Category Archives: Canning/Freezing

Sour Cherry Pie and Canning Cherry Pie Filling

Sour Cherry Pie

Happy Canada Day!

Today’s recipe is a classic sour cherry pie filling that makes wonderful pie, or a delicious topping for vanilla ice cream or yogurt.

When we were in Pittsburgh, there was an awesome farm close by that sold buckets of pre-pitted sour cherries for a couple of weeks every summer. I am not a fan of pitting cherries, so I LOVED this! These cherries were perfect for making lots of jars of canned cherry pie filling that could be used throughout the year.

We have now moved and are too far to get these cherries anymore. As I’m still not a fan of pitting my own cherries, I rarely make multiple jars of canned cherry pie filling anymore. Okay, never. But I did scale down the recipe to make a single cherry pie (from either fresh or canned sour cherries).

For those who LOVE pitting cherries, or have access to places that will pit them for you, I have also included the large batch canning recipe.

And for those looking for a visual on making a lattice pie crust, here are a few photos:

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To avoid burned edges when baking your pie, use a pie crust shield after the first 10 minutes of baking. If you don’t have a commercial pie crust shield, it is easy to make your own. See the easy tutorial in the following link. This method does NOT use foil strips! That just leads to frustration and burnt fingers.

Make-Your-Own Pie Crust Shield



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Freezing Fresh Peaches (Without Peeling!)

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It is peach season here in northern Maryland. I have visited two orchards in the past week and I am making my way through a bushel of fresh-picked peaches. Some have made their way into jams, peach butter, frozen peach yogurt, and lots of fresh peach juice running down chins.

Even after all of this canning, I still have more peaches than we can eat our way through before they go bad. So the remaining peaches are going into the freezer to be pulled out all winter when we need a little reminder of summer.

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This is a super simple method for freezing peaches: no blanching, no peeling, no slicing. And I like them so much better than canned peaches.

All you need are two ingredients: fresh peaches and Fruit Fresh (a fruit preservative, mostly consisting of ascorbic acid).

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To prepare peaches for freezing: wash peaches, cut in half and remove pit, place cut side up on a foil-lined tray, sprinkle with Fruit Fresh, turn cut side down, and place in freezer. When peach halves are solid, place in Ziploc bags and return to the freezer.

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The kids’ favorite thing about these frozen peaches comes when you are ready to eat one. You can remove as few or as many peach halves as you want from the freezer. Place the peach half on a plate or in a bowl and microwave for about 20 seconds, or until no longer solid (You can also leave them in the fridge or at room temperature until thawed). To remove the peel, simply pinch the center of the peel and lift- the peel slides off in one perfect piece! So much easier than trying to peel the peaches before freezing!

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I enlisted a much cuter hand model to help with this demonstration.
Thanks Julia!

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Freezing Fresh Peaches


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Fresh ripe peaches
Fruit Fresh (fruit preservative)


  1. Wash peaches and cut in half.
  2. Remove pit, but do not peel peaches.
  3. Place peach halves cut side up on a foil-lined tray.
  4. Sprinkle cut side with Fruit Fresh.
  5. Turn peaches cut side down, and place tray in freezer.
  6. After peaches have frozen solid, place them in a Ziploc bag and return to freezer.
  7. When ready to use, microwave peaches for about 20 seconds and the skin will easily slide off.

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Mango Jalapeño Jam

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Slightly sweet, slightly spicy. Perfectly versatile.

Serve it with savory scones, like these Bacon Jalapeño Scones:

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Use it instead of apricot jam in this Apricot (Mango) Glazed Chicken:

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Serve it with these Indian Samosas:

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Heat the jam until warm and dip Chicken Taquitos in it:

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-Bake it with Brie wrapped in puff pastry dough for a delicious appetizer. Or cut pastry dough into squares and press dough into a well-greased mini muffin pan; place a square of Brie in the center and top with ½ tsp jam. Bake until browned.

-Spread it over a block of cream cheese or goat cheese and serve with crackers.

-Spread it between tortillas, along with grilled chicken and cheese, and grill for amazing quesadillas.

-Spread it on an English muffin and top with egg, cheese, and bacon for a breakfast sandwich with a kick.

-Add it to a grilled cheese sandwich.

-Spread it on a sandwich of leftover roast turkey or chicken.

