Blast from the Past: Canned Apple Pie Filling with Ultra Gel or Thick Gel

Hi folks…

The last few weeks have been crazy busy.  It’s amazing just how much work a 6 month old is.  They don’t tell you these things when they give you the child rearing manual…which I haven’t received, so I’m just wining it anyway.  However, it’s almost September here and my apple trees are looking at me with love and so I got thinking about pies.  This brought me to one of my favorite pie fillings, which is apple.  I’ve posted my apple pie filling, with gluten free thickeners Ultra Gel and Thick Gel, before, so here’s a blast from the blogging past.

Let’s play it again, Sam!


I am a big fan of pies, particularly in the fall.  I generally make 18-25 pies for Thanksgiving and they just accompany me from event to event until all the pie tins are empty.  Part of preparing for this pie ritual is canning pie filling when apples are at their peak.  Often canning apple pie filling is a struggle because the heat required for thickening turns the apple chunks into apple mush.  To deal with this many apple pie filling recipes are based on just tossing raw apples in spices and cornstarch and baking, often this leaks through the crust or bubbles into a mess, or just accepting chunky bits.  Using Ultra Gel allows the juice base to be made separate then combined with the apples so the slices are maintained.  As well the use of Ultra Gel means less mess in the oven and less bubble over.  As you can tell…I’m a fan.

Prep starts with great local apples:

These are golden delicious apples.  I like using a combination of golden delicious and Granny Smith apples.  This makes for a great flavor combination and both of these apples are hearty and resistant to breaking down into the afore mentioned mush.

Wash, peel and core the apples.  This can all be done with a potato peeler and a knife, but I prefer my apple peeler corer slicer machine.  This one is cool because it just suction cups to the top of the counter and away you go.

The machine leaves the apples in a long slice, so which should be cut in half for slices.  In a separate pot heat apple juice, lemon juice, sugar and spices and thicken it with Ultra Gel.  The apples go into a microwave safe bowl covered with cling wrap and into the microwave until the apples are soft but not mush.  Combine the juice and apples.

Scoop into hot clean quart bottles and top with hot flats and rings.  Into a hot water bath for 45 minutes (at my altitude) and we’re in business.

From here it’s easy to use the filling in cobblers, piece or any other application calling for apple pie filling.  I’ll admit that warm with a scoop of ice cream is a simple dessert and oh so good!

Jana Brown

Apple Pie Filling with Ultra Gel from the Ultra Gel Answer Book

For one quart:

3 1/2 cups blanched fresh apples, sliced 1/4″ thick

3/4 c + 2 T sugar

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/8 t nutmeg (opt)

1/2 cup cold water

3/4 cup apple juice

2 T bottled lemon juice

7 T Ultra Gel (4 T Thick Gel)

Peel, core and slice apples.  Blanch no more than 2 quarts at a time and keep warm.

Combine sugar, spices, water, apple juice and lemon juice in large kettle.  Add Ultra Gel gradually, stirring in with a wire whisk until smooth.  Put over medium heat and cook until thick and bubbly.  Fold in drained apple slices.  fill jars, leaving 1/2″ headspace.  Adjust lids and process immediately in water bath canner for 35 minutes (sea level). Add five minutes processing time for elevations of 1,000 to 3,000 feet and ten minutes for elevations from 3,000 to 5,000 feet.

Nutrition: 147 calories, 0 g total fat


6 thoughts on “Blast from the Past: Canned Apple Pie Filling with Ultra Gel or Thick Gel

  1. 1/2″ was soooo not enough headspace – every single one of my ten jars boiled over and siphoned sticky goo all over the place! Due to puny 12qt canning pot (darned glass-top stoves) and sheer practicality as a single person, I can all “quart-size” recipes as pints – a 2-quart batch makes 5 pints, which fills my BWB pot, and I made 2 5-jar batches back to back. (By the way, it tastes pretty awesome with 1/2 tsp of Chinese Five Spice Powder or English “mixed spice” in place of the 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1/8 tsp nutmeg. Otherwise I followed the recipe to the letter.) For the second batch I increased the headspace to 3/4″, splitting the difference between your recipe and the NHCFP’s which recommends 1″, and still got some siphoning. I always “rest” pint jars in the water off the heat for 10 minutes (5 for half-pints and minis) after the BWB time is done, no matter what’s in them, as recommended by the university’s extension office. I think next batch I’ll go to a full inch of headspace, I still have a LOT of apples left!

    • ACK. I’m so sorry there were problems with the headspace. I’ll have my mum, our resident food scientist, take a look at your comment and see if she can help figure out why that happened. I’ve rarely had any overflow when I’ve done mine, but that’s all in quarts and the pints may need the bigger headspace. I am really glad you’re happy with the flavor and I love the idea of adding Five Spice. I hadn’t thought of that before, but it’d be awesome!

      • When I consulted the extension office earlier this summer about canning in smaller jars, I was told to always use the same headspace as the original recipe called for, because the required headspace was dictated by the food. That is, after the obligatory thou-shalt-not-deviate-in-any-way-from-the-recipe lecture! 🙂 I actually don’t often make pie itself, although when I do it’s a 6″ since it’s just me, but pie fillings are a tasty, healthy – if there’s not too much sugar – and easy stir-in for yogurt or oatmeal, and I keep a bag of fruit-crisp topping in the freezer so I can make a single serving of fruit crisp in just a few minutes. (I heat a broiler-safe ramekin of pie filling in the microwave, sprinkle on the topping, and run it under the broiler until browned.) For whatever it’s worth, I haven’t seen another apple-pie-filling recipe that called for less than the NHCFP-standard 1″ headspace. I’m suddenly up to my eyeballs in unexpected and very-perishable pears so I haven’t been able to try that third batch of apple pie filling with the 1″ headspace.

        I found the Five Spice + Apples notion on the Northwest Edibles blog (, which has a fantastically useful chart of fruits and compatible flavors (look for the “Signature Jam Flavor Maker Chart”) which has been one of the best tools I’ve had for this year’s preserving. For example, I never would have thought of putting rosewater in blackberry jam but it tastes wonderful!

        (By the way, Ultra Gel did a great job of saving a batch of applesauce that was very watery – a poor batch of Macs – and starting to taste more like apple butter from cooking too long, and I already had plenty of apple butter! I think I used about 3 Tbsp in 3 1/2 pints… I just pulled it off the heat, stirred some Ultra Gel in, waited the recommended 10 minutes, stirred a little more in, etc. until I got the consistency I wanted.)

  2. Pingback: Apple Pie |

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s