Everyone likes pie. Custard pies, French style tarts, diner style meringue topped ones, pumpkin, the variety goes on and on. The number one type of pie for me is fruit pie. Aside from ice cream I can think of no better summer time indulgence. The main reason that I don’t make pies more often is because of how many steps that are required. Preparing the crust, preparing the filling. These each often take overnight, minimum since I chill my crust for at least 8 hours prior to using. Then you have to roll out the dough, chill the pie, bake the pie, cool the pie. It’s kind of a hassle to be honest. The amount of work is easy, it’s the forethought that’s a pain in the ass. Despite my hyper tendency to prepare things and store them I like to have the freedom to just “whip up” something from time to time. Maybe I’m lazy, sick, or have unexpected guests coming by. Thats where home canned pie filling comes in. There will be an upcoming post on safe canning procedures in the upcoming couple of weeks. What I really want to focus on today however is the peach pie filling.
As I mentioned before I almost always have a double batch of pie dough in my freezer. This can thaw on the counter in 20 minutes. Whenever I am making cookies, pizza dough, or the like in my food processor I quickly throw in a batch of pie dough, saving me from having to pull out and clean the food processor on a separate occasion. I will be posting about pie dough most likely sometime next week, as I used my last batch for this pie.
This recipe makes about six quart jars of pie filling (remember that’s six pies anytime you want ’em). You can substitute ClearJel for the cornstarch but I didn’t have any around.
You’ll need: A large 5-quart pot, ice, large bowls to hold the peaches, canning equipment, and six quart canning jars with new lids.
The recipe is largely influenced by Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry, merely adjusted to my preferences.
1/4 cup lemon juice
18 pounds freestone peaches (about 36 medium sized peaches, fragrant but not bruised or soft)
1.5 tablespoons fresh ground cinnamon
3 teaspoons ground ginger
1.5 cups apple juice or water if you want to lower the sweetness
2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
2.5 cups white sugar or sugar in the raw
3/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1.5 cups cornstarch (or ClearJel)
2 tablespoons of heavy cream
To prepare the peaches for the filling:
- Bring a large pot of water to boil. Fill a large bowl with cold water and add the quarter cup of lemon juice. Fill either another large bowl or your sink with ice water.
- Rinse and lightly score each peach with an “X” on the bottom.
- Blanch the peaches in batches of 3-5 at a time for 30 to 60 seconds and immediately dunk blanched peaches into the prepared ice water. Allow the pot of water to return to a boil in between batches. Once peaches are cool enough to touch peel them, halve and core them, and slice them into 8 slices each. Maintain the slices in the lemon water. The acidity will help to prevent browning and keep the peaches that sunny happy color until next peach season. Do not throw away the skins and pits! The pits are extremely useful (when used with caution) and the peels and pits can be used together to make jelly.
- Prepare your jars and waterbath for canning.
- In a large heavy bottomed pot (I cleaned and used the same one I blanched peaches in) whisk together your spices, apple juice, sugar, lemon juice, and cornstarch. Whisk thoroughly until no clumps remain. Drain the peaches. Bring the sugar spice mixture to a full boil on medium high heat and cook for a solid 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Lower the heat to medium and add the peaches. Stir often and bring the entire mixture to a full boil that does not subside with stirring and cook for another minute. Turn off the heat and set aside.
- Fill your prepared jars leaving an inch of headspace. Make sure to wipe the rims of the jars clean using a damp paper towel. Attach the lids and rings, finger tighten, and place in your water bath.
- Process for 30 minutes in boiling water that covers the jars. If you water loses its boil when you add the jars start the 30 minute timer once the water returns to a boil. It must boil for the entire half hour. After the 30 minutes is up turn off the heat and allow the jars to remain in the water without moving for at least 10 minutes. Allow to cool overnight before storing.
To bake off your pie all you need is a double batch of pie crust and a jar of filling.
- Roll out half of your crust to a circle that is about 13″ across. Place this in the bottom of a 9″ pie pan. Prick the crust with the tongs of a fork, this allows steam to escape and provides a more even crust. Fill this crust with a jar of your canned filling. Roll out the remaining dough to a 13″ circle and place on top of the filling. Crimp or fork seal the two layers of pie dough together, creating a seal. Brush the center of the top crust with the heavy cream, taking care to avoid the edges as this may cause them to burn. Cut small slits into the top of the pie crust. Place pie in freezer for 1 hour.
- Place a baking tray that you don’t mind warping on the bottom of your oven and preheat your oven to 425°F after the pie has been chilling for 30 minutes.
- Bake your pie directly on to the tray on the bottom of the oven at 425°F for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350° and bake for 30 minutes. At this point check to se if your crust is getting too brown. If so gently cover the pie with aluminum foil and bake for another 15 minutes until the peach filling is bubbling out of the slits and possibly even the sides of the pie. You need the interior to seem alive to know you’ve cooked out enough moisture.
- Allow the pie to cool for at least 45 minutes to an hour before serving.