canned pie filling with flour?

crazyweederAugust 5, 2010

Help! Yesterday I stupidly canned 7 quarts of peach pie filling using peaches, sugar, and FLOUR without doing research beforehand (I was using roughly the Ball Book recipe for frozen but then my husband talked me into canning it). Now all the recipes I see online call for special cornstarch.

I figured that I was not reducing acidity at all, and in fact was adding sugar which helps in preserving, so I was okay to do that. But I didn't take into account the flour, which I now read may thicken it so much as to interfere with the processing to kill bacteria.

To make 7 quarts I used 18 pounds of peaches, 5 cups sugar, and 1 short cup flour. Do I need to toss this? Am I okay? I can't freeze the jars because they would burst obviously.

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Linda_Lou(SW Wa.)

Sugar is not a preserving agent in pie filling. Only in jams with concentrations of about 65% sugar.

If you pop the tops of the jars and remove some, if done within 24 hours of the initial canning, you can freeze it. You don't even have any bottled lemon juice for safety for canning that pie filling.
Sorry, no flour, as you found out is safe to can other than a couple really acidic relishes. Even they are being changed to say to use Clear jel.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2010 at 1:30AM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

Well, you would reduce the acidity because flour is not an acid product. (The specific pH of flour would vary depending upon how it was aged, but 5.5 pH would be an average.)

However, it's unlikely that you added enough flour to raise the pH of peaches, which are quite acid, to an unsafe level.

I really don't see peach filling with flour thickening as a safety issue. I see it as a quality issue because the thickening impedes heat penetration and increases the likelihood of spoilage and/or reduces shelf life.

Also, I don't see any "safety" reason for the lemon juice. My assumption is that the lemon juice assists in color retention and perhaps piques the flavor of sometimes bland fruit.

I would do what's already recommended and remove the filling from the jars and freeze it. Not for safety but for most effective long-term storage. Do keep in mind, though, that under freezer conditions the flour thickening is likely to break. You may find it needful to add a little tapioca before baking.


    Bookmark   August 6, 2010 at 1:51AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

I can't freeze the jars because they would burst obviously.

You can remove some from the jars and freeze as suggested. OR you can open the jars and dump each into a freezer container and freeze. That way none is lost/wasted and you have no broken jars to worry about and you still have good peach pie filling that won't spoil and is safe to eat and of high quality (except maybe darker).

For future reference, you can make your pie fillings without any thickener (including the Clear Jel), can it and then just add the thickener prior to making the pie.


    Bookmark   August 6, 2010 at 9:24AM
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Thanks for the advice! Two more questions, since we have about 80 more lbs of peaches to put up:

1. I do pressure canning as well. Can I safely can peach pie filling with flour or regular corn starch in the pressure canner? With or without lemon juice?

2. If I do regular canned peaches, do they need to be in a syrup? Or could I can them in water and/or their own juice (either BWB or pressure)? They're just so sweet as they are...I hate to add more sugar than necessary, especially as my 2 young kids will eat them and I don't want them to think all fruit needs to be super sweet like syrupy canned stuff. In other words, what I'm asking is, is the syrup for flavor/looks, or is it for safety?


    Bookmark   August 8, 2010 at 11:16AM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

1. There are no tested times for pressure canning pie filling. Additionally, I don't think you'd be pleased with the results texture-wise.

2. Peaches are NOT a safety issue as they are an acid fruit. Therefore, sugar is not required for safety. Sugar assists in longevity. In other words, peaches in syrup retain their firmness and even color better. However, you can process peaches in water or juice, including their own juice or apple juice.

Depending on how picky your kids are or how you intend to serve them, don't depend on canned sugarless peaches to "hold" a full year on the shelf. They will get soft and even with acid, will brown at some point.

For the best balance of flavor, texture and color retention, freezing is probably your best bet.

Linda Lou has a lot of experience with sugar-free and low-sugar products. If she's on today she may have more insight.


    Bookmark   August 8, 2010 at 11:40AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

There is a recent discussion here on canning peaches in water and you will NOT be happy with the results. Even the apple juice and white grape juice canning gets very mixed reviews and is a waste of good peaches IMO.

There are many levels of sugar syrup. Consider the light or extra light but as Carol said you will lose storage time.


    Bookmark   August 8, 2010 at 11:58AM
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Linda_Lou(SW Wa.)

The flour is a safety issue, so is the added lemon juice.
The flour has too high of a ph level. Plus, with the added density of even Clear jel in the pie fillings the bottled lemon juice is added for safety.
You will see this is what is said at the Univ. of Georgia on the lemon juice :
The amount of lemon juice should not be altered, as it aids in controlling the safety and storage stability of the fillings.
Pie filling in the pressure canner will not be good, too soft.
The fruit canned in water or even juice is bland and the texture is soft and mushy. Canning them in a light syrup is much better. I do use a light syrup and if I have to I rinse it off before eating the fruit. I think you will be much happier with some sugar syrup. Also, if you will add Fruit Fresh to the syrup it will make a better product. It is just vitamin c and will only add some extra "c" to your diet as well as make your fruit nicer. It is on the bottle of Fruit Fresh as to the directions, but it is one tsp. per cup of syrup.

Here is a link that might be useful: Safety of pie fillings.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2010 at 1:44PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

I stand corrected on the lemon juice, Linda Lou. I expect it varies from fruit to fruit in the filling re the safety; however, I understand it isn't very efficient to develop individual recipes for every find of fruit filling. I will remember that line.

It's worth mentioning again that the recommendation to try one quart of filling and see how you like the taste and consistency is a good one. Many of us have found the level of ClearJel recommended is far too high. It's wasteful of the ClearJel and also complicates processing.


    Bookmark   August 8, 2010 at 2:19PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Many of us have found the level of ClearJel recommended is far too high. It's wasteful of the ClearJel and also complicates processing.

Agree strongly with Carol's comment. We gave up on Clear Jel after several tries and went back to canning our pie fillings with NO thickeners. We then add our desired thickener - cornstarch - at pie prep time. Much better results and a minor inconvenience.


    Bookmark   August 8, 2010 at 2:41PM
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I will let the experts talk about safety and technical issues but I am also putting up peaches as we speak. I got a few lugs of delicious peaches, very juicy and sweet on their own. I know most people don't have freezer space to spare but I will cast my vote for freezing. In the past few years I canned both in water and apple juice. I found the apple juice to be much superior as far as taste goes. I just prefer the freezer because of the way we use them. Of course, my kids are older and into smoothies and such. What I did this time was peel (used a boiling bath for a few seconds, literally no waste) then dunk into ice water. I cut these up, sprinkling fruit fresh (or lemon juice, vit c tabs, etc) and tossed. I packed them into snack bags which I then packaged in a gallon freezer bag. That way I can have a frozen treat or the fixins for a smoothie. I love the way the fruit fresh brings out a "tang" in the really sweet peaches. Just an idea and again noting that freezer space may be limited. Last year I also made up peach sauce which I canned. People made fun of me at work for my "baby food," LOL, but I loved it. They don't say anything about apple sauce, right? Good luck! Lori

    Bookmark   August 8, 2010 at 2:55PM
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readinglady(z8 OR)

I agree, Dave. I gave up on canning pie filling also.

The plain fruit is just more versatile without the thickener. I do add spices to my apples, but I haven't used ClearJel for a long time.


    Bookmark   August 8, 2010 at 3:13PM
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