Perfect Apple Pie (from Fresh Apples)

The quest for the perfect fresh Apple Pie!

I've spent a lot of time looking for the perfect apple pie--amply filled with slices of cooked apples, no "cave" between the crust and filling, and no oven boil-over (the Thanksgiving horror). I've tried many different recipes and processes over the years, but I think the real secret is in the process and the thickener.  When I judge fairs, one of the things I look for in a fruit pie is the ability to "almost" hold its shape when cut.  The filling should not be rigid, but should "bulge" and the liquid should be clear-colored and glossy-well-thickened but not pasty.  I think you'll find that this recipe creates a finished product that can make your apple pie your family's favorite!



319 cal


12 g


56 g


3 g
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Yields 1 pie

Serves 8


Perfect Apple Pie (from Fresh Apples)

30 min

45 min

1 hr, 15

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  • 8 c. peeled and sliced tart apples (about 1/4 " thick) - pack tightly in measuring cup
  • 2 T. lemon juice (if the apples aren't quite tart enough)
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1/2 t. nutmeg
  • 1/4 t. cloves
  • 8 T. Ultra Gel instant thickener (available at Amazon)
  • homemade or purchased pastry


  • Peel and slice the apples into a microwave-safe container (a covered casserole dish works well). Add the sugar, spices, and Ultra Gel and toss until evenly coated. Cover with a lid or vented plastic wrap and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Stir the apples carefully to make sure they are getting evenly cooked. Continue cooking if necessary until the apples lose their crispness and a fork can be inserted easily. Let cool at least 15 minutes. You will see that the released apple juice is already being thickened.
  • Prepare the bottom crust. Add the apples, smoothing the top. Add the top crust and pierce generously to make vent holes for the steam.
  • Bake in preheated 400 degree oven for 15 minutes, then turn down the heat to 350 degrees for another approximately 30 minutes. If the filling starts to ooze through the vents, the pie is done--remember that the apples have already been cooked and thickened, so no need to get to boiling temperatures in the middle.

Many people hesitate to make fresh apple pie because they consider it to be "unpredictable".  I have to admit that there are a great many unknowns in baking an apple pie, not the least of which is the variety of apple used.  I live in a great apple-growing area, so was able to get farm-fresh apples of many varieties and did a little testing.  In my opinion, the flavor of Granny Smiths was great for a pie but the texture was a little mushy. Galas were too sweet, Honeycrisps were good, as were Jonnygolds. My personal favorite, however, was the Fuji which seemed to keep its shape well even when microwave-blanched.

And speaking of microwave blanching--one frequent complaint with using fresh apples in pies is that the apples cook down, either leaving a hole between top crust and filling or a sparsely filled pie, either of which detracts from the end product.  The secret to this is blanching the apples before baking just enough to take edge off the crispness so they will pack into the crust better.  This could be done in boiling water, but I like doing things the easiest way possible, so I peel the apples into a glass dish with a cover (like a casserole dish) or cover with plastic wrap, leaving a vent.  Then a few minutes in the microwave will do the trick.  And the lovely juices that accumulate go back into the pie.

Another unpredictability of apple pies is the baking process.  As the apples cook, juices are released, which start to thicken only when they get to boiling temperatures if  standard cornstarch or flour are used.  So the juices tend to merrily bubble out the vent holes, creating a smoky mess in the oven.  But when the apples are microwave-blanched with the sugar and Ultra Gel, the juices start to thicken right away, which controls the oven boil-over issue.

I hope you enjoy this method of producing high-quality apple pies as much as I do.  I am no longer intimidated by making apples pies (which makes my family very happy!)

Incidentally, the pies can be frozen before baking for the extra convenience you need at holiday time (don't try this with pies thickened with flour or cornstarch) Do not thaw before baking--bake at 400 for to crisp the crust, then turn down to 350 until hot all the way through (remember--they're already mostly thickened). Cover the edges with foil if they start getting too brown.

Best Sugar Cookies Ever!

Finally--Sugar Cookies that taste good!

So--who doesn't like a melt-in-your mouth sugar cookie--crisp on the outside and soft and flavorful on the inside? Just a little bit of vanilla heaven. Sometimes I forget just how good the right sugar cookie can be because its easy to get lost in the masses of cookies with chocolaty goodness or caramel richness or peanut butter earthiness. But Christmas and children always remind me of the perfect sugar cookie. So here is a recipe for the best sugar cookies ever. The big plus is that the Ultra Gel keeps the cookies moist and tender, even if they get rolled multiple times in childish delight.

