Recipe for freezing apples as pie filling
September 29, 2020 9:33 AM   Subscribe

Does anyone have a dependable recipe to process a lot of apples into pie filling, which we then freeze? The spices and sugars might vary from our preference, but the big question is: Do you cook it or not?

My wife is an excellent baker, but she's not feeling the desire to make all those crusts this week. :7) And now we have a bushel to make into something before they go bad!

Being able to freeze the filling would save half of the work on future baking days, and I expect that frozen bricks of filling will be more durable than already-baked pies (which have a tendency to get smushed in the chest freezer).

Thanks, and happy autumn!
posted by wenestvedt to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The "do you cook it" question might depend on the type of apple pie you want. Some folks like gooey apple pie filling, in which case yes, you definitely cook it (apples, sugar, water, etc) down into the apple goo before you freeze it. I have done this and it works very well later, although there will be some water/syrup that releases in the thawing process that you might want to pour off before it goes into the pie crust, to avoid soggy crust.

Other apple pies are less about the goo and more about the sliced apples themselves... if that is your preferred style, I'm not sure whether you'd cook them first or not. Hopefully someone else with experience on that kind of pie can weigh in.
posted by somanyamys at 9:50 AM on September 29, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: With most apples, if you cook them before you freeze, when you cook it again you will have applesauce. Just peel and cut up the apples, toss them with the sugar and spices, and freeze them in bags. You'll need to suck all the air out, which is easily done like so.

Do not use glass jars or other rigid containers, the air spaces will cause freezer burn.
posted by ananci at 9:53 AM on September 29, 2020 [4 favorites]

If you're using a thickener, you'll want one that is freezer tolerant, like Clear-Jel Instant.
posted by zamboni at 9:53 AM on September 29, 2020

wenestvedt, you don't have a canning set up do you? I've canned apple pie filling with terrific results. (Or maybe cook and store in Mason jars in the freezer?)
posted by MonkeyToes at 10:01 AM on September 29, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Expertise on freezing apples from The National Center for Home Food Preservation:

Freezing Apples

Preparation – Syrup Pack is preferred for apples to be used for uncooked desserts or fruit cocktail. A sugar or dry pack is good for pie making.

Select full-flavored apples that are crisp and firm, not mealy in texture. Wash, peel and core. Slice medium apples into twelfths, large ones into sixteenths.

Syrup Pack – Use cold 40 percent syrup. To prevent browning, add 1/2 teaspoon (1500 mg) ascorbic acid to each quart of syrup.

Slice apples directly into syrup in container starting with 1/2 cup syrup to a pint container. Press fruit down in containers and add enough syrup to cover. Leave headspace. Place a small piece of crumpled water-resistant paper on top to hold fruit down. Seal and freeze.

Sugar Pack – To prevent darkening, dissolve 1/2 teaspoon (1500 mg) ascorbic acid in 3 tablespoons water. Sprinkle over the fruit. Or, apple slices can be steam blanched for 11/2 to 2 minutes.

Mix 1/2 cup sugar with 1 quart (1 1/4 pounds) of fruit. Pack apples into containers and press fruit down, leaving headspace. Seal and freeze.

Dry Pack – Follow the directions for Sugar Pack, omitting the sugar. Treated apple slices can also be frozen first on a tray and then packed into containers as soon as they are frozen. For more information, see other unsweetened packs.
posted by MonkeyToes at 10:11 AM on September 29, 2020 [6 favorites]

I have done apple pie filling in Freezer-safe glass mason jars. The thing is that the largest common size of freezer jar is pints, so you need two jars per pie.

basically, you just cook the filling until it thickens, and then put it in your container and freeze.

you can use flour or cornstarch.

I did not have issues with freezer burn even after losing some in the bottom of the freezer for a few years.

the problem with traditional canning is that lids are not available right now. you can find some flats of jars which come with lids and rings though.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 10:15 AM on September 29, 2020 [1 favorite]

I know it's not what you asked, but one of my favorite memories was a year that we got a bumper crop of apples and made more pies than I would have thought was possible from a single tree. Processing the apples was super time consuming, but we eventually hooked up a drill to the apple peeler in place of the hand crank, and it was super fast and fun.

The apple peel shot feet up in the air, it was an amazing sight.
posted by Nodecam at 10:22 AM on September 29, 2020 [6 favorites]

Best answer: I worked with a woman who said she froze her uncooked apple pie filling in lined pie pans. Once frozen she could reclaim the pans and store pie-shaped frozen disks to drop into her pastry whenever. She mentioned this every year we worked together as apple season would come around, so I presume it works. Disclaimer: I have never tried it. She was a good cook, though.
posted by probably not that Karen Blair at 10:29 AM on September 29, 2020 [11 favorites]

I've used this recipe with good success.

I've also just thrown whole apples into the freezer & for processing later on when I had time. Just freeze on a cookie sheet then throw in a bag when frozen so you can pull them out one by one & defrost slowly in the fridge for pies, or if making sauce or apple butter you can defrost in hot water as texture is less of an issue. Hint skin comes off super easy if you just run under hot water for a second while still frozen to defrost just the skin.

Thing to remember if making pie filling ahead, freezing can make the spices less strong when defrosted, so you may want to wait until just before making to add spices to make sure they're how you like them.
posted by wwax at 11:12 AM on September 29, 2020 [2 favorites]

Weighing in as someone who generally likes my apple pies on the less gooey side, I usually slice and dry pack peeled raw apple slices for freezing rather than making filling ahead of time. Compared to syrup packing, you get more consistent results across apple varieties. Unless I were making pies with only firm winter apple varieties, I'd vote against cooking the filling first.

As wwax points out, freezing will change the flavour profile of your pie filling a bit, as will having to mess around with de-liquifying thawed pie filling.
posted by blerghamot at 11:42 AM on September 29, 2020 [1 favorite]

I was coming in to suggest what probably not that Karen Blair suggested above, with the added incentive that Alton Brown recommends it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:49 AM on September 29, 2020

Best answer: I generally prefreeze apple pie filing in gallon sized ziploc bags- if you don't have a ton of liquid in your piefilling, sometimes the filling doesn't really form a pie-disk, so I mostly just use the pie dish to measure out the filling into pie amounts.

I mix roughly chopped apples with sugar, spices (sage! ginger! all the variations!) and melted butter mixed with a bit of cornstarch, and freeze, but I prefer my apple pies a bit firmer, and I find the freeze/thaw cycle basically breaks them down a bit.

To cook frozen pie filling, I either run the ziploc under running water until thawed enough to dump out into the tin, but I don't fully defrost them.
posted by larthegreat at 11:58 AM on September 29, 2020 [1 favorite]

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