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:
- Canning scoop
- Canning funnel (with built-in headspace measurement)
- Jar lifter
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!
How to Can Blueberry Pie Filling
- 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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Hum, interesting. Should it be 3,5 quarts or 7 pints ?
Anna Sakawsky on July 12, 2019 at 12:34 pm
This recipe makes about 4 quarts or 8 pints.
Anna Sakawsky on April 24, 2021 at 3:52 pm
This recipe makes 3 quarts or 6 pints.
This recipe is adapted from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, which states that the recipe should make 4 quarts / 8 pints. However in practice, I typically only get 3 quarts / 6 pints out of this recipe. Sometimes there’s a little extra leftover that I’ll put in the fridge, but not enough to can. The amounts can sometimes vary. I always prepare extra jars just in case, but usually I get about 3 quart jars or 6 pints from this recipe. Sorry about the confusion!
I’m moving hundreds of miles from my overachieving blueberry bush (9 gallons this year!). I’m using all the half pint jars I have to take jam with me to my new home, and I’ve still got buckets of berries. I was all set to try this recipe when I realized it makes 3 quarts. I’ve only got 2 one-quart jars. Then I realized, I can make a pie! Thanks! Boy, I’m gonna miss that bush. 🙁
Bonjour Anna, here in Quebec it is blueberries high season. We got kilos from our garden. We will make preserve as you suggest. To do so, we have two questions : first, can we substitute sugar with maple syrup ? Second, can we substitute Clearjel with chia as the thickener ?
Merci, have a nice day.
Great questions, Georges!
First, yes – you can substitute maple syrup for sugar in canning recipes without any safety issues. However, it will change the product described in Anna’s recipe. The amount to substitute seems dependent on taste preference. One source said for every cup of sugar substitute 2/3 cup maple syrup and reduce the overall liquid by 1/4 cup. BUT as Anna nor I have tried this recipe with a sugar substitute, we can not guarantee the finished product will be the same. This link has some good information on canning fruits with syrup. (https://ask2.extension.org/kb/faq.php?id=331404) It seems that the product quality may be a concern when making the switch but not safety of the product.
Secondly, chia seeds have not been tested for use as a thickener and I would not try it. Your best bet would be to omit the thickener completely for canning. The pie filling will be fine to can without the thickener and then you are free to thicken it as you wish when you will actually use it. Again, do not can anything with chia seeds for safety reasons.
Enjoy all those wonderful blueberries!
Getting ready to make a batch of your blueberry pie filling. My blueberries are frozen. Do I need to thaw them first or adjust any cooking time? Wish me luck!
When using frozen berries, the process is the same with a couple of adjustments.
First, measure the berries while frozen (like as fresh) for accuracy.
Second, thaw the berries but as you do do, drain and save the juice they leave and set aside.
Then follow the process in the recipe including heating in water and draining/saving the liquid (separately from thawed juice).
When measuring the 4 cups liquid for the recipe, use the thawed juice first and then continue with the warm juice if needed.
The rest should is the same as in the recipe.
This is gonna be great! How many finished quarts does the 14 cups make? (On avg)
Oops! Just saw it, nvm!
How many quarts does this make?
This recipe makes 3 quarts or 6 pints.
Oh my! I just made 6 pints of this heavenly goodness! I actually had some extra and put it in 2 1/2 pint jars in the fridge. Not sure if I measured wrong or didn’t fill the jars enough. Those two pints in the fridge probably won’t make it through the night! We will eat it with a spoon! Sooooo good! Used the blueberries from my yard. I have enough to do another batch tomorrow, was gonna make jelly with those but now I may just make more pie filling!
That’s wonderful, Donna! The actual amount of filling really depends on many factors including berry size and volume. That is why I always prep one or two extra jars for the extra that may occur. I don’t always need them, but they come in handy when I do. 😉
Hi Anna, Is there anything I can do with all this leftover blueberry water after canning my pie filling?
If you have blueberry water left over you can turn it into juice or jelly!
I just made a triple batch of your pie filling and wound up with 9 quarts. I saw above that you mentioned making jelly with the leftover blueberry water. Do you have a recipe for that, or suggestions?