-Add it to a marinade for roast pork or grilled chicken.


Mango Jalapeño Jam

Yield: About 7 half-pint jars

Mango Jalapeno Jam 1

3 lb peeled and seeded mangos (weigh after peeling/seeding), about 6 cups
6-7 oz (about 6-7 whole) jalapeños
¾ cup apple cider vinegar
4 ¼ cups sugar, divided
1 box low-sugar pectin

Chop mangos in a food processor until finely chopped, but not pureed. You should end up with about 5 cups finely chopped mango. Pour into a large pot.

Use the food processor to finely chop the jalapeños. Leave the seeds/ribs in the jalapeños for a more spicy jam; remove them for a milder jam. Add to the pot along with the vinegar, and 4 cups of sugar.

Bring to a full rolling boil, reduce heat to medium, and boil for 20 minutes.

In a small bowl, stir together the pectin and ¼ cup sugar. Add pectin mixture to the pot and return mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil for 2 additional minutes.

Remove from heat and ladle into sterilized jars. Wipe rims of jars with a damp cloth and add lids and rings. Process jars in a boiling bath canner for 10 minutes for half-pint jars. Remove from canner and place on a towel on kitchen countertop. Let sit 24 hours. Check seals before storing on pantry shelf.

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Filed under Appetizers, Breads, Canning/Freezing, Condiments/Sauces

Low Sugar Cinnamon Vanilla Pear Jam

Cinnamon Vanilla Pear Jam

Canning is generally a summer sport. Summer harvests mean you usually have to spend the hottest days of the year blanching fruit, stirring boiling pots, and having steam from a boiling water bath canner fill the kitchen with heat and humidity.

Do you ever wish that you could do your canning in the middle of the winter, when a little extra heat and humidity would be most welcome? I can’t get rid of all of that summer canning, but here is one recipe that is perfect to make on a cold, snowy day. And it will make your house smell truly heavenly.

Pears make a wonderful jam and are an easy fruit to work with any time of year. Most varieties have thin skins, so you don’t need to peel them, and you can chop them quickly in a food processor.  This jam is also flavored with cinnamon and vanilla, which makes it easy and amazingly delicious!

I use a combination of sugar and stevia to make a lower sugar jam that doesn’t compromise on flavor. You could add additional sugar if you don’t want to use the stevia.

And it’s not just for toast: try stirring it into some plain yogurt or spreading on some homemade pancakes for a delicious breakfast or snack.


Cinnamon Vanilla Pear Jam (Low-Sugar)

Yield: 6 half-pint jars

Cinnamon Vanilla Pear Jam

8-10 ripe medium-sized pears (about 4 lb)
1 Tbs lemon juice
2 ¼ cups sugar, divided
1 box low-sugar pectin
½ tsp liquid stevia
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 vanilla beans, split and scraped; or 2 tsp vanilla extract

Prepare equipment: sterilize half-pint jars, lids, and canning equipment (ladle and funnel). Prepare a boiling water bath.

Wash and core the pears, but do not peel. Finely chop or coarsely mash to yield 7 cups fruit. (I use a food processor to finely chop/mash the pears). Stir in lemon juice.

In a small bowl, combine ¼ cup of the sugar with the box of pectin. Mix well and set aside.

In a large pot, combine the chopped pears, remaining 2 cups sugar, stevia, cinnamon and vanilla beans (both seeds and pods), if using. Bring to a full rolling boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium (maintain a low but continuous boil), and boil for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in sugar/pectin mixture and vanilla extract, if using. Return jam to a full boil and boil for an additional 5 minutes. Remove vanilla bean pods and discard.

Remove jam from heat and let sit for 3-4 minutes. Stir jam. Ladle hot jam into prepared jars. Wipe top edges of jars with a damp cloth. Add lids and rings. Place in a boiling bath canner and when pot has returned to a full boil, process jars for 10 minutes. Remove jars from canner and place on a towel on kitchen counter. Let sit for 24 hours. Check seals before placing on pantry shelf.


  • Use thin-skinned pears like Bartlett, d’Anjou, or Comice
  • Stevia brands can vary in sweetness. Taste jam before adding pectin and adjust sugar to taste.
  • Use either the vanilla beans or the vanilla extract, not both
  • Letting the jam sit for a few minutes before ladling into jars helps to reduce foam and keep the fruit chunks from settling to the bottom of the jars.