Incidentally, I think there should only be one shape of Christmas cookie--a Christmas tree--easy to cut out--easy to recognize even at a distance, and no matter what type of decorations find residence, it looks fine. But that's just me. I'll leave the Santas and reindeer to those of you better than me!



2125 cal


99 g


254 g


40 g
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Yields 36

Easiest and Best Sugar Cookies
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  • 1/2 c. butter, softened (don't substitute margarine--it has a different moisture content)
  • 1/2 c. butter flavored shortening
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1 t. vinegar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 4 T. Ultra Gel
  • 2 1/2 c. lightly stirred all-purpose flour (about 360 g)


  • Cream the butter, shortening, and sugar together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
  • Mix in the vanilla and vinegar, then eggs one at a time and beat well.
  • Mix the salt, baking soda, Utra Gel, and flour together and add to creamed mixtures slowly. Dough should gather into a ball easily. Add extra flour 1 T. at a time if needed.
  • Gather the dough together and work until smooth. Roll out immediately (do not refrigerate or wait to roll out). Roll out to about 1/4" thickness and cut as desired. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake immediately in a preheated 375 degree oven for 10-12 minutes. Don't overbake unless you prefer your cookies crispy!

Note: The combination of the vinegar and baking soda provides leavening without the "baking powder" taste that ruins many sugar cookies. That's why the cookies need to be baked immediately.

Another Note:  Baking sheets will have a great deal to do with the texture of the finished cookies.  A dark pan will absorb heat and produce crispier cookies--a shiny pan will reflect heat and produce softer cookies.

If you (or the kids) get tired of rolling and cutting, just form the rest of the dough into a "log" in your hands, then roll in cake decorations and slice into discs and cook for a quick finish!

Strawberry Cream Cake--So Much Easier than it Looks!

Looking for a Mother's Day treat that really says you care?  That you care enough to take on a dessert that uses three different bowls?  Plus a baking pan?  That sound like real love! Just don't tell anyone that this cake is so easy it's practically criminal.  If you can bake a box cake, you can make this elegant dessert.



2137 cal


130 g


249 g


16 g
Click Here For Full Nutrition, Exchanges, and My Plate Info
Strawberry Cream Cake–So Much Easier than it Looks!
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    Cake Layer
  • 1 white or yellow cake mix
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 c. water
  • 1/2 c. oil
  • Strawberry Glaze
  • 2 c. water (lukewarm)
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 pkg. strawberry drink mix (Kool-Aid)
  • 1/2 c. Ultra Gel®
  • Fruit Layer
  • 1 lb. strawberries, hulled and sliced in 1/4" slices
  • Cream Cheese Filling
  • 1-8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1-8 oz carton non-dairy whipped topping


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • For the cake layer:
  • Make cake according to package directions, using the water, eggs, and oil. If the package directions are different from the ones in the ingredient list, use the ingredients on the package directions.
  • Pour into a greased half sheet pan (12.5"X17")and bake until lightly browned (about twenty minutes). Cool thoroughly (put it in the freezer to cool if you're in a hurry.)
  • For the glaze layer:
  • Combine the sugar, drink mix, and Ultra Gel® and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
  • Add the Ultra Gel® gradually while stirring with a wire whisk. Allow to thicken for about ten minutes, then stir until smooth and glossy.
  • For the cream cheese layer:
  • Cut the cream cheese into cubes for easier handling, then use an electric mixer to beat the cream cheese until smooth.
  • Add the whipped topping and continue beating until smooth. Set aside.
  • To assemble the dessert:
  • When the cake is completely cool, spread the cream cheese filling over the top. If the top tears, don't worry--the glaze will cover it. But it won't tear if it's completely chilled.
  • Place the strawberry slices decoratively on the cream cheese filling.
  • Drizzle the glaze over the top. Smooth if desired.
  • Refrigerate at least two hours for flavors to develop.
  • Garnish with whipped cream and additional strawberries.

First, put the ingredients together for a box cake according to the package directions.  I put in the ingredients from a Duncan Hines cake mix, but your mix might be slightly different.  The big thing is that you end up with a thin layer of cake for the base of the dessert.  Author's note:  Sometimes people ask why I made this cake so large (one-half sheet pan size) and the reason is that it just makes everything come out right--the cream cheese, the whipped topping the glaze and the berries.  But if you don't want to make this much, use a 9x13 pan and only use half of the prepared cake batter and other ingredients.  The other half of the cake batter will make some yummy cupcakes!  Whatever baking pan you use, you only want the cake batter to be about 1/2" thick.

