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  • Writer's pictureCrazy Jar Lady

Four and Twenty

Nothing pisses me off faster than opening an expensive can of pie filling to find that it's mostly goop and not very much fruit! I've been known to buy a gallon can of peach pie filling and scoop out the fruit to make pies with and just add the amount of goop I want. (Extra goop makes excellent ham glaze.) Pie filling is sooooo easy to make!

As you know, I'm not an all-natural or organic-ingredient-only type cook. I can't afford it and I can't stand to waste food. I cook as much food from scratch as possible just so we know what we are eating. I no longer trust food labels and what "they" say is in commercial products. I source ingredients where I am able and we grow quite a bit ourselves.

That being said, TWO one-gallon cans of diced pears and a gallon can of sliced peaches ended up in my pantry. I stared at them and wondered what to do with them for quite some time. I simply cannot use up a gallon can of fruit for 2 people before it goes bad. Inspiration hit while I was avoiding doing paperwork over the weekend. Why couldn't I make pie filling using pre-canned fruit? I was determined to find out if it would work.

I dug out my usual apple pie filling recipe. I didn't want to throw out the syrup that the fruit was packed in, there's flavor and sugar in that. Using the label on the back, I calculated how much sugar was approximately in the entire can. Then I used that syrup in place of the water and reduced the white sugar in the recipe by 1 cup to account for the sweet syrup. I opened the cans and drained the fruit, reserving the syrup. One batch of goop covered 2 gallons of diced pears perfectly. The can of peaches, I supplemented with some 15 oz cans I had on hand and made a second batch of goop to cover those using the peach syrup.

Now you have a sticky mess on your hands. How to pack this in the jars and not end up with jars of just goop? I tried both ways. I placed a little bit of goop in the bottom of the jars, added some fruit and some goop and some fruit until the jar was full. It was easy to layer the diced pears into the jars and mix with the goop inside the jar. For the second batch, I mixed the fruit with the goop and then packed it into the jars. I ended up with more goop in the jars than I wanted but that might be me just being picky. The peach slices didn't really want to mix well inside the jars and benefitted from being pre-mixed with the goop before packing.

This recipe can also be used to make goop for peeled, diced, raw pears or apples. The raw fruit floats in the goop during the canning process but the end product is very nice and makes great pie. Remember.... Don't Look!

Let's talk about thickeners. Margaret says you can't use cornstarch in canning anymore.... Poo on that. Clear Jel and Therm Flo are both cornstarches! Using Clear Jel will give you a nice, commercial style product with no cloudiness. The measurement of how much Clear Jel to use is different than the cup of cornstarch listed in this recipe, follow the directions on your package of Clear Jel. I didn't have any Clear Jel. I went ahead and used the Therm Flo I had on hand and used the full 1 cup measure. It worked perfectly to thicken up the goop. Regular everyday cornstarch works just fine to thicken this pie filling. It ends up a bit cloudy, but honestly, does anyone check through your pie to see if the filling is cloudy? No they don't, they are excited about pie and eat it right up. Can away and use whichever cornstarch you have on hand.

This goop is heavily seasoned. Adjust the seasonings however you would like. If you don't want a heavy flavored pie, just use some cinnamon. You could also make the goop without any seasonings at all. OR, you could make the goop using all white sugar and omit the brown sugar. This recipe would work fine for cherries with whatever seasonings you choose and some red food coloring.... I made some pear pie filling last year and added some vanilla; the pear crisp I made with it was fantastic! Use your imagination!

LEAVE A HEALTHY ONE TO 1.5 INCH HEADSPACE. This shit grows while it cooks during the canning process!

Jars of just leftover goop can also be canned using the same processing times.

NOTE: It takes 1 quart and 1 pint of pie filling to fill a 9 inch pie. I suggest canning both pints and quarts (or all pints if you don't mind using the lids) just for this reason!

Anyway.... If you have some canned fruit on the shelf and have no idea what to use it for, give it a whirl for pie filling and save the money on the commercial cans of goop. Happy Canning!

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