Weekend Food Prep: Homemade Canned Blueberry Pie Filling and Topping

It’s Thanksgiving week here in the US, and in celebration, I’m sharing some of my most popular recipes!

We are enjoying the end of the local blueberry harvest this week, and this is a wonderful way to extend the joy into the fall and winter. (If you’re a regular reader, you’ve already heard me extol the virtues of Oregon strawberries!) I will pick a few flats of berries, eat plenty of them fresh, freeze some for smoothies and muffins and such, and make the rest into a batch or two of these blueberry preserves. This recipe is based upon Linda Zeidrich’s excellent recipe here for marionberry pie filling. These blueberries can absolutely be used to make blueberry pie, but I admit, they mostly become oatmeal or pancake topping in my house! I like to make enough for gifting over the holidays, and a friend of mine always requests a few jars as cheesecake topping for her Christmas dessert.

Blueberry Pie Filling and Topping

This comes together very quickly. Have your boiling water canner hot and ready to use and your jars cleaned and heated before you begin.

one. Pick over and lightly rinse, if needed:
10 pints fresh blueberries

two. Place berries in a large bowl. Add
zest of one orange

three. Whisk together in a large sauce pan until fully combined:
3 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup cook-type Clear jel (1)

four. Stir in the sugar mixture to until fully incorporated:
The juice of one orange plus enough blueberry juice (I use Knudson Just Blueberry Juice) to make 2 1/4 cups liquid(2)
1/4 cup bottled lemon juice(3)

five. Turn the burner to medium and bring everything to a boil, stirring occasionally at first and then constantly as it begins to thicken on the bottom. As soon as it comes to a boil, you will find it becomes a thick, clear mass.

six. Take it off the heat and stir together with the berries. It will seem very thick, but when you process it, the blueberries release juices and will help with the final consistency.

seven. Pack into clean, heated quart size canning jars. Carefully pack them down and remove bubbles. Leave 1 inch of headspace (the clear jel expands when heated and will fall back down again as it cools). Process for 30 minutes.

Yields 5-6 quarts

Photo description: An opened quart jar of dark purple blueberry pie filling, with about 1/2 cup of filling removed. It is sitting on a white counter.

(1) Clear jel is a type of cornstarch that does not break down and lose it’s thickening properties from heating and reheating. Do not substitute another thickener, as it will result in runny filling that will not hold its shape. This is the kind I use. (This link will send you to Amazon, but I don’t make any money off of it.)

(2) A couple years ago, I was lucky enough to find some blackberry wine at a local farm stand. I used it in place of the blueberry juice, and the resulting preserves were especially luscious! I strongly recommend the substitution, if you come across some blackberry wine.

(3) Bottled lemon juice has a standardized acidity, ensuring that your final product will be acidic enough to stay safe.

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