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Because the liquid is so full of apple flavor, I usually cook it down into a caramel and put it into the pie filling.

I'm not sure this is good or even if I should be macerating my apples at all. I originally started macerating to stop the pie filling from sinking, leaving a space in between the filling and my top crust. Is there a better way to accomplish this?

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Could you please describe your maceration process? –  KatieK Nov 22 '12 at 5:09
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2 Answers

On Serious Eats, Kenji Alt recommends precooking your apples (by a quick microwave or hot water bath) to set the pectin and prevent shrinking:

http://sweets.seriouseats.com/2011/10/the-food-labs-apple-pie-part-2-how-to-make-perfect-apple-pie-filling.html

Kenji is my favorite active practical food scientist, and a former recipe developer for Cooks Illustrated.

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I lightly sautee my apples in butter - does the same thing and adds butter! –  ElendilTheTall Nov 22 '12 at 11:08
    
All the methods discussed here sound pretty good, depending on exactly the type of pie that you want. –  SAJ14SAJ Nov 22 '12 at 11:38
    
Thanks SAJ14SAJ. I'm going to give this method a try this morning. I hadn't heard of Kenji (Harold McGee is my goto food scientist), but I liked what I read enough to give it a go. –  Jason S. Nov 22 '12 at 11:47
    
Yeah, On Food and Science is fantastic. –  SAJ14SAJ Nov 22 '12 at 11:51
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You can let freshly sliced apples and sugar sit in a colander over a container for 3 hours. Mix the drained liquid to a boil and add some cornstarch or tapioca starch and bring that to a boil. Once boiling, add the remainder of the sugar and starch called for by your recipe and bring it to boil a second time. Allow this to cool, and then pour it into your pie-crust - over your apples - and bake as normal.

This procedure pulls the liquid out of the apples, concentrates the flavor in extracted juice, and then preserves the shape of the fruit during baking. It also reduces the chance of your pie boiling over during baking, and prevents empty space inside the pie under the crust.

Source: BakeWise, Shirley O. Corriher

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Katie, this is pretty close to the method I usually use. It's good, but what i always seem to end up with after all that boiling is caramel. There is nothing wrong with that, but I want to try something differnent –  Jason S. Nov 22 '12 at 11:49
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