When we bought this house, we were so excited to inherit a huge apple tree, but it had been so neglected that the apples were tiny and bug-ridden. The past 2 years we’ve been pruning it, and this year it seemed to be producing bigger, less holey apples, but when we harvested some, they were still a little brown and mealy on the inside. Laaaaaaame. Yet another year of not being able to use/preserve our own apples. This year I just HAD to can something apple-y, so I picked up a couple pounds of Honeycrisp apples and put this Small Batch Apple Pie Filling on my list.

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Let’s Make It!

I have a little over 3lbs of apples (there WERE 4lbs, but Honeycrisp are my husband’s favorite haha……) so this will be a small batch apple pie filling recipe – which I think comes in handy for those of us who just run to the store and grab some apples on sale. Then I remembered that I bought this apple corer a couple years ago and never used it, so I dug that out and turns out I LOVE IT. We like our apple pie to be a little chunkier, so I took off the cutter/corer attachment and just used it to peel the apples.

Side Note: I’m saving the peels and cores to make some Apple Scrap Vinegar later, which I did last year for the first time and it’s so easy and great to have around.

After 15min of looking for my apple corer, I cored all the apples, then cut them in half and half again in chunks.

Next I got the sauce on the stove. This is just a mix of sugar, cinnamon, water, salt, lemon juice, and Clear Jel, which I had never used before, but now let me tell you – I love it. It dissolves SO much easier than regular cornstarch and thickens like a champ!

Bring the sugar, half the water, cinnamon, and salt to a boil, then add the Clear Jel/water mixture and let that thicken and come to boil while stirring constantly. Then take it off the heat and add the lemon juice.

Next I filled my quart jars halfway with my apples, ladled in the sugary cinnamon sauce almost up to the neck, then added more apples and pushed them down with a spoon, making sure to get rid of any air bubbles I could see.

Now, some people do this next step and some don’t. I always do, cuz I know the one time I don’t, my jars won’t seal.

Wipe the rims of your jars with vinegar to get rid of any stickiness that may have gotten onto them. Just do it. You’ll thank me when you don’t have to reprocess your jars in anger. Don’t ask me how I know.

Get your lids on your jars and place your quarts in the water bath canner that has been heating up this entire time……right? If it’s not ready and boiling, get it on the burner and go watch an episode of The Great British Baking Show and come back in 30 minutes.

—–30 Minutes Later—-

Place the quarts in your boiling water bath canner, set your timer for 25 minutes, and go watch another episode of The Great British Baking Show and learn how to make Hot Cross Buns.

Tip: When processing time is up, shut off your stove and leave your jars in the canner to cool down a little. This will prevent siphoning.

In 25 minutes you’ll have 3 quarts of Small Batch Apple Pie Filling ready for your pantry or larder and ready for those winter apple pies!

How to Use Apple Pie Filling

Now, if you’ve canned for any amount of time in your life, you know that somehow, even if you followed a recipe EXACTLY, that there will always be leftover liquid. Always. And there was. So what I did was take the extra apple chunks I had, poured the extra sweetness over them, added a dollop of butter and a dash of brown sugar and threw it in the microwave for a couple minutes. Yum, instant preview of your Small Batch Apple Pie Filling!

  • With a spoon
  • Apple Crisp
  • Over pancakes
  • As an ice cream topping
  • In campfire sandwich pockets
  • Baked into a coffee cake
  • Oatmeal mix-in
Small Batch Apple Pie Filling

Small Batch Apple Pie Filling

Yield: About 3 quarts


  • 3 pounds of apples, peeled, cored, chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups of sugar
  • 1/2 cup Sure Jel
  • 1 T ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 5 cups of water (split)
  • 1 1/2  T lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp group nutmeg (optional)


  1. Fill and bring water bath canner to a boil
  2. Gather your quart jars, lids, rings. Wash quarts jars
  3. Peel, core and slice apples
  4. In a medium pan, mix sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and 2.5 cups of water. Cook and stir constantly until sugar is dissolved.
  5. In the other 2.5 cups of water, mix 1/2 c of Sure Jel till dissolved
  6. Add the Sure Jel mixture to the sugar mixture and keep heating and stirring until thick and bubbly. Remove from heat and add lemon juice
  7. Fill your quart jars halfway with apples, then ladle syrup on top up to about the neck. Then add more apples til about 1 inch from the top of the jar. Make sure to leave about 1/2 inch of headspace.
  8. Use a wood spoon or plastic knife to remove any air bubbles in the jar. Then top with lids and rings.
  9. Carefully put jars in water bath canner, bring back to a rolling boil and process for 25 minutes. When processing is done, leave jars in the canner for a couple minutes to prevent siphoning.
  10. Remove jars and place on a towel. As the jars cool, you should hear a 'ping' sound as the jars seal. After a little while, you can press down on the center of each lid to make sure they've sealed. If not, put that jar in the fridge and use in the next week.