Ok, I know all you guys go crazy apple picking, as I do, come September and October. It's hard not to pluck those ripe, juicy, gorgeously green and red apples from their branches.
And when you have kids with you, forget about it..! You inevitably come home with many more apples than you can imagine what to do with!
So what's there to do when you have baskets upon baskets of apples and have already made apple pie, apple bread, applesauce, and apple-just about everything else? You make apple pie filling, of course, and store it until the next time you have a hankering for apple pie, which may incidentally be at a time when freshly picked apples are not readily available.
This basic recipe will keep all those apples you picked safely tucked away in your pantry for up to a year, if canned appropriately. These jars of homemade apple pie filling make wonderful, homey gifts for the holidays or any time of year. They're also a great addition to your summer picnic table. The key in this recipe is to cook the apples only slightly so that when you go to bake them, they will cook out completely without becoming mush.
Another key is to use an assortment of apples, which works well when you apple pick like we do - my kids and I throw all the apples in together and by the time we come home, can't tell a Jonathan from a Golden Delicious... :-)
Making this apple pie filling doesn't take long. The most wearisome part is actually peeling and slicing all your apples, which, let's face it, is cake (pun intended). The thickener I have used here is tapioca starch. Tapioca is a thickening agent and usually comes in the form of small, medium, or large pearls that need to be soaked to be edible. Tapioca starch is the ground-up, refined version and is an excellent substitute for cornstarch and other thickeners. Tapioca also happens to be gluten-free.
This recipe is a staple if you love apple pie or need a place for your surplus of apples. Try it and you'll love it!
Apple Pie Filling
(adapted from allrecipes.com)
Yield: Makes a little more than 2 quarts of filling
13 c peeled, cored, & thinly sliced apples (use an assortment of types)
2 c granulated sugar
4 T tapioca starch
1 t ground cinnamon
2 t lemon juice
In a very large saucepan, mix the apples and sugar and turn the heat on medium-low. Start mixing until the juices begin to run from the apples and there is some liquid at the bottom of the pan. This will take about a minute or two. Keep stirring until all the sugar dissolves. This will take another few minute. Turn the heat to medium high and add the starch, cinnamon, and lemon juice and continue to mix until the liquid starts to thicken. Take the apples off the stove and spoon them into the prepped jars, filling them to within a 1/4" from the very top, taking care to leave no air bubbles. You can rid your cans of air bubbles easily by taking a narrow spatula or butter knife and running along the inner edge of the jar until no air bubbles remain. Make sure you pack the apples in really tightly.
Place the lid on top and screw tightly. Continue the canning process. Once complete and cooled, you will have apple pie filling for any day of the year... no matter the season! The filling will keep, properly sealed, for up to a year in your pantry. Just pop open the lid, fill a pie crust with a quart of filling, top it with an additional crust and bake as you normally would an apple pie. If you are using storebought crust, the directions will be on the box.