How to Can Blueberry Pie Filling
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Canning blueberry pie filling lets you enjoy this summer treat all year long! Preserve blueberries with this recipe for home-canned blueberry pie filling.
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Blueberries are one of my favourite summer fruits. I love to eat them fresh, and frozen blueberries can’t be beat! I usually buy a bunch in the summer and freeze pounds of them to use throughout the year in baking, on top of cereal, in smoothies, in oatmeal, on ice cream and yogurt, or just to eat by the handful. But one of my favourite ways to preserve them is to make home-canned blueberry pie filling.
We purchase organic blueberries from a local farm and every year our order seems to get larger and larger! This year I ordered 40 pounds to preserve in various forms and to get us through the year (because I just refuse to pay top dollar for berries from other countries when they’re not in season here, especially non-organic ones that have been sprayed with all sorts of chemicals. Yuck!)
We do have four blueberry bushes of our own, but since this is our first summer in our new home and we only just planted them this spring, we don’t have nearly enough to enjoy fresh and preserve too. (Plus, we have a three-year-old who likes to swipe all the blueberries off the plant as soon as they’re ready to eat!)
I’ve been canning blueberry pie filling for a few years now and every year I seem to put up more and more jars because it is such a handy thing to keep on hand in the pantry all year long! It makes for a super quick and easy dessert if you need to whip something together at the last minute, and I actually find that using this home-canned pie filling makes for a thicker, less runny pie filling than you get when making it fresh.
This recipe is adapted from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, which I affectionately call my “canning bible.” It’s packed with 400 recipes for canning everything from jams, jellies pie fillings and preserves to stocks, soups, sauces and so much more. If canning is something you want to learn more about or you want to expand your repertoire of home canning recipes, I can’t recommend this book highly enough!
If you already own a copy of this book, you might notice that I’ve made a few minor changes to the recipe. For one, I’ve doubled the batch because I just don’t see much point in doing all of the prep work just to make a measly three or four pints. Plus, I like to can my pie filling in quart jars because I find that one quart of blueberry pie filling is the perfect amount for a standard 9-inch pie.
Now, if you’ve read any of my canning recipes before, you know I always stress that you should follow a tried and tested recipe and don’t alter it as it could make your recipe unsafe. However, once you understand how canning works, you can actually tweak recipes a bit here and there.
Basically the most important thing when water-bath canning fruits like blueberries is that you maintain the acidity levels as this is what prevents botulism spores from growing. Typically when canning most fruits you are able to use the water-bath method because fruits are already high in acidity. The addition of lemon juice helps to make sure that acidity is maintained.
From there, it’s recommended that you don’t change a recipe too much as adding different ingredients can affect the acidity level. However all I did with this recipe was swap plain water for blueberry water (for extra flavour), and add nutmeg (which is quite common in similar canning recipes).
I much preferred the flavour once I added the nutmeg. Of course, nutmeg is completely optional, and you could even make your pie filling without nutmeg and then add it later. Or try cinnamon instead! But I personally find that the nutmeg really brings out the flavour of the blueberries in this pie filling.
Canning pie filling in general is also super easy even if you’re a total canning newbie. You don’t need much in the way of special equipment, but one thing that is highly recommended is using Clear-Jel, which is basically a thickener that takes the place of flour or cornstarch in pie filling.
Clear-Jel is recommended for canning because flour and cornstarch can end up clumping together and affecting the quality of your canned pie filling. Clear-Jel is a corn derivative just like cornstarch, but is is made to withstand the heat of canning and maintains its consistency. It’s widely recommended for use in canning pie filling and is even considered to be the safer method. But mostly it’s a quality issue.
Using Clear-Jel (cook-type, not instant) will ensure your pie filling comes out of the jar just as good as when it went in!
Otherwise I do recommend a few basic canning tools that will make your life much easier (and spare you from scolding your hands with boiling water or hot pie filling!) These are the tools I use, love and recommend:
Once you have everything you need, you’re ready to get canning!
As for what to do with your canned pie filling afterward? Well, of course you can make some delicious, flaky homemade pie crust and use your blueberry pie filling to make a traditional homemade blueberry pie. But there are so many other ways to enjoy it too!
Try it over cheesecake, mixed with yogurt or oatmeal, or for a really quick and easy dessert, dump pie filling into a baking dish and cover with a mixture of rolled oats, butter and sugar to make a crumble. (You can use the same crumble topping that I use for my homemade apple crumble to make a blueberry crumble with this pie filling).
And of course, you could always just crack a jar and eat it with a spoon. There is absolutely no shame in that;)
Oh, and if you like this recipe, be sure to check out my recipe for home-canned cherry pie filling too! While I love blueberry pie, cherry pie is by far my favourite, so I ALWAYS make sure to stock up on home-canned cherry pie filling each summer.
What about you? What’s your favourite type of pie? How else would you use this home-canned pie filling? Leave a comment below and let me know!
- 14 cups blueberries (washed and de-stemmed)
- 3 1/3 cups Sugar
- 1 1/3 cups ClearJel
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- Prepare canner, jars and lids.
- Fill a large stainless steel pot halfway with water and boil over high heat. Add blueberries and cook for one minute.
- Drain blueberries, allowing blueberry water to drain into a bowl. Cover blueberries to keep them warm. Reserve 4 cups of the blueberry liquid. *Note: If you accidentally forget to reserve the blueberry liquid, just measure out 4 cups of regular water.
- In a large stainless steel pot, mix sugar and Clear-Jel. Whisk in 4 cups of reserved blueberry liquid and bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Stirring constantly, reduce heat and boil lightly until mixture begins to bubble and thicken (it will get quite thick and you will feel resistance so you'll know when it's thick enough).
- Stir in lemon juice and nutmeg and cook for one minute, stirring constantly.
- Remove from heat and gently mix in the warm blueberries.
- Remove hot jars from canner one at a time and ladle hot pie filling into each one, leaving just a bit more than one inch of headspace. Remove any air bubbles with a knife and adjust headspace if needed.
- Wipe rim, place lid on jar and screw band down until fingertip tight.
- Place jars in canner and make sure they're completely submerged in water before placing the canner lid on. Bring water to a boil and process jars for 30 minutes. Once processing time is up, turn off the heat, remove the canner lid and allow jars to rest in the canner for another 5 minutes.
- Remove jars and let cool completely before storing in a cool dark place.
Wishing you homemade, homegrown, homestead happiness 🙂
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