Fruit Pie Fillings

The following fruit fillings are excellent and safe products. Each canned quart makes one 8- to 9-inch pie.
Fruit Pie Fillings - Articles

Updated: September 18, 2017

Fruit Pie Fillings

General

The following fruit fillings are excellent and safe products. Each canned quart makes one 8- to 9-inch pie. Fillings may be used as toppings on desserts or pastries. ClearJel(R) is a starch modified to produce excellent sauce consistency even after fillings are canned and baked. Other available household starches break down, causing a runny sauce consistency when used in these pie fillings. ClearJel(R) is available only through a few supply outlets and is not currently available in grocery stores. Find out about its availability prior to gathering other ingredients to make these pie fillings. If you cannot find it, ask your Penn State Extension family living educator about sources for ClearJel(R).*

Because the variety of fruit may alter the flavor of the fruit pie, you should first make a single quart, make a pie with it, and serve. Then adjust the sugar and spices in the recipe to suit your personal preferences. The amount of lemon juice should not be altered because it aids in ensuring the safety and storage stability of the fillings. When using frozen cherries and blueberries, select unsweetened fruit. If sugar has been added, rinse it off while fruit is frozen. Collect, measure, and use juice from thawing fruit to partially replace the water specified in the recipe and use only 1/4 cup of ClearJel(R) per quart, or 13/4 cups for 7 quarts.

Canning Procedure for All Fillings

  1. Wash jars.
  2. Prepare lids according to manufacturer's instructions.
  3. Fill fruit mixtures into jars, leaving 1 inch of headspace.
  4. Remove air bubbles.
  5. Wipe sealing surface of jars with a clean, damp paper towel.
  6. Add lids, tighten screw bands, and process.

To Process in a Boiling Water Canner

  1. Preheat canner half filled with water to 180°F.
  2. Load sealed jars into the canner rack and lower with handles, or load one jar at a time with a jar lifter onto rack in canner.
  3. Add water, if needed, to 1 inch above jars and cover.
  4. When water boils vigorously, lower heat to maintain a gentle boil and process for recommended time.
  5. After processing is complete, remove jars from canner with a jar lifter and place them on a towel or rack.
  6. Do not retighten screw bands.
  7. Air-cool jars for 12 to 24 hours.
  8. Remove screw bands and check lid seals.
  9. A jar is sealed if the center of its lid is indented or concave.
  10. Wash, dry, label, and store sealed jars in a clean, cool, dark place.

If a jar is unsealed, examine and replace it if defective, use a new lid, and reprocess as before. Wash screw bands and store separately.

Fillings are best if used within one year and are safe as long as lids remain vacuum sealed.

Apple Pie Filling

Quality

Use firm, crisp apples. Stayman, Golden Delicious, Rome, and other varieties of similar quality are suitable. If apples lack tartness, use an additional ¼ cup of lemon juice for each 6 quarts of slices.

  • Wash, peel, and core apples
  • Prepare slices ½ inch wide and place in water containing 1 teaspoon of ascorbic acid crystals or six 500-milligram vitamin C tablets in 1 gallon of water to prevent browning.

For fresh fruit

  1. Place 6 cups at a time in 1 gallon of boiling water.
  2. Boil each batch for 1 minute after the water returns to a boil.
  3. Drain but keep heated fruit in a covered bowl or pot.
  4. Combine sugar, ClearJel®, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large kettle with water, apple juice, and food coloring.
  5. Stir and cook on medium-high heat until mixture thickens and begins to bubble.
  6. Add lemon juice and boil sauce for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  7. Fold in drained apple slices, immediately fill jars with mixture, leaving 1 inch of headspace, and process without delay.
Table 1. Apple Pie Filling. Quantities of ingredients needed for:
Ingredient1 quart7 quarts
Granulated sugar¾ cup + 2 Tbsp5½ cups
ClearJel®¼ cup1½ cups
Cinnamon½ tsp1 Tbsp
Cold water½ cup2½ cups
Apple juice, unsweetened¾ cup5 cups
Bottled lemon juice2 Tbsp¾ cup
Nutmeg (optional)⅛ tsp1 tsp
Yellow food coloring (optional)1 drop7 drops

Blueberry Pie Filling

Quality

Select sweet, very ripe but firm, deep-blue fruit.

  • Wash and drain blueberries

For fresh fruit

  1. Place 6 cups at a time in 1 gallon of boiling water.
  2. Boil each batch for 1 minute after the water returns to a boil.
  3. Drain but keep heated fruit in a covered bowl or pot.
  4. Combine sugar and ClearJel® in a large kettle.
  5. Stir.
  6. Add water and, if desired, food coloring.
  7. Cook on medium-high heat until mixture thickens and begins to bubble.
  8. Add lemon juice and boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  9. Fold in undrained berries, fill jars immediately with mixture, leaving 1 inch of headspace, and process without delay.
Table 2. Blueberry Pie Filling. Quantities of ingredients needed for:
Ingredient1 quart7 quarts
Fresh or thawed blueberries3½ cups6 quarts
Granulated sugar¾ cup + 2 Tbsp6 cups
ClearJel®¼ cup + 1 Tbsp2¼ cups
Cold water1 cup7 cups
Bottled lemon juice3½ tsp½ cup
Blue food coloring (optional)3 drops20 drops
Red food coloring (optional)1 drop7 drops

Cherry Pie Filling

Quality

Select very ripe, firm, tart cherries.