Be careful when you bake--the batter is thin and will cook quickly.  Just cook until lightly browned--no more than twenty minutes.

Set the cake aside to cool.  Put it in the freezer if you want to hurry things up.

While the cake is cooling, start the glaze by combining the sugar, unsweetened drink mix, and Ultra Gel in a bowl.  Stir the ingredients lightly, then add the water all at once and continue stirring with a wire whisk until the sugar is dissolved.  Set aside to thicken.

To make the cream filling, cut the softened cream cheese into cubes for easier handling, then mix with an electric beater until smooth.

Add the thawed non-dairy whipped topping and continue to beat with the electric beater until smooth.

Assemble the cake using the following process:

Spread the cream cheese filling onto the cooled cake.

Arrange the strawberries over the cream cheese filling


Drizzle the glaze over the top of the strawberries.  Smooth if desired.

Refrigerate for at least 2 hours to blend the flavors before serving.

And there you have it!  A Mother's Day treat that looks hard for the one that made motherhood look easy!


Crispy-Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies--Best you'll ever eat!

The perfect chocolate chip cookie.  Some people spend their life in search of that one, perfect recipe.  Look no further--this is the chocolate  chip cookie that will stay crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside even when it cools.  Heaven in 3 inches!!

Nobody needs to show you how to make cookies.  You cream the butter, add the sugars, then eggs, then dry ingredients.  No rocket science there.  But if you want crispy-chewy cookies, there are secrets!!

The first secret is finding the perfect amount of flour to provide structure without dryness.  Because when there is too much flour in any cookie recipe, it will be hard and dry.  So this recipe requires VERY ACCURATE measurement of flour. 

The second secret is the magic of Ultra Gel®, an instant modified food starch, to help give body to the cookie while holding in moisture.  Suddenly, you have the know-how to be the favorite parent on the block!!  (And if this seems revolutionary, check the ingredient statement of your favorite commercial soft cookies--you'll almost always find "modified food starch" as an ingredient.)

Yields 2 1/2 dozen large

Chewy-Crisp Chocolate Chip Cookies–Best You'll Ever Eat!
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  • 1 c. butter, softened
  • 1 c. granulated Sugar
  • 1 c. brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 t. vanilla
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 2 t. hot water
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 2 3/4 c. all-purpose flour (350 g.)
  • 2 T. Ultra Gel®
  • 1 c. walnuts if desired


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  • Cream the butter until smooth, then add the granulated sugar and brown sugar and continue mixing until smooth.
  • Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla.
  • Dissolve baking soda in hot water. Add to batter along with salt.
  • Stir in flour (measure carefully!), chocolate chips, Ultra Gel® and nuts.
  • Drop by large spoonsful onto shiny, ungreased baking sheets.
  • Bake for about 12 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges are nicely browned.

About measuring flour--a standard cup of flour weighs 128 grams.  Most of us in the US don't think about grams much, but weighing flour is much more accurate than using a measuring cup.  When I teach classes on baked goods, I usually start out by having several class members measure out what they think is a cup of flour.  I then weigh the samples, rewarding the one that comes the closest to the standard measure.  It is important to bring the importance of accurate measurements to the attention of those who wish to become excellent bakers.  

Back in the "recent olden days" flour was sifted, then measured in order to get a standard measurement.  Before then, cooks often used teacups or other implements to measure.  I have a recipe from my grandmother's mother (born 1871) for some "Cream Cookies".  I tried to replicate this recipe many years ago and found that the first ingredient was "a bowl of cream".  I questioned my grandmother about it, and her reply was that there was a particular bowl they always used for cream when they skimmed it from the milk.  When I asked how much it contained, she had no idea--it was just "a bowl of cream".  Standardization of measurements has come a long way in the last hundred years!

 But back to measuring flour:  In this day and age, nobody I know even OWNS a sifter, so we rely on just putting flour in a measuring cup and calling it a cup. My experience, however, is that most of the time people put more into a cup than is standard--sometimes by as much as 30%.  Obviously, that will change the results of any baked good. 


If you don't have a scale, use a butter knife to stir the flour, then scoop it carefully into the cup with a spoon, leveling off the top with the back of the knife.  That will get you very close! (I just tested this again and was able to come within just a few grams several times in a row.)

