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How to Can Apple Pie Filling

Apples hanging from a tree branch ready to be picked

Move over pumpkin spiced lattes! Fall is for apples! Start creating homemade apple desserts to can, store, and enjoy later for a cost-effective, sweet-treat that the whole family will love!

Everyone knows there isn't anything better than a homemade apple pie topped with melting ice cream... except for an apple pie that you can make in half the time! Whether you have homegrown apples or you stock up when they're at their lowest price, canning is a great option to preserve and store this tasty fruit. So grab a friend and make your next fall preparation in the kitchen, making use of the abundance of apples that the fall season brings.

What are the best apples for baking pie?

Green apple slices on wooden tabletop

Best Apples for Fresh Eating

Golden Delicious, Fuji, Gala, and Honey Crisp
Freshly baked pie

Best Apples for Baking Pies

Jazz, Honey Crisp, Jonagold, and Cortland
Canned apples for applesauce

Best Apples for Sauce

Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Jonathan, Gala, Cortland, and McIntosh

When is the best time to pick apples?

Woman in an apple orchard picking apples to put in her basket while smiling

1. Climate Affects Apple Harvest

Warmer climates help fruit ripen faster, as well as the more sun your fruit trees get the sooner they will ripen. South-facing fruits tend to get more sunlight and will ripen a little faster than others.

In cooler climates, harvest time is generally September through October.In warmer climates, harvest time could be anywhere from late summer through early spring.

2. Check for Softness

Apples should start to feel slightly softer as they ripen. You don’t want them to get too soft or become mushy, but just slightly softer. Another sign of ripeness is a waxy outer coating.

3. Are other apples falling off the tree?

Green apples falling off of the tree branch and on to the ground

If you’re close to harvest time and an abundance of apples start to fall your apples are most likely ready to be picked. Keep in mind that unhealthy apples can fall at any time, so this is not a one-size-fits-all approach to apple ripeness. This is just one of the many signs to watch for.

4. What color are the seeds?

An apple on a wooden tabletop with a half cut open apple beside it

If you pick an apple and cut it open, the seeds of a ripe apple will be brown. White seeds indicate the apple is immature and not ready to be picked.

5. Can You Pick it Easily?

Pull upward on the apple and twist. If it easily comes off of the tree, it is most likely ripe. Apples that are ready to be picked should pull of easily with very little resistance.

6. Do a Taste Test

If all else fails, simply pick an apple and taste it. Some varieties are naturally sweet or tart, so be sure you know what type of apples you have.

How to Can Apple Pie Filling


In a large pan, mix sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add salt and water and mix well. Bring to a boil and cook until thick and bubbly. Remove from heat and add lemon juice and food coloring.Sterilize canning jars, lids and rings by boiling them in a large pot of water.Peel, core, and slice apples. Pack the sliced apples into hot canning jars, leaving a 1/2 inch headspace.Fill jars with hot syrup, and gently remove air bubbles with a knife.Put lids on and process in a water bath canner for 20 minutes.

Recipe from

With a few simple ingredients, some canning equipment, and a bushel of apples, you'll be ready to create whatever apple dessert your family loves. The best part? You're doing all the work upfront, so you can make homemade desserts all year long with very little effort. Give your family all the flavor they expect without spending all day in the kitchen!