Written by Megan of Stetted.
Now that we’ve covered a few of the basics of canning, I wanted to move on to one of my favorite things to can in the summertime: pie filling.
I adore pie, but my family doesn’t need pie weekly. All too frequently my pie cravings hit in the dead of winter, when it’s hard to get good, fresh ingredients for pie. Those cans of filling from the grocery store just don’t cut it for me, so I’ve taken to making my own pie fillings from fresh peaches and apples when they come in season.
This year I decided to expand my pie filling stash to include cherries, thanks to a stock-up sale our local store had recently. Pie filling is quite easy to put up and requires only a few ingredients.
As in jam, the fruit is cooked slightly before packing into jars. Blanching the fruit helps soften it and allows you to pack more into the jar. The trick is to get as much fruit as possible into the jar – too much liquid and not enough fruit will result in a soggy pie when you pop the seal months down the road. Cherries pack into jars fairly easily, but you can use a wooden spoon handle to press the fruit down and remove any trapped air bubbles.
Like many other canning recipes, this calls for lemon juice. Bottled lemon juice is recommended rather than fresh juice; pH levels are very important in canning and bottled juice has more consistent pH.
Photo by Megan
Recipe: Spiced Cherry Pie Filling
Makes 1 quart, enough for a standard 9-inch pie
- 4 cups cherries
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3 Tablespoons Clear Jel or cornstarch*
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon allspice
- 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
Fill your water-bath canner with water and set to boiling. Make sure your jars are sanitized and heated.
Wash and pit the cherries. In a large nonreactive pot filled with boiling water, blanch the cherries for a minute, then drain. Pour the hot cherries into a bowl and cover.
In the same pot, mix together sugar and Clear Jel. Slowly add the water, whisking to help Clear Jel dissolve evenly. Don’t worry too much if it clumps up – it should dissolve as it heats up. Add the spices and heat over medium-high, until sugar and Clear Jel are dissolved and mixture is starting to bubble. Add the lemon juice and boil for about a minute.
Remove from heat and gently stir in cherries and any accumulated juices. Pour filling into prepared jar(s), wipe rim and set lid on top. Screw ring on finger-tight, and using a jar grabber carefully lower the jar into the water bath.
Process for 30 to 40 minutes. Remove and let rest on the counter until completely cooled. Any jars that have not sealed should be refrigerated and used promptly.
* Note that the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends Clear Jel for pie fillings. Clear Jel is a modified cornstarch that reduces spoilage in canned products and is available online. Many people are comfortable with going outside the USDA guidelines, which is why I included the alternative of regular cornstarch.
What are you canning in anticipation of spontaneous cravings this winter?