And there you have it!  Perfectly chewy-crisp chocolate chip cookies.  Bet they won't last long enough to get cold!

No-Bake (and safe) Jar Pie

Jar Pie--I'd never heard of it until my cousin told me about baking individual pies in half pint canning jars and serving them at a party--what a fun idea!

In my mind, there are two reasons to use a jar for an individual pie--one is that they're just super-cute and unusual and the other is that you don't have to deal with the drama of rolling out a pie crust. Trendy? Yes. Safe? Maybe questionable.  In doing some research, it appears that although commercial canning jars are constructed to withstand high heat, they aren't made of the same type of glass as baking pans like "Pyrex". They may hold up fine, but there is the chance that due to uneven expansion in the oven, they may break in a profoundly startling manner, ruining a perfectly good day with possible injury in addition to a real mess! But despite the possibility of dire consequences, we have to admit that jar pies are truly adorable!

Great Valentine's Day Treat for those you care about--especially the ones who don't think you can make a pie!

But this is a jar pie that has both the safety and the cuteness factor.  Not only can it be made in half-pint wide-mouth canning jars, it can be made in 8 oz ramekins or even mugs--anything you would put in a microwave--because this jar pie will never touch the oven!

Berry Jar Pie

1-16 oz package frozen berries of your choice (I used a strawberry, raspberry, blueberry blend)

1/2 c. sugar

4 T. Ultra Gel®

Commercial or homemade pie crust for a single crust pie

First, roll out the pie crust to about 3/8" thickness (if you're using a commercial crust, just flatten it out).  Cut out shapes with cookie cutters that will fit in your desired jar/ramekin when they are baked.  Sprinkle with sugar if desired and bake at 400 until lightly browned.

Pour the frozen berries into a microwave-safe bowl (make sure it's large enough to allow substantial expansion).  Add 1/2 c. sugar and 4 T. Ultra Gel®.  Blend together.

Cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high for 2 minutes.  Stir, breaking up any large berries.  Return to microwave for an additional 2 minutes.

Prepare the jars/ramekins by dropping a baked pie crust disk in the bottom of each one.

Divide the hot berry filling among four jars/ramekins, then top with another pie crust disk.

Serve immediately, with ice cream if you want the full experience!  Note:  If you want to plan for a delay and you like the crust to be really crisp, avoid assembling until just before serving.

The Quest for the Perfect Apple Pie. . .

The quest for the Perfect Fresh Apple Pie!

I spent a lot of time over the past couple of weeks searching for the perfect apple pie recipe--amply filled with slices of deliciously spiced apples with no "cave" between the crust and filling, and especially no oven boil-over (the piemarker's horror, especially the night before Thanksgiving. . ) I tried different varieties of apples and different combinations of ingredients searching for the Holy Grail of Pies.  I'll explain the analysis later in the blog, but the three things I found most important were:  Choosing the right apple variety, precooking the apples partially to get a full pie, and using Ultra Gel® instant thickener to avoid boil-out (which is what happens when the juices that accumulate as the apples cook boil out of the top of the pie and result in an ever-loving mess in the bottom of your oven.  And to add insult to injury, the smoke that results usually ruins whatever is baking.)  Here, my friends, is the treasure--the confidence to make the Perfect Apple Pie!



3831 cal


10 g


933 g


53 g

Click Here For Full Nutrition, Exchanges, and My Plate Info

The Perfect Apple Pie. . .
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  • 8 c. peeled and sliced tart apples (about 1/4" thick) - pack tightly in measuring cup
  • 2 T. lemon juice (1 T. for very tart apples)
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1/2 t. nutmeg
  • 1/4 t. cloves
  • 8 T. Ultra Gel instant thickener (available at or Amazon)
  • Homemade or purchased pastry for deep dish 9" pie


  • Peel and slice the apples into a microwave-safe comtainer (a covered casserole dish works well).
  • Add the sugar, spices, and Ultra Gel® and toss until evenly coated.
  • Cover with a lid or vented plastic wrap and microwave on high for 5 minutes.
  • Stir the apples carefully to make sure they get evenly cooked.
  • Continue cooking if necessary until the apples lose their crispness and a fork can be inserted easily.
  • Let cool at least 15 minutes--you will see that the released apple juice is already starting to thicken.
  • Prepare the bottom crust.
  • Add the thickened filling to the crust, smoothing the top.
  • Add the top crust and pierce generously to make vent holes for the steam.
  • Bake in preheated 400 degree oven for 15 minutes, then turn down the heat to 350 degrees for an additional thirty minutes. If the filling starts to ooze through the vents, the pie is done--remember that the apples have already been cooked and thickened, so no need to cook to boiling temperatures throughout.