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Canning Apple Pie Filling

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As part of a church young women’s project this fall, I have been teaching MiddleK how to can. We started with Applesauce, then promptly proceeded to eat almost all of it over that next week, which kind of defeated the “storage” role of canning. But it had been a long time since we’d had homemade applesauce around here, and I was glad to see the kids asking for that for a snack instead of chips or candy. So we bought A LOT more apples, and made LOTS more applesauce. With all of our apples we also made this Apple Pie Filling.

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Middle K also wanted to learn to make her own piecrust for her pie filling, and while the family waited for her to finally make a pie, we ate the pie filling stirred into yogurt, as an ice cream topping, or when no one was looking: straight from the jar.

Yesterday, Middle K, under extreme pressure from her siblings, found the time to create this beautiful apple pie. She made the crust all on her own, and she did a fabulous job!

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This canned apple pie filling is chock full of apples in a cinnamon brown sugar syrup. When choosing apples for pie, you want to choose a variety that does not get mushy when cooked, and is not overly tart, or you will need to add a lot more sugar to the syrup. We really like eating Granny Smith apples around here, but I don’t usually use them for pies, unless it is in combination with some sweeter varieties. I also like to use a combination of apple varieties, when possible. Then the different textures of the apples makes a nice balance in the pie. For this pie filling we used a combination of Golden Delicious and Fuji apples.

Good Apples for Canning:
Golden Delicious
Gala (but only in combination with another variety: they get kind of soft when cooked)

Not-So-Good Apples for Canning:
Red Delicious
Gala (on their own)
Granny Smith (too tart on their own; texture is good, but they will require more sugar; good when combined with sweeter varieties)

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When making the apple pie filling, you can thinly slice or dice the apples. I like to dice them because they fit better in the jars and are a nice size for biting in a pie. The chopped apples are mixed with apple cider, sugar and spices, and left to macerate for an hour or more before cooking. This helps release some of the juice from the apples and helps meld the flavors. We kept the spices simple in our batches this year: just cinnamon and a little bit of nutmeg. For a more heavily spiced pie filling, you can add cloves, ginger and/or allspice.

The one special ingredient that you need for making canned pie fillings is Clear Jel. Clear Jel is a modified corn starch made specifically for canning. It is a thickener that will not loose it’s texture or become grainy after being cooked more than once (first while preparing the filling and processing the jars and then again when you cook the pie). I buy mine from a company called Walton Feed. I like that I can get sealed cans. Clear Jel is also available in bags from Amazon.

One problem that we did run into on a couple of our jars was “siphoning”. This is when some liquid from inside the jars seeps out while processing, or immediately after being removed from the canner. The filling is still safe to eat as long as the lid seals, but it does make for kind of a sticky mess and an increased likelihood that the jars won’t seal properly. We left 1” headspace on the jars before processing, but next time I will leave 1 ¼”. After doing some reading, another way to reduce siphoning is to leave the jars in the boiling water bath (with the heat turned off and the lid removed) for about 10 minutes after fully processing them. I will try this next time around. Supposedly, the drastic temperature change from the boiling water to the outside air can often cause siphoning. Pie filling is the only thing I have ever had this problem with. Luckily, all of our jars sealed, but I did mark the ones that had the siphoning problem so that we could eat those jars first.

When making a pie from canned filling, you simply prepare your bottom crust, pour in the filling, add a top crust or streusel topping and bake (for about 45 minutes at 400°F). A regular 8”or 9” pie plate will use one quart jar. For deep dish pie plates (which I have), I use one quart jar and one pint jar. So I can both quart and pint sized jars. You could also just use 1 ½ quart jars and use the other half jar as ice cream topping.


Apple Pie Filling (for canning)

  • Servings: Makes about 3 ½ quarts
  • Print

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6 lb apples** (about 16-18 apples, or 12 cups sliced/diced apples)
3 cups apple cider
1 cup dark brown sugar (or light brown sugar plus 1 tsp molasses)
½ cup sugar
½ cup lemon juice
2 tsp vanilla extract (or one vanilla bean, scraped)
½ tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
scant ½ tsp ground nutmeg
(OPTIONAL: 1/8 tsp each: cloves, ginger & allspice)
1 cup apple cider
1/3 cup Clear Jel

In a very large bowl, mix together 3 cups apple cider, sugars, lemon juice, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and optional spices (if using).

