I made apple jelly at the crack of dawn ... and by 9 AM I was snacking on sharp Cheddar, dollops of apple jelly and super crisp wheat crackers.
The jelly was really a snap to make. I used this big bowl of bad ass -looking apples off of my neighbor's apple tree. I think Jeff said they're Northern Spies, but I'll have to get back to you on that one. Anyway, Jeff doesn't spray pesticides on his trees, so the apples are all warty looking and dotted with tiny black dots, and raised crusty 'whatevers'. One would normally pass them right on by, but they are mild flavoured and white fleshed under all that ugliness, and they're full of pectin. So, when he asked if I'd like to try cooking with some, I said a batch of apple jelly would be just the ticket.
I picked 8 pounds, washed them good, chopped the stems and flower ends off and then made big chunks of the rest of the flesh. The skin and cores stay in. You just chop the whole apple up. Throw the apple chunks in a big stockpot with about 10 cups of water and bring the pot to a boil. Simmer the pot lightly covered for about 15 minutes. Place a big colander that you have lined with several layers of cheesecloth over a large bowl and ladle the soft apple mess and all the liquids in. Cover it with a piece of plastic wrap and walk away. Don't touch the apples for about six hours - I did this part of the recipe last evening and left the whole mess over night. This is so easy. You should do it too ... really! I got the idea from David Lebovitz ... only he didn't put cinnamon in his jelly ... or pectin. I bumped the pectin because I didn't want to stand around boiling the jelly down further and further and further ... I'm lazy. What can I say?
Anyway, this morning, I dumped the apple mash out in the compost, took the crystal clear and strangely thick juice that dripped through the cheesecloth and poured it into my deep stockpot, added sugar, lemon juice, Calvados brandy, and a few pinches of cinnamon. Then, I brought the pot to a rolling boil, added a packet of Certo pectin, and boiled it again, ladled the jelly into sterilized jars, tightened on the rings and lids, and boiled the jars in a sterilizing bath for ten minutes. Voila! Jelly to have all winter, share with the neighbors, and donate to the little church's holiday fair!
Here's the recipe that I used ... go for it!
Apple Cinnamon Jelly
Apple Mash Ingredients:
8 lbs. apple chunks
10 c. water
Making the Mash:
- Wash the apples well and trim off the stem ends and the blossom ends.
- Chop the apples - skin, core and all into chunks.
- Throw the chunks into a deep stockpot with the water.
- Bring the pot to a boil, stirring the apple chunks down in, as the water gets hot.
- When the pot boils, cover loosely, lower the heat to a simmer and cook the apples for about 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile line a large colander with several layers of cheesecloth. Place the colander over a large mixing bowl that will take at least 12 cups of liquid.
- Using a ladle, spoon the apple mash into the colander, BEING CAREFUL NOT TO PUSH DOWN ON THE MASH. This is important, as the pressure of pushing down on the mash will send small apple particles through the cheesecloth and make the juice cloudy. That means the jelly will be cloudy and Martha Stewart would be appalled … and we wouldn’t want that would we? NO!
- Once the apple mash is all piled up in the colander, take a long knife and make an ‘X’ across the top of the mound. Use the knife to part the apple mash so you can drizzle the liquid in the bottom of the mash pot down into the apple mash.
- Then, cover the mash with plastic wrap and leave the whole mess overnight (or for at least six hours).
- The next morning, carefully lift the colander off the drip bowl and dispose of the apple mash (pigs and chickens love it … and so do mice, chipmunks, wild turkeys and deer). We put ours on the compost for any and all takers.
- Look at the clear juice in the drip bowl! Time to make jelly!
NOTE: Pay attention to the size of your colander and the bowl that will contain the dripping juices. The colander should fit into the top of the bowl, but not sit so low that the juice can’t drip freely and stay clear of the bottom of the colander.
5 c. prepared apple juice
7 ½ c. sugar
1 ½ tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp. Calvados brandy
Two generous pinches cinnamon
- Wash and sterilize enough jelly jars to can 10 cups of jelly. Some people wash them in their dishwashers, but I hand wash and boil them (on a rack) in my large canning pan.
- Place the rings and lids in a pan of water and simmer to keep them hot.
- Place all the jelly ingredients in a deep stockpot and bring everything to a rolling boil, stirring frequently and keeping an eye on the boil. Boil the jelly for three minutes.
- Add 1 sleeve of liquid Certo pectin, stirring it in well. Return the jelly to a boil and time the boil for 2 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and let the jelly settle. Carefully skim the foam from the top surface.
- Ladle the jelly into the sterilized jars, put on the lids, screw down the rings, and return the jars to the boiling water in the canning pan.
- Bring the water back to a boil and time the boil for ten minutes.
- Remove the jelly to a clean towel lined place on the counter top. Dry off the lids and watch to make sure all the lids ‘pop’, which indicates that they have sealed tightly.
- Let the jelly cool before storing on your pantry shelves. Double check the seals and use any that have not sealed first. Keep jelly refrigerated after opening.
NOTE: If any of these directions confuse you, I would suggest getting a book on canning and doing a good read OR take a hands-on lesson from someone in your neighborhood who knows what they’re doing. We all learn differently and it’s pretty important to be safe when you’re doing any canning and preserving.