About apples:  I live in a great apple-growing area, so many varieties of fresh apples are easily available, and I think I tried them all!  Granny Smiths are a national favorite for cooking for good reason--their tartness is a perfect foil for the added sweetener.  The favor of the pie made with Granny Smiths was great but I was hoping for a little more firmness in the texture. Galas were too sweet, Honeycrisps were good, as were Jonnygolds. My current personal favorite, however, is the Fuji which seems to stay firm even when precooked.

About precooking apples:  Do it!!  Put the sliced apples in a covered casserole dish or cover with plastic wrap and microwave for six to eight minutes, stirring every couple of minutes, until a fork can be inserted.  This takes the crispness out of the apples and

allows them to be easily arranged in the pie plate without the expectation of further shrinking, which leaves a very unflattering "cave" between the filling and the crust.

About using the right thickener:  This is the real secret to the smooth texture and lovely sheen of the Perfect Apple Pie.  Since Ultra Gel® is an instant starch, it grabs the moisture when it is released from the apples and immediately thickens it, which keeps it from boiling out of the pie.  And those lovely thickened juices are at their mouthwatering best when still warm.  Side of ice cream, anyone?

This photo shows two standard glass pie plates (incidentally, if you want the bottom crust of your fruit pie to be crisp, the heat-conducting qualities of a glass pie plate will be an advantage). The pie plate on the left is a "deep dish" style pie plate and holds roughly 1 1/2 times the pie filling as the one on the right--also a standard pie plate. This recipe is sized for the plate on the left or one like it.

Incidentally, pies thickened with Ultra Gel® can be made and frozen ahead of your big celebration (don't try this if you thicken with traditional cornstarch or flour).  After preparing the pies, bake them for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees, then remove from the oven, cool, package, and freeze. Do not thaw before baking--bake at 400 for about 15 minutes to crisp the crust, then turn down to 350 until hot all the way through (remember--they're already thickened). Cover the edges with foil if they start getting too brown.

Happy Holidays to all!!

Apple Pie Filling - Home Canned with love and flavor!

Football weather at our house is also Apple Pie Filling weather!  It is a rite of passage to gather the family to survey the plentiful and delicious local apples, choose a good Saturday, and mass produce enough apple pie filling for the year.  We have been home-canning Apple Pie Filling for over 25 years now, as early adopters when the USDA came out with recipes that were tested and recommended for the home canner using the modified food starch Clearjel.  This recipe has been adapted to use Ultra Gel®, as it is easily available and far more versatile than Clearjel.



3568 cal


2 g


1062 g


6 g

Click Here For Full Nutrition, Exchanges, and My Plate Info

Apple Pie Filling – Home Canned with love!
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  • 6 quarts peeled apples (tart) sliced to 1/4"
  • 2 1/2 c. water
  • 5 c. apple juice
  • 3/4 c. bottled lemon juice
  • 5 1/2 c. sugar
  • 3 c. Ultra Gel®
  • 1 T. cinnamon
  • 1 t. nutmeg (opt)
  • 7 drops yellow food coloring (opt)


  • Peel, core, and slice apples (1/4 inch thickness for even cooking). Place in water containing ascorbic acid or other anti-browning agent.
  • Blanch apple slices in boiling water for 1 minute in batches, then keep warm (I use a 6 qt slow cooker on warm). Also see notes below.
  • Start 4-5 inches of water boiling in the water bath canner.
  • Combine water, apple juice, and lemon juice in a large heavy pan (I use a 12 qt magnalite--oldie but goodie!)
  • Combine sugar, Ultra Gel®, and spices in a bowl, mix together, and reserve for later use.
  • Bring the liquids to a boil
  • Remove from the heat and add the sugar mixture while stirring with a heavy wire whisk or spoon. This will result in a heavy paste. Remember, you will be adding more juice with the apples, so it needs to be thick.
  • Return to a medium heat and bring back to a boil, stirring constantly. It will pop and spit, so be careful! Boil for 1 minutes.
  • Add the warm apples to the liquid mixture and stir gently to avoid breaking the apple slices. Bring back to a boil, then start filling the prepared bottles. Keep the mixture warm. It is important that the mixture in the jars be very hot when added to the water bath canner.
  • Fill the bottles to 1/2 inch from the top. It is important to leave enough headspace for the filling to expand as it cooks.
  • Clean the bottle rims well, then add the lids per manufacturer directions.
  • Add the filled bottles to the boiling water in the water bath canner. The water should cover the bottles.
  • Adjust the heat to keep a slow boil. Process for 35 minutes.