  • Rinse and pit cherries and hold them in cold water.
  • To prevent stem end browning, hold pitted cherries in water containing 1 teaspoon of ascorbic acid crystals or six 500-milligram vitamin C tablets in 1 gallon of water.

For fresh fruit

  1. Place 6 cups at a time in 1 gallon of boiling water.
  2. Boil each batch for 1 minute after the water returns to a boil.
  3. Drain but keep heated fruit in a covered bowl or pot.
  4. Combine sugar and ClearJel® in a large saucepan.
  5. Add water and, if desired, cinnamon, food coloring, and almond extract.
  6. Stir mixture and cook over medium-high heat until mixture thickens and begins to bubble.
  7. Add lemon juice and boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  8. Fold in drained cherries, fill jars immediately with mixture, leaving 1 inch of headspace, and process without delay.
Table 3. Cherry pie filling. Quantities of ingredients needed for:
Ingredient1 quart7 quarts
Fresh or thawed sour cherries3½ cups6 quarts
Granulated sugar1 cup7 cups
ClearJel®¼ cup +1 Tbsp1¾ cups
Cold water1⅓ cups9⅓ cups
Bottled lemon juice1 Tbsp + 1 tsp½ cup
Cinnamon (optional)⅛ tsp1 tsp
Almond extract (optional)¼ tsp2 tsp
Red food coloring (optional)6 drops¼ tsp

Peach Pie Filling

Quality

Select ripe but firm peaches. Red Haven, Redskin, Sun High, and other varieties of similar quality are suitable.

Procedure

  1. Peel peaches.
  2. To loosen skins, submerge peaches in boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds and then place them in cold water for 20 seconds.
  3. Slip off skins and prepare slices ½ inch wide.
  4. Place slices in water containing 1 teaspoon of ascorbic acid crystals or six 500-milligram vitamin C tablets in 1 gallon of water to prevent browning.
  5. For fresh fruit, place 6 cups at a time in 1 gallon of boiling water.
  6. Boil each batch for 1 minute after the water returns to a boil.
  7. Drain but keep heated fruit in a covered bowl or pot.
  8. Combine sugar, ClearJel®, water, and cinnamon or almond extract in a large kettle.
  9. Stir and cook on medium-high heat until mixture thickens and begins to bubble.
  10. Add lemon juice and boil sauce for 1 minute more, stirring constantly.
  11. Fold in drained peach slices and continue to heat for 3 minutes, then fill jars with mixture, leaving 1 inch of headspace, and process without delay.
Table 4. Peach Pie Filling
Ingredient1 quart7 quarts
Fresh sliced peaches3½ cups6 quarts
Granulated sugar1 cup7 cups
ClearJel®¼ cup +1 Tbsp2 cups + 3 Tbsp
Cold water¾ cup5¼ cups
Cinnamon (optional)⅛ tsp1 tsp
Almond extract (optional)⅛ tsp2 tsp
Bottled lemon juice¼ cup1¾ cups
Table 5. Recommended process times for fruit pie fillings in a boiling water canner. Process time (in minutes) at altitudes of:
Fruit FillingJar size0-1,000 ft1,001-3,000 ft3,001-6,000 ftAbove 6,000 ft
ApplePints or quarts25303540
BlueberryPints or quarts30354045
CherryPints or quarts30354045
PeachPints or quarts30354045

*About ClearJel*

There are about 3 cups in 1 pound of ClearJel®. Penn State Extension pie filling recipes take about 1½ to 2¼ cups per 6-7 quarts of pie filling. Some bulk food stores or cooperatives may carry ClearJel®; be sure you are getting cook-type ClearJel®.

Sources for ClearJel®

Kitchen Krafts
PO Box 442
Waukon, IA 52172
Phone: 1-800-776-0575

Kauffman's Fruit Farm
3097 Old Philadelphia Pike
Bird-in-Hand, PA 17505
Phone: 717-768-7112

Prepared by Luke LaBorde, associate professor of food science; Nancy Wiker, senior extension educator; and Martha Zepp, extension project assistant

Instructors

Tracking Listeria monocytogenes in produce production, packing, and processing environments Food safety validation of mushroom growing, packing, and processing procedures Farm food safety, Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) training Hazards Analysis and Risk Based Preventive Controls (HACCP) training Technical assistance to home and commercial food processors Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)

More by Luke LaBorde, Ph.D.