I posted recently about different methods of preserving food, with a particular focus on home canning.
My first experiment last year was salmon, new potatoes and shallots in olive oil but as I was only able to heat treat at 100°C, I’m not confident about having eradicated the risks of botulism, so will likely discard the results, even though they look great in the jars. I am hoping to buy a pressure canner soon, and will return to preserving fish and meat then.
In the mean time, 100°C is considered sufficient when canning products which contain a certain level of acid, such as apples. As I mentioned in my recent post about apple, date and ginger chutney, we have a lot of apples to use up!
There are 10 jars of chutney and 12 jars of apple jelly in the preserves cupboard. The freezer is already full. I decided to try canning apple pie filling. The advantage over freezing (quite aside from lack of available freezer space) is that it’s much quicker to make an apple pie. Buy or rustle up a portion of pastry, line the pie dish, pour in a jar of filling, lay on the pastry lid and bake!
I based my canning on several American recipes, many of which are very similar. They all call for canning into 1 quart (1 litre) jars but I opted for 750 litre jars for two reasons. Firstly, as there are only two of us, we don’t want to make really large pies. Secondly, these jars fit into the cauldron I’m currently using for the heat treatment whereas the 1 litre jars don’t!
How to Can Apple Pie Filling
Makes 6-7 x 750 ml jars
3 kilos apples, unpeeled weight *
800 grams sugar
250 grams corn flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
0.5 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 litres water
(Optional: extra lemon juice to stop apples from browning during preparation)
Note: I used half cooking apples and half eating apples.
Sterilise jars, caps and lids. I oven sterilise the jars and boil caps and lids on the stove top. I always sterilise a couple of extra jars as when you cook with fresh produce, the amount you make will vary.
Peel, core and slice apples. I peel all the apples first, then core and quarter them all, and finally slice. I store the peeled apples in a large pan of water with a little lemon juice added to stop them from browning while I work).
In a large stock pot combine the sugar, corn flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, lemon juice and water and heat until the sugar fully dissolves, and the syrup thickens.
Drain the sliced apples. Combine the syrup and apples together in a large pan. My 8.5 litre maslin pan from Lakeland was perfect.
First transfer the apples into the sterilised jars up to the marked filling line. Use a spatula or spoon down the inside edge of the jars to wiggle the contents about a little and allow them to pack down further. You want to fit as many apples into each jar as you can without actually squashing them down.
Next, pour the syrup into the jars, also up to the marked fill line.
- Wipe the rims clean, position the disc caps and screw the lids in place.
Prepare your water bath and bring the water up to boiling. In my case, I used a large aluminium stock pot with a couple of thick tea towels on the base and additional tea towels pushed between and around the sides of the jars to separate them and keep them from touching the pan directly.
Carefully lower jars into the pan, ensuring that the water comes up at least two inches above the tops of the lids.
Boil the jars for half an hour. Check regularly to ensure that the water is still boiling and to top it up to the correct level, if necessary. (Do this from a boiled kettle so you don’t reduce the temperature).
Once processed, remove the jars and leave to cool.
The heat treatment should have created a vacuum seal.
You will notice that the apples shrink during the heat treatment. When we made our first apple pie, we used some of the syrup in the pie and served the rest as a delicious sauce over the top.
The pie filling was fabulous, so I’m really looking forward to cracking open the other jars. However, I’m also very happy that they will last for at least a year or two in the store cupboard, should we wish.
To make your apple pie, simply line a pie dish with short crust pastry, spoon in your filling, lay a pastry lid over the top, crimp the sides, make a slit on top for the steam to vent and bake for about half an hour. I would suggest a 7-8 inch pie dish for a 750 ml jar and an 8-9 inch dish for a 100 ml jar.
You will likely have left over syrup that doesn’t fit into the jars. Either store in sterilised jars or keep in the fridge and use over the next week. It would make a great sauce to serve with pancakes or over ice cream, stir into a bowl of porridge or rice pudding, whisk into a salad dressing with oil and vinegar. I think it would also make a great apple cake, along the lines of lemon drizzle, pouring the apple syrup over a simple apple cake.
With thanks to Le Parfait for sending me some of their jars to play with.