A word about apples:  There are an explosion of apples that work well for pie filling.  Look for the attributes you like in a fresh apple pie--some people like an apple with a firm texture and substantial "bite" where others like a softer, sweeter apple.  I've used a wide variety of apples--I started with Golden Delicious fresh off the tree while they still had a natural tartness and liked that they held their shape well.  Johnathans had great tartness, but the slices seemed to break up more in handling.  I used Jonagolds last year and found them delightful, and this year I'm using Fujis, which are also nice and a little firmer than others I've tried.  The moral of the story is--use whatever you like in your fresh pies!  When you're purchasing, plan about 1 1/2 lbs fresh apples per quart.

As for peeling apples--6 quarts seems like an overwhelming amount, but just put on a decent movie and get started.  We often use an apple peeler/slicer and during a decent football game my husband plus one son can peel enough apples for 3 batches.  If the game is really exciting, though, the apple peeling efficiency goes right down the drain!  But I never have to beg for help--this is one product nobody wants to run out of!

My personal feeling (coming from a foods manufacturing background) is that if you're going to get out all the equipment necessary to can apple pie filling, you benefit from making multiple batches.  So staff the project with pie-loving participants and set up an assembly line.  Most of the equipment doesn't need to be washed between batches, saving a ton of time!

On blanching the apples:  The theory of blanching (or parboiling) apples is that cooking them quickly inactivates enzymes which cause browning and reduced quality and also to heat the apples in preparation for canning.  It is critical that the apples are cooked until a fork can be inserted, and that they be kept warm to ensure that they don't cool down the apple mixture before packing in the bottles.  Apple pie filling is very thick, and requires that the mixture be packed at boiling temperatures and immediately be transferred to a boiling water bath canner to guarantee proper heat conduction throughout the jar.

Ascorbic acid or "Fruit Fresh" is added to water to protect the sliced apples from browning while six quarts are accumulated

Make sure the apples are coated with the water and anti-browning agent.

I found early on that I run out of stove space when I make apple pie filling, so I pre-cook the apples in the microwave rather than blanching them. I put 2 quarts in a covered casserole dish, then microwave until a fork can be easily inserted. In my microwave, I cook for 5 minutes on high, then stir, making sure the apples in the center are moved to where they will get more heat, then microwave for an additional 3 minutes.

A fork should be able to pierce the apple pieces easily.

Then the apples and any accumulated juices are transferred to a slow cooker on the warm setting to stay warm. A six quart slow cooker is just the right size for six quarts of peeled and sliced apples. If you get interrupted, turn the slow cooker off, so the apples don't get overcooked. They will stay warm enough.

Add the liquids to a heavy pan that will hold at least 7 quarts and bring to a boil over high heat.

Combine the dry ingredients.

Mix well with a fork or wire whisk.

Pour the dry ingredients into the liquid ingredients gradually, stirring constantly.

Add the apples and stir to combine. Bring back to boiling.

Pack the bottles, leaving 1/2" - 3/4" headspace.

Water bath for 35 minutes, keeping the water at a slow boil.


Peach Pie Filling - Home Canned!

Home-canned peach pie filling--like summer sunshine in a bottle!!  Think of peach pie or cobbler in February, when we're all wondering if the sun will ever shine again here in the Pacific Northwest.  In my area, there is still a plentiful supply of late-summer peaches.  O Henry peaches are one of my favorites for their robust flavor and rich color, but others prefer a firmer peach like an Elberta for use in peach pie filling.  Every area has its favorites.  But one thing is for sure--regardless of what variety you use, you'll be glad you have it!