I am impressed that you were able to make such a large batch of this yummy pie filling! Great job! 🙂
Jellies are generally very easy. You will only need the juice and some sugar and pectin (and sometimes lemon juice). The amounts of each will vary depending on the pectin you will use. There are several brands out there and you can get a good jelly using any of them (powder or liquid, regular or low sugar). Each package will have recipes inside for jellies and jams for you to follow. For a blueberry jelly just follow the instructions for the berry jelly (it will work for all berries not listed individually). And you can add a bit of water to the juice to make the total amount of juice needed for your recipe if you are little bit short on the volume.
The process will be similar to Anna’s Spiced Plum Jelly recipe in which she uses a liquid pectin. However, some measurements may be slightly different depending on your choice of pectin and I would remove the spices unless you wanted a touch of the nutmeg like Anna used in her pie recipe. Here is her spiced plum jelly recipe for reference: https://thehouseandhomestead.com/spiced-plum-jelly/
I hope that helps. 🙂
Tish had some good tips. If you want to use a powdered pectin for your jelly, here’s a good recipe to follow (just sub your blueberry juice for the blackberry juice in this recipe).
Can this recepie be used for making huckleberry pie filling?
As I have not tried to can huckleberries in any way, I can not say for certain. I would venture to say that it probably can be done as most berries are similarly handled for canning. I may not use the nutmeg (unless you choose to do so) but I would say to give it a try and see. Maybe do a small batch as a test to see if it turns out the way you like it.
This recipe is adapted from the Ball Complete Book of Home Food Preservation. It calls specifically for blueberries so I can’t guarantee that huckleberries would work in place of the blueberries in this exact recipe. It shouldn’t be a problem as far as safety is concerned as huckleberries are quite a high acid fruit, but I’m not sure of the amounts or how much liquid you would get out of them for your filling.
If you use frozen blueberries do you still need to blanch them?
Do you just add the blueberries to the boiling water and cook for one minute or do you bring them back to a boil and cook for one minute after that?
Yes, you need to bring them up to a boil first.
I wish I would have known that because I just made 2 batches and I did not bring the blueberries back up to a boil. Other than that they taste amazing and I hope they come out ok
This recipe looks amazing but just to be sure I understand – do I need to boil my blueberries if they are frozen?
I’m so excited to try this recipe! Can I make this with a sugar substitute such as erythritol?
I’ve never tried using a sugar substitute like this but in theory you could. It wouldn’t affect the safety of the finished product however it may affect the flavour so I’m not sure quite how it would turn out. I would maybe try doing a small batch first and then try that out a few days later after it’s had a chance to sit on your shelf for a few days and then if you like the result go ahead and can more. But you may find you don’t like the flavour in the end so I would just start small. The other thing you can do is reduce the sugar content. Again, sugar has no bearing on safety with canning so it would be safe to reduce the sugar. It just might affect the overall flavour and quality of your finished product.
Great, thank you!
A sugar substitute? Why do that if you are looking into fresh canning techniques that have been introduced for hundreds of years.
Why change a good thing? Personally I wouldn’t give my family anything
called erythritol! I know they say it’ s natural, but it can’t be as good as plain old refined sugar…just my opinion. However, if there’s a diabetic in the family and you want to eliminate refined sugar maybe someone out there can help, but if that is not the reason then keep it simple, the way granma used to make it.
This is My first year of Canning and it’s been a great joy!
When you measure your fruit do you use a liquid measuring cup?
I attempted to make Cherry Jam and used Turbinado Cane Sugar. It has a more course texture verses Domino Granulated Sugar. The batch did not have a firm set. It is more like a sauce. Do you think the substation of Sugar could have been the problem?
I’m enjoying all the information on your boards!
sticky mess. I am sure it will come out like store bought. transferring berries is also messy. I think I will just make the fruit canned and add the clear gel to the semi finished pie.
You can also can up the filling without the clear gel and add a thickener When you’re ready to make your pie. At this point you can use clear gel or you can use another thickener like flour or cornstarch.
