Monday, September 13, 2010

Apple Pie Filling

Lisa B. asked me about my recipes for my apple pie filling and applesauce. Today I started on the apples, but I only did one cooler full, as I have company coming for dinner tonight and much to do. So today's focus was on apple pie filling. I plan to do applesauce tomorrow and I will try to pay attention to my recipe, as I just make it....I don't follow a specific format. :-)

My apple pie filling is a bit unorthodox from what I can tell in looking at other recipes for filling. It was borne from trial and error, and it just works for me! A few years ago, I had apples from my brother's tree and I was making full apple pies, par-baking them, and freezing them for later. I got so tired of the process that I decided to try freezing a pie WITHOUT the par-baking step. I made the crust, formed the pie, wrapped it in foil, and popped it into the freezer, totally raw.

About a month later, I decided to try one of my un-cooked creations. I pulled it from the freezer and allowed it to thaw, then dabbed on a bit of butter, sliding it under the slits in the crust, and popped it into the oven. To my delight, it worked perfectly! The texture was just fine and the pie tasted wonderful...I couldn't really tell a difference between the pies I froze uncooked and the ones where I began the cooking process prior to freezing.

After this discovery, I took the pie-making process a step simpler. I made up the filling as if to put it into a crust, but then I put it in a ziploc bag instead. This way I could just make the dough and form the pie at the time I wanted to make it, which made the process longer at the actual baking stage, but so much easier on the front end doing the preparation. Since I had a LOT of apples, simplifying the prep made the most sense. As a result, I had apples that I used both for pie filling and for "fried" apples at dinner. I would simply remove a bag of pie filling, thaw it, and put it in a microwave-safe container (typically a Pyrex 8 cup glass measure). About 8 minutes on high and I had a great side dish that the kids loved and that tasted like I had just peeled them.

So, now that you have background on my out-of-the-ordinary freezer apple pie filling, here is how I do it now:

Into a gallon-size freezer bag, place the following: 1/2 c. sugar, 1/4 c. flour, 1 t. cinnamon, 1/2 t. nutmeg, and a pinch of salt. Shake lightly to combine.
Pour in 8 cups of peeled and sliced apples and seal the bag. Shake and toss to combine and evenly coat the apple slices.
Open the bag to release the air and re-seal the bag.
Freeze until ready to use.

To make the pie, thaw the filling. Lay bottom crust in pie plate, then fill with bag of filling. Dot with a couple of tablespoons of butter. Top with either a second crust or a struesel topping. Place in oven and bake at 425° for about 45 minutes, covering the edges of the crust if needed to prevent over-browning.

If you're interested, I've finished the round cooler of apples, and I have 8 gallon bags of apple pie filling in the freezer as I type. That's enough for now. Tomorrow I will focus on applesauce, and decide whether I want to freeze it or can it - I'm still not sure. Then I will make apple butter and see where I am. If I still have apples left, then I will make more pie filling. It's Apple Week at my house! :-) Happy autumn!!!!

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