Apple Pie Filling: Canning and freezing recipes along with thickener information


Fall brings out the nesting instinct in me… the instinct to cook and clean. Once my fall harvest and preserving has slowed down to a dull roar, I’ll go into the fall cleaning swing… that will bring some new posts on how-to organize your time and home. But that’s for another day…

Today I’ll share some canning recipes I thought you’d all enjoy!  It’s apple season and besides apple sauce, what else can you do with apples. Pie of course!

apple pie photo: apple pie apple_pie.jpg

Before we get into the recipes, I thought I’d touch on a question I often get asked, “What’s the difference between cornstarch, Perma-flo and Clear-jel?”

The following information that is italicized was taken and slightly adapted from:
This site had an awesome chart on thickener substitutions.  A must read!  It has types of thickeners that I’ve never heard of. This would be really good info for someone looking for alternative thickeners with particular food allergies

Perma-flo and Clear-jel are pretty much the same. Cornstarch I learned the hard way you can’t cook your stuff to the consistency you want. It will get thicker the longer it sets. Where the other two you cook to the consistency that you want. Personally I like the perma flo best.

Some people have complained that Clear-jel leaves an after taste. Clear-jel and cornstarch can be inter-changed equally.

Pema-flo can be used to thicken fruit and then frozen.  

Cornstarch is used to thicken sauces, gravies, and puddings. Like other starch thickeners, cornstarch should be mixed into a slurry with an equal amount of cold water before it’s added to the hot liquid you’re trying to thicken. You then need to simmer the liquid, stirring constantly, for a minute or so until it thickens. Cornstarch doesn’t stand up to freezing or prolonged cooking, and it doesn’t thicken well when mixed with acidic liquids. 

Clear-jel is modified cornstarch and is the secret ingredient that many commercial bakers use in their fruit pie fillings. Unlike ordinary cornstarch, ClearJel® works well with acidic ingredients, tolerates high temperatures, and doesn’t cause pie fillings to “weep” during storage. ClearJel® is an especially good choice if you’re canning homemade pie fillings, since it doesn’t begin thickening until the liquid begins to cool. This allows the heat to be more evenly distributed within the jar during processing. This is such an important safety advantage that ClearJel® is the only thickener the USDA recommends for home canning. You can also use ClearJel® to thicken sauces, stews, and the like, though it’s a rather expensive all-purpose thickener. One downside is that products thickened with ClearJel® tend to break down if they’re frozen and thawed. If you plan to freeze what you’re making, use Instant ClearJel®.  ClearJel® is available either as pearls or powder from mail-order suppliers, but it’s not yet available in grocery stores. Don’t use this if you’re canning a pie filling.

Instant Clear-jel is a modified cornstarch that professional bakers sometimes use to thicken pie fillings. It has several advantages over ordinary cornstarch. Instant ClearJel® thickens without cooking, works well with acidic ingredients, tolerates high temperatures, is freezer-stable, and doesn’t cause pie fillings to “weep” during storage. Don’t use Instant ClearJel® for canning–it tends to break down.

Each product works differently and is better suited to particular recipes depending on if it is cooked or not. Be sure to check the recipe and understand the differences before you interchange them. I use Perma-flo in my canned pie filling because of the after taste I feel Clear-jel leaves.

apple pie photo: Apple Pie apple-pie.jpg

Here’s my recipe for canned pie filling along with a BONUS recipe from my cookbook, Lovingly Seasoned Eats & Treats.

Canned Pie Filling

2 c Perma-flo
2 c cold water
7 c sugar
6 c water
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
24 c peeled, cored and sliced apples
*6 drops red food coloring, optional

1. In a separate bowl combine the Perma-flo and 2c water; stir until dissolved

2. In a large kettle combine the 6c water, sugar, salt and food coloring; bring to a rolling boil.

DPP_00023. Stir the Perma-flo- water mixture again; then very slowly begin pouring the mixture into the boiling liquid, like adding eggs to a pudding, stirring constantly. Once it thickens to a goop, remove from heat, add cinnamon and apples.  Stir until thoroughly mixed.

4. Fill quart jars, leaving an inch head space; wipe the rims of the jar; put lid and rings on tightly.

5. Water bath process 30 minutes or pressure can at 5#’s pressure for 5 minutes.  Place the jars on a towel on counter and leave for 48 hours to ensure proper seal.

Freezer Apple Pie Filling
This recipe can be found in my cookbook, Lovingly Seasoned Eats & Treats on page 427 in the canning section.


6 c water
1 c Instant Clear-jel
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
5 c sugar
1 stick butter
16 c of peeled, cored and sliced apples

1. Combine sugar, Instant Clear-gel, lemon juice with 1 c cold water in a large kettle; stir until thoroughly mixed

2. Add remaining 5 cups water and 1 stick of butter. Cook on low heat until thick; cool.

3. Mix in apples, place in freezer containers and freeze.


*TIP: I use wide mouth quart jars for pie filling if possible because it is much easier to get out when you’re ready to use it.

Stay tuned tomorrow for a couple of recipes on what to make with your apple pie filling!


Happy Day,

Here’s are a couple links where you can purchase Perma-flo from if you don’t have a local source.–perma-flo-starch.html

Here’s a link to purchase Instant Clear-jel

14 thoughts on “Apple Pie Filling: Canning and freezing recipes along with thickener information

  1. Do the clear jel and perma flo swap out evenly? Assuming I wanted to make your canned apple pie recipe with clear jel, could I follow all your directions and the recipe would work out?


    • Hi Elie… yes you can swap evenly.
      But Clearjel doesn’t hold up as nice as the Perma-flo. I started years ago with the CJ then switched for both the taste and break down reasons.
      good luck,
      PS… you can see a photo album of the pie filling process at my FB page… click link on the side if you’re interested!


  2. I’ll be trying the “Freezer Apple Pie Filling” because I have a counter full of delicious Pink Lady apples that we picked up on my birthday trip to North GA and because I have some Instant Clear-Jel in my pantry. Thanks for the recipe.


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