Hi! A little late to the conversation but I just made this using 14 cups of blueberries I just picked from my bush. I followed instructions but got exactly 4 quarts out of it. Is that ok? It tastes delicious. Just nervous about the acidity since I got 4 instead of 3 but still only used 1/4 cup of lemon juice. Thanks
Hi Alicia! Yes as long as you followed the directions and have the correct headspace, etc. if you got a full 4 quarts instead of 3 then it’s fine. I always prepare an extra jar just in case for this exact reason. I always find that the end result is either a little more or less than what it “should” be. Sometimes it’s little things like extra cooking time, temperature, size of the berries, etc. that can cause a difference in the end yield. Totally normal and safe so long as you followed the directions:)
Thank you for this recipe!!!
i,m excited to find your post,as i didn’t know anything about canning pie filling, i will be canning blueberry pie filling tomorrow, and in four days canning peach pie filling.so happy to learn about CLEAR jell !! i do have one question however, is there any way to keep the blue berry skins more tender rather than chewy after they are cooked ? thank you for so much information.i’m only 80 and still learning !
I’ve never had a problem with blueberry skins being chewy once canned. Not with this recipe anyway so I’m not sure what to tell you. If you follow the recipe as it’s written you should have no problems:)
Can you use stevia for part of the sugar.
My Clear Jel was clumpy, so my first batch of pie filling had small hard lumps in it. I sifted the next time around, with much better results. I made one batch with fresh lemons and one with Realemon. The fresh batch was delicious; the other, less so. Thanks for this great recipe with its excellent instructions.
is the liquid clear gel thats used for making jam the same as the clear gel for pies? ive only been able to find jam one
I’m not sure I’ve seen Clear Jel for jam. Unless you’re talking about Sure Jell? And if so, no they’re not the same. Sure Jell is actually pectin for helping jam set, whereas Clear Jel is a modified corn starch that is used for thickening things like pie filling. Sure Jell would likely make your filling too thick and more like a jam than a pie filling. Clear Jel can be hard to find though so it’s not very well known. Here is where you can purchase Clear Jel online: Hoosier Hill Farm Clear Jel
Carnet foods also sells Ultra Gel and it’s amazing. That’s where I buy mine from. Also the nutmeg makes a HUGE difference, 1 tsp is the perfect amount
Can u use less clearjel if you want a softer set, we would use it more for over cake or on our dessert pizzas. Not sure why the berries need to be boiled. My husband was thinking more whole berry, not mushy?
Yes, you could use less Clearjel or even none at all and just thicken your pie filling when it comes out of the jar. If you omit it, fill to 1/2 inch headspace and then drain out 1/3 cup of liquid before adding thickener. As for boiling/blanching the blueberries, this is actually done to get the air out of the fruits as otherwise this can cause fruit to float to the top and can cause extra air to try to escape the jars while they’re being processed which can cause sticky liquid to pour out and over the rim preventing a seal. I don’t think the extra one minute of blanching makes them any more mushy than putting them in a boiling water bath for 30 minutes naturally will. They still maintain their shape:)
Is it safe to assume you process the same length of time for both the pints and quarts?
Yes, same processing time, however you’ll need to increase the processing time if you live more than 1,000 feet above sea level. I’ll make a note about that in the post.
I feel that you need to re-check number 10, as I feel you have a few items mixed up. Example #9 add lid, #10 submerged without lid. Some people may not know. But beside that I like the recipes and I am a first time user with clear-jel. Thank you for a different/better way of canning a pie mix.
I understand you are talking about the canner lid but some may not.
Hi Ken! I totally see what you’re saying! I will specify that I mean the canning lid. Thanks for the comment!
How many quarts does this recipe make ?
This recipe makes about 4 quarts or 8 pints.
Can I use frozen blueberries in this recipe
Yes you can!
Can a pressure cooker be used instead of a water bath? If so, at what pressure and for how long?
First off I’m assuming you mean a pressure canner, as you should never can in a pressure cooker. While you should be able to pressure can this recipe in theory, I haven’t been able to find a tested pressure canning recipe for pie filling so I would recommend sticking to water bath canning just to be on the safe side.
