Well it’s happened again: apple-picking season here in the Northeastern U.S. has started, and we haven’t planned our annual pilgrimage to the apple orchard yet. That is downright unacceptable, as this is my favorite season and apple-picking is one of my family’s absolute favorite activities. Whether they love the day itself more, or all the apple baking that happens afterward doesn’t matter to me one bit. Love is love. And since every year I overpick those gorgeous apples, especially if we go early enough in the season that the trees are packed with fruit, I have to be ready when bounty turns to albatross. This easy homemade gluten free apple pie filling is part of my new plan. What do you think?
(By the way, welcome back to D.I.Y. Fridays, an occasional blog series where we D.I.Y. a basic (sometimes naturally gluten free) recipe (like today’s recipe for gluten free apple pie filling) or other ingredient that you otherwise might be inclined to buy. We save money! We make things taste better!)
The kids have selected their apple-picking sneakers (sneakers that still fit, of course, but are so beaten up that they make me sad so I don’t panic every time they step in smushed road apples *ew*), and they’ve begun begging for their favorite baked goods.
This apple pie filling is super simple to make, and it uses up as many pounds of apples as you like. Just scale the recipe ingredients up or down as necessary. As written, the recipe uses 3 pounds of apples (about 6 medium-to-large apples), which seemed like a nice compromise to me. Since I’m simply not confident about water bath canning (my idea of canning is putting something, anything, into a canning jar and closing the lid), although I’m sure there’s a way to modify this recipe to be appropriate for canning I’m afraid I’m just not the one to tell you how. Replacing the tapioca starch with UltraJel (a gluten free modified canning starch) is probably a good start. If you know, tell us about it in the comments!
Apple pie filling is a wonderful thing to have on hand for a last-minute apple crisp, like you see here, or even for using in an actual apple pie. Since the apples have already been blanched, they cook to the proper consistency much more quickly so you can bake your pie crust to perfection without worrying about overbaking it. Puree the apple pie filling and you’ve got pretty much the very best apple butter you can imagine. Warm the filling and pour it over a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Need I say more?
D.I.Y. Friday: Easy Gluten Free Apple Pie Filling
1 1/2 cups (300 g) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (109 g) packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (or more to taste)
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (or more to taste)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 1/2 cups (36 fluid ounces) lukewarm water
3 tablespoons (27 g) tapioca starch/flour
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 pounds baking apples (Gala apples work very well), peeled, cored and sliced
Make the syrup. In a medium-size, heavy-bottom saucepan, place the granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and 4 cups of the water, whisk to combine well and then place over medium heat. In a separate, small bowl, place the tapioca starch/flour and the remaining 1/2 cup water, and mix to combine well. This is your thickening slurry. Add the slurry to the sugar and water mixture in the saucepan, whisk constantly. Allow the mixture to come to a simmer over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until it has begun to thicken (about 5 minutes). Remove the saucepan from the heat, add the lemon juice and whisk to combine, then pour the mixture into a separate large bowl and set aside to cool.
While the syrup is cooling, blanch the apples. Place the peeled, cored and sliced apples in a large, heat-safe bowl and cover completely with boiling water. Cover the bowl and allow the apples to steam for 10 minutes. Remove the cover and strain the water from the apples.
Add the blanched apples to the large bowl with the cooling syrup and mix to combine. Divide the mixture among 3 quart-sized glass canning jars and allow to cool before covering and refrigerating.
Blanching apples concept from Serious Eats.