5029 cal


12 g


1451 g


44 g

Click Here For Full Nutrition, Exchanges, and My Plate Info

Peach Pie Filling – Home Canned!
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  • 6 quarts peaches, peeled and sliced
  • 3/4 c. lemon juice
  • 6 c. sugar
  • 4 c. Water
  • 3 c. Ultra Gel®
  • 2 t. cinnamon (optional)


  • Peel and slice peaches.
  • Add the lemon juice.
  • Working in batches, microwave blanche the peaches until steaming, stirring once. (I used a covered 2-quart casserole dish and heated on full power for 3 minutes, stirred then another 3 minutes. Your microwave may need different timing according to its wattage and the amount of peaches blanched at a time)
  • Transfer the peaches and any juice that accumulated to a slow cooker or roaster on the "keep warm" setting until needed.
  • Combine sugar, Ultra Gel® and cinnamon in a bowl.
  • Bring water to a boil in a large, heavy pan (at least 8 quarts)
  • Add sugar mixture and stir in. This will make a very thick paste that might look like it has some lumps in it. Don't worry--it will be fine.
  • Add the peaches The extra juice from the peaches will smooth out the thickened juices
  • Bring back to a boil and immediately pack the pie filling into clean jars, leaving 1" headspace
  • Process in a water bath canner for 30 minutes.

About blanching the peaches:  In general, blanching is a concept that involves plunging fresh fruits or vegetables into boiling water for a short period of time in order to raise the temperature quickly.  For purposes of home-canned pie filling, it is critical for every part of the jar of filling to  achieve the appropriate temperatures to inactivate the enzymes and kill the microorganisms that cause food spoilage.  Some recipes suggest blanching by dipping the peeled and sliced peaches in boiling water  and that is certainly effective.  But you lose all that flavorful juice and that just hurts my heart!  Microwave blanching in a covered container should achieve the same goal if done properly and have the advantage of retaining  the juices.

To accomplish this, put the peeled and sliced peaches in a heavy glass bowl (covered by a plate) or covered casserole dish and microwave for two minutes (be sure to protect against steam burns by using oven mitts).  Stir carefully to make sure the peaches in the center are getting equal heat, and continue to microwave for another two minutes.  Repeat as necessary.  It only takes a batch or two to figure out a system that works.  When adequately cooked, a fork should pierce the peaches easily but they need not be limp  They should, however, be steamy and too hot to handle!  Then slide them into a slow cooker on the "keep warm" setting until you have enough for the batch.

Pie filling is a thickened product, which means that heat will be slower to penetrate than if free water is available.  In order to achieve a pie filling that will keep for the long term, it's really important to make sure all the pieces of the pie filling are at boiling temperatures when the bottles are packed.  I know, we all hate to overcook those beautiful peaches, so its best to be able to work fast and get the peaches peeled and blanched as quickly as possible.

Peach Pie Filling is a delightful "end of summer" treat that will give back during the cold winter ahead (for those of us who have cold winters. . .)

Just a note:  A quart of home-canned pie filling isn't enough for a deep dish pie.  It is adequate for a standard pie (see photos of standard pie plates).  If you want a larger pie, you might need to use a quart and a half of filling, or possibly add some blueberries.


Perfect Peach Pie!

Peach Pie--life doesn't get better than a cool fall evening and warm peach pie and ice cream shared with friends.  The glory of peach pie is the syrupy richness of the sweet, thickened juices of the ripe peaches, but that's also part of the drama of peach pie.  Because ripe, flavorful peaches are so juice-filled, as they heat during the baking process those juices are released. Traditional thickeners--flour and cornstarch don't thicken until the juices get to boiling temperatures.  And that can create two problems:  1) The bottom crust can become soggy from all that juice, and 2) The juice can boil out through the slits in the top, creating a very smelly mess on the bottom of the oven and a pie that isn't very pretty.

The secret to "Perfect Peach Pie" is using Ultra Gel® as a thickener.  It is an instant starch, which means when that yummy peach juice is released, it is immediately thickened, ensuring a crisp crust and no boil-out.  And a presentation you can be proud of!!



2517 cal


61 g


395 g


14 g

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Perfect Peach Pie!
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  • 4 c. fresh peaches, peeled and sliced
  • 2 T. lemon juice
  • 1 t. vanilla or 1/2 t. almond extract
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 6 T. Ultra Gel® ( or Amazon-search for "Ultra Gel Super Sale" for sale prices.
  • 1/2 t. cinnamon
  • Double crust for 9" pie


  • Add the lemon juice and flavoring to the peaches.
  • Combine the sugar, Ultra Gel® and cinnamon in a separate container and mix together.
  • Add the sugar mixture to the peach mixture and shake or stir gently until well combined.
  • The mixture shouldn't be dry. If it doesn't look like the photo below, add a couple of tablespoons of water.
  • Turn the mixture into a pastry-lined 9" pie plate.
  • Add the top crust, crimp the edges, and carefully cut slits to let the steam escape.
  • Brush the top crust lightly with milk for nice browning.
  • Bake in an oven preheated to 425 for 15 minutes, then turn down to 350 for another 30-40 minutes.

