Canning Strawberry Pie Filling: a How-To
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Aldi had some great berries this past week, and at under a dollar a pound? I had to take advantage of that sale! They were perfectly sweet, a deep beautiful red, and merely begging me to take them home. So, I purchased 15 packages and then got to work on canning strawberry pie filling.
Let’s talk about Clear Jel. It is the “upgraded” cornstarch that is USDA approved for use as a thickening agent when you are canning. Almost every recipe you find on the internet for canning strawberry pie filling, or any other kind of pie filling, uses it. If Clear Jel isn’t listed, it might be an older recipe that uses boxed Strawberry Jell-O. I didn’t really want to add those extra chemicals into my bounty – after all, that is why I can: to feed my family the healthier food.
That took me back to Grandma’s file box – recipes that she used for dozens of years to keep the root cellar full of amazing gems that helped feed the family in the middle of winter or during tougher times. Tougher times were when things were harder to find, or there was a bad growing season. Kind of like the corn crops this year – most of the Midwest is way behind on corn growth and height so the potential yield, or harvest, is looking bleak. Since corn and corn byproducts are in about seventy percent of what is in the grocery stores, I expect prices to jump more than they already have.
That sucks, right? That is why I have been canning and dehydrating all that I can get my hands on right now – like these strawberries that were under my target price for produce. Ten years ago, I shot for under a dollar a pound for fresh produce in season. I have still managed to find great deals on fresh fruits and veggies at those prices yet today. Produce other than the standard bananas, potatoes, and onions. These are always under a buck a pound – even at places like Quik Trip.
Let’s get back to that Strawberry Pie Filling. Grandma didn’t have Clear Jel. Grandma DID have cornstarch. While cornstarch may break down a little and make your finished item seem to get a little cloudier, it will still look and taste amazing if you use it in less than a year. The taste doesn’t change much past that, but the bright shiny color gets that slightly cloudy appearance.
Keep in mind, this is NOT a current USDA recommended recipe, but one of my families. Use it at your own risk and enjoyment. I have found that a few of these classic recipes really makes for a great way to prepare for future emergencies like I do on Bug Out With Dannelle.
How to make Canned Strawberry Pie Filling
You will need:
- 10 pounds washed, sliced strawberries
- 4 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 cup Cornstarch
- 10 cups water
- 3Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp salt
- Red food coloring*
Prepare your strawberries and set aside. That means to wash them, trim off the tops, and remove any thick cores. If the berries are unusually large, cut them into smaller pieces.
Combine sugar, cornstarch, water, lemon juice, and salt in a large pot. Bring to a boil on medium heat. Stir frequently, or it’ll stick to your pan! *If you want to make your pie filling gel redder, add a few drops of the food coloring. This is totally optional but might make a prettier final product that what I did.
Add strawberries to your hot and prepped quart-sized jars, then add syrup – leaving 1.5-inch headspace. I know it seems like an ample space, but the gel will expand a little during your processing time. Load them into your rack and water bath for 20 minutes.
When you remove them, listen for that magical sound of the “ping” to tell you that they have sealed.
Now, how do you make a pie from your freshly canned strawberry pie filling? First of all, bake off a pie crust and let it cool. Open a jar of your canned strawberry pie filling and pour it into that cooled shell.
Now you top those canned strawberries with whipped cream or Cool Whip. You are ready to slice and serve your hard work to share with friends and family.