Peel, core and coarsely chop or slice apples. Place apples in cider mixture as you cut them. Allow apples to sit at room temperature for at least 1-3 hours, stirring occasionally.

Strain juice from apple slices into a large pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.

In a small bowl, mix additional 1 cup of apple cider with the Clear Jel; stir into the cider mixture simmering in the pot. Return to a boil and cook until the juice has thickened, about 1 – 2 minutes. Stir in apple pieces with any remaining juice in the bowl. Return mixture to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Ladle hot pie filling into hot jars, leaving 1 ¼” headspace. Use a spatula or knife to remove air bubbles. Make sure that your apples are covered by the syrup. Wipe rims with a clean, damp cloth, place lid and ring on the jars, and process in a boiling water bath for 25 minutes for quart or pint jars. After processing, turn off heat and remove the lid from the canner, but allow the jars to sit in the water for 10 minutes before removing. This will help reduce siphoning (liquid seeping out of the jars). Remove jars from water and place on a clean, dry towel on the kitchen counter. Let sit for 24 hours. Check seal, remove rings and store.

**For best results use a mix of Golden Delicious, Fuji, McIntosh, Jonagold, Rome, Jonathon, Cameo or Gala.

Yield: about 3 ½ quarts

Recipe adapted from LocalKitchen


Canned pie filling can be used to make apple pies, tarts, or apple crisp. Or spoon it onto ice cream or yogurt.

To make a regular 8-9” pie: use one quart of pie filling

To make a deep dish 9” pie: use one quart + 1 pint of pie filling (I can both quart and pint jars to make this easy. Or just use 1 1/2 quart jars and eat the other half quart as ice cream topping)

BAKING: Bake pies at 400°F for 30 minutes. Check browning on top crust. Add a Pie Crust Shield (you can make your own!) or foil to edges as they begin to brown. Cook for an additional 15-20 minutes, or until filling is bubbly and crust is cooked (check often to prevent over-browning of top crust)

I like to use this All Butter Pie Crust.


Filed under Canning/Freezing, Desserts

Low-Sugar Seedless Raspberry Nectarine Jam

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One of the kids’ favorite jams from last year was this Raspberry Nectarine Freezer Jam. This year I played with the recipe a little, to reduce the sugar and to make it a regular canned jam (freezer space is precious!).
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Nectarines and raspberries are a great combination! Be sure to leave the nectarine peels on when cutting the nectarines. They help give the rich color to the jam. They will be strained out later with the raspberry seeds. Pressing pulp through a sieve to remove seeds is not my favorite thing to do. It is a lot of work, and it seems like such a waste to not use all of that good stuff. I don’t mind having raspberry seeds in things, so I save the seeds (and pulp that clings to them) in the fridge and add them to smoothies, or stir some into my oatmeal in the mornings. A little extra fiber is never a bad thing, right?!


Low-Sugar Seedless Raspberry Nectarine Jam

  • Servings: Makes about 5 half-pint jars
  • Print

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3 cups chopped nectarines (do not peel), about 4-5 nectarines
3 cups slightly crushed raspberries
1 Tbs lemon juice
1 ¼ cups sugar, divided
1 box no-sugar needed pectin
½ tsp powdered Stevia (or ¾ – 1 tsp liquid Stevia)**

Combine nectarines and raspberries in a blender or food processor. Process until smooth. Press through a fine sieve to remove seeds; discard seeds. Place fruit puree in a large saucepan with the lemon juice.

In a small bowl, mix ¼ cup sugar with pectin. Stir into fruit puree in the large saucepan. Bring to a hard boil (boiling doesn’t stop when stirred) over high heat. Stir in 1 C sugar and stevia. Return to hard boil; boil 1 minute. Remove from heat. Skim foam. Ladle into jars, leaving 1/8” headspace. Wipe rims of jars. Place lids on jars.

Place in a boiling bath canner or steam canner. Return water to a gentle boil. Process 10 minutes. Cool on a towel on kitchen counter for 24 hours. Check seal.

**My favorite is 1 tsp of Sweet Leaf brand Vanilla Crème liquid stevia

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