Peel and slice the peaches.

Combine the sugar, Ultra Gel® and cinnamon in a separate bowl. (Woops, hadn't added the cinnamon, yet)

Add the sugar mixture to the peaches and stir or shake gently.

The sugar will start to pull the juices from the peaches, where the Ultra Gel® will start to thicken them.

If after a few minutes your peaches look drier than this, add a couple of tablespoons of water. Some peaches are juicier than other, either from the way they were stored, how ripe they are, or what variety they are.

Turn the peach mixture into a 9" pie plate lined with pastry.

Using glass pie plates for fruit pies give the best chance of getting a firm, well-baked bottom crust because glass absorbs the heat well. Second choice would be a dark-colored metal pie plate. Save the shiny ones for single-crust pies, where the heat can come from both top and bottom. Notice the two different styles of pie plates: One is about 1/2 inch taller than the other. This recipe is sized for the pie plate on the right--if you want to use a bigger or deeper pie plate, you will need to 1 1/2 x the recipe

Yumminess on the way!

Cut slits to allow the steam to escape and crimp the edges well. I like to brush the top of the pie with milk for better browning.

Ahhhh. . You've been smelling it for the past hour--now to put it on the cooling rack and watch your guests gather round. Notice--no boilout. Beautiful pie with plenty of juiciness!

Just because I couldn't help it. .

Peach Crisp with Blueberries (Peach Cobbler?)

Some sources say a cobbler uses a biscuit-type topping where a "crisp" or a "crumble" uses a streusel-type topping.  If that is the case, this recipe qualifies as a crisp.  But terminology varies from region to region, so both names are in the title for searching purposes.  But it doesn't really matter what it's called--the whole concept of sweet, thickened fruit juice bubbling up through a crispy topping (ultimately with a scoop of vanilla ice cream) is one of the best desserts ever. So easy and SOOO delicious!  And in this recipe the Ultra Gel® thickens the peach juices as they are released, so no messy boil-over.  And the topping stays crisp because the filling is already thick when baking takes place.  Lovely and glossy. . Tastes as good as it looks!



2986 cal


104 g


490 g


42 g

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Peach Crisp with Blueberries (Peach Cobbler?)
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    Fruit Filling
  • 5 c. peeled, sliced ripe peaches
  • 2 c. blueberries (frozen are ok)
  • 2 T. lemon juice (bottled is ok)
  • 1 c. sugar (add 1/4 cup more if peaches are tart)
  • 1/2 c. Ultra Gel® ( or Amazon-search "Ultra Gel Super Sale" for best prices
  • Crumb topping
  • 1 c. quick oats
  • 1 c. flour
  • 1 c. brown sugar (firmly packed)
  • 1/4 t. baking powder
  • 1/4 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 c. butter, melted


  • For the filling: Combine the peaches with the blueberries if desired. If not, use 7 c. peaches. Add the lemon juice and stir gently. Combine the sugar with the Ultra Gel and mix, then add to the peach mixture, mixing lightly to combine.
  • Turn the fruit into a 9x13" baking dish. (It will start to thicken.)
  • Combine the quick oats, flour, brown sugar and melted butter and mix lightly until well combined. Sprinkle it on top of the fruit filling.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until thickened juice bubbles around the outsides and through the topping.
  • Serve warm.

Lovely sweet peaches peeled and sliced with 2 T. lemon juice added. Blueberries would be added here, too, if desired.

Sugar added to Ultra Gel®

Sugar mixture is added to fruit mixture and gently stirred. It will start to thicken almost immediately.

Fruit filling is turned into a 9 x 13" baking dish. The lovely gloss is merely a hint of the finished product to come.

Streusel-type topping is prepared, then sprinkled evenly over the fruit filling.

Baked at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. The juices should be boiling up around the edges and through the topping. But don't overbake--the fruit is already thickened, so it just needs to be cooked through.

The perfect dessert--not too sweet and full of flavorful goodness!

Notice the fruit filling--it isn't sloppy or too juicy--the crisp appropriately holds its shape as it is dished up.

And the final product--Warm fresh fruit with a crunchy topping. Burst of flavor with a contrast of texture. Best dessert ever!