Does one quart make 2 pies?
In my experience, one quart will make one pie in a 9” pie plate.
Hi, did you use food coloring in your blueberry pie filling or did it turn out that color naturally.
No food colouring:) That is the natural colour. Blueberries can actually be used as a natural dye!
I bought from an Amish farmer in Lancaster pa. A quart jar of his canned blueberries. My question is; To make the blueberry pie. Do I drain any of the blueberry liquids . Or do I incorporate all in the pie. Canning the fruit is understanding. But do you use a regular recipe to make the pie. Is anything different. Is 4 tsp. Or 4 tablespoons used to make this pie. I would appreciate you telling me. Want to make this pie but, I don’t want to run it. I would appreciate you text me back. Thank you Judy
If you’re using canned pie filling you do not need to drain any liquid out. Just dump it right in your pie crust and you’re good to go! You can use a regular pie crust recipe (this is the one I use: https://thehouseandhomestead.com/easy-pie-purpose-pie-crust/). Just make your pie crust and dump the filling in and bake as normal! I’m not sure I understand what you mean when you ask about 4 tsp. vs. 4 Tbsp. Could you be more specific? I hope this helps. Let me know how it turns out!
What exactly is clear Helsinki and can I use anything else at all?
Clear Jel is a modified corn starch that is commonly used as a thickener in home canning recipes. It is the number one recommended thickening product for things like home-canned pie filling because it gels evenly, while flour and regular cornstarch tend to clump up and leave you with a lower quality final product. You can safely omit it and then add a thickener at the time of baking. I normally wouldn’t recommend a modified food product but it is the most highly recommended product in home canning today and it’s what I use in all of my pie fillings.
Thanks for sharing this fantastic recipe! I made a batch and had about 1/2 quart “leftover” that I made into a crumble. Delicious! I can’t wait to taste that fresh blueberry taste again this winter. Canning instructions worked perfectly for me! Now I plan to try some of your other canning recipes. Thanks so much!
That’s so awesome Emily! I’m glad you enjoyed it:) I often find I have “leftovers” from canning recipes, but I honestly never mind. I like having some to eat right away;)
We’ve been growing 12 varieties of organic fruits, berries, grapes etc for 33 years on an acre on edge of town as well as raising chickens for meat & eggs. I was a county fair & state fair competitor in home preservation then became a state fair judge & teach home preservation to new brides etc. I found new products about 15 yrs ago from the Amish community called ThermoFlo & PermaFlo. Superior consistency and best part they’re about half cost of Clear Jel. I’m not sure if you made differentiation between Clear Jel instant and Clear Jel cook in your post above but they’re different products. We use the cook variety in pie fillings. People new to canning aren’t always aware of the difference.
I’ve picked 36 gallons of blueberries so far this summer and 14gallons of raspberries and now our blackberries are coming on. Before the berries I put up our sour pie cherries & a gazillion red currants. I made jelly with the currants but also steamed a bunch and canned the juice to use in making red currant cordial which I’m doing today along with red raspberry cordial. I”ll use it in drinks like raspberry shrub this winter. Enjoy yourself.
I didn’t know about Clear Jel Instant. Thanks for clarifying! I will also look into ThermoFlo/PermaFlo. I hadn’t heard of these products either!
You’re a total inspiration! We are actually just moving to a new house and there is a huge red currant bush out front. I’ve never worked with them and don’t really need new jelly so I was thinking about either drying them to use in tea or juicing them. I love the idea of a red currant cordial! I think I’ll try that. Our raspberries are also coming on so I will keep the cordial idea in the back of my mind for sure. I made a juice concentrate with rhubarb this year that was amazing so I like that idea. Thanks for sharing!
Your gardening and canning are my goals! Are you in a gardening group where I can find you to ask questions?! Thank you!
Hi Anna! I don’t currently run a group page other than the pages for my paid courses, but you can find me on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/thehouseandhomestead or on Instagram (where I usually hang out) @thehouseandhomestead (https://www.instagram.com/thehouseandhomestead/)
Thanks for the link! Awesome post by the way!