices helps you to know when it has been mixed thoroughly.

Add water to the dry ingredient mixture, mix it well and turn the burner on medium-high. Cook it over medium to high heat until it has thickened. This can take as long as 15-30 minutes.

While this is cooking, fill your boiling water bath about halfway and place it on medium heat to warm up. We want it warm, but we do not want it to boil yet.

Half fill a large bowl with warm water and 1/4 cup of lemon juice. Peel, slice, and core apples while you are waiting for the sauce to thicken, stir the sauce regularly. Be sure to scrape the sides and bottom. If you use an apple peeler/slicer/corer, slice the spiraled apple slices in half (or whatever sized apple chunks you want).

Place the apples into the lemon water to reduce discoloring from oxidation. Continue to stir the sauce until it is thick, then turn off the heat and add 3 tablespoons of lemon juice. The lemon juice adds to the acidity of the sauce.

Filling the Jars

Turn on the burner for the jar lids. Bring it to a boil and leave it at a simmer until you are ready to use the lids. Check back on the water level regularly to be sure it hasn’t boiled off.

Now you have 2 options: You can add the apples to the sauce and stir to coat them. Then place them in hot quart-sized jars. The second option is to ladle a scoop of sauce into the bottom of the jar, then stack in the apples, leaving room for the sauce, pour some more sauce over the apples leaving 1 inch of headspace. Wipe off the rim of the jar with a clean cloth. Without touching the underside, place the lids on the jars and tighten them until they are fingertip-tight.

Canning Apple Pie Filling

Place the filled jars in the water bath. The water should be 1 inch above the top of the jars once all of them have been added. If the water is too low, add more hot water. If it is too high it might boil over, so remove some. I like to use a liquid cup measure that has a nice handle to avoid burning myself with the hot water. Bring the water to a rolling boil (see the video for an example of this) then start a timer for 25 minutes (see recipe notes for elevation time adjustments.)

Once the time has passed and the apple pie filling has been water bath processed, take off the lid, turn off the heat and allow the jars to cool for 5 minutes. Then, remove the jars from the boiling water bath and place them on a towel on the counter. The towel protects the counter from being burned and the jar from the cool counter, which could break the jar due to the temperature difference.

Allow the jars to sit for 24 hours.

Processing Complete

After 24 hours, check to be sure that the lids have been sealed down. Lids will suck down if they are sealed. You may even hear some popping noises as the jars cool and seal. If you have any that do not seal, place them in the refrigerator and use them within the next week. Label your jars with the contents and date preserved. Store sealed jars in a clean, cool, dark place. The ideal storing temperature is 50 – 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Home canned goods are best if used in the first year but can be used up to three years from the time canned. After that, the nutritional value begins to decrease. Remember: When in doubt, throw it out. If the food looks questionable, it is best not to chance it.

This apple pie filling can be used for pie (no surprise there), crisp, on pancakes or waffles, as ice cream topping, and any number of other uses. I have even used it as a base for smoothies and blended it up and dehydrated it for some of the best fruit leather.

If you have any questions or comments please let us know. If you try the recipe come back and leave us a comment letting us know how it turned out.

To learn other great ways to preserve apples, just follow this link:

We also have a YouTube channel with many helpful videos available here:


Altitude Adjustments for Boiling Water Bath Canner

Altitude in Feet - increase processing time

1,001-3,000 - increase 5 minutes

3,001-6,000 - increase 10 minutes

6,001-8,000 - increase 15 minutes

8,001-10,000 - increase 20 minutes

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