Apple pie is an American favorite, and the taste of fresh apple pie can be enjoyed all year long by preserving batches of apple pie filling. Apple pie filling is easy to make and can be stored safely even if you don’t know how to home can.
One popular, alternate method of food preservation is by freezing. Freezing has a lot of advantages over home canning in that this process keeps the natural color, flavor and texture of most foods, which makes for a more attractive product. Freezing also is very simple and doesn’t require much at all in the way of equipment. To make up a batch of homemade apple pie filling, all that’s required is a large kettle and some freezer containers. How easy is that?
Ingredients for apple pie filling
Apple pie filling starts with pie apples. Pie apples are slightly tart, slightly sweet crisp apples that hold their shape when cooked. Apple pie apples include varieties such as Granny Smith, Jonathons, JonaGolds, Criterion, Braeburn, Fuji, and Cox’s Orange Pippin. Softer varieties, such as the McIntosh and Golden Delicious are not good choices for apple pie filling since they turn to mush during baking.
In addition to six pounds of apples, you will also need 2 cups of sugar, 1/4 cup of white flour, 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon each of nutmeg, clove, and cardamon, and two tablespoons of lemon juice.
To make 6 pints of apple pie filling:
1. Wash, peel, remove the core and then slice each apple into eight sections. Place prepared apples in a large bowl that has been filled with cool water and a tablespoon of lemon juice. The water and lemon juice will prevent the apples from turning brown while they are being prepared.
2. In a second large bowl, combine the sugar, flour, and spices. Rinse and drain the apple slices, then gently stir into sugar mixture. Let stand about 30 minutes.
3. Turn apple mixture into large kettle. Stir in lemon juice. Cook over medium heat until the pie filling begins to thicken.
Freezing the apple pie filling
Homemade apple pie filling can be frozen in plastic freezer containers, freezer storage bags, or even mason jars. And, to simplify things, decant into each container exactly the quantity of filling needed for your favorite apple pie recipe. Since I have a deep 9″ pie plate, my recipes call for 3 pints of apple pie filling which I’ll package in a gallon size freezer bag. A standard pie may only call for two pints which will fit neatly in a quart sized freezer bag.
To freeze, decant the desired quantity of filling into a clean, newly washed container, leaving about 1/2-inch of head space. Head space prevents the lid from popping off or the glass breaking as the apple pie filling freezes and expands.
Next, leave the open containers out on the counter to cool to room temperature. Once cooled, the containers should be sealed, labeled and placed directly in the freezer where it can be stored for up to 12 months.
To use, simply thaw and then pour into a prepared pie crust for a quick and easy apple pie that tastes as good as fresh.