Apple Jelly [recipe]

A couple weeks ago I was given a 25 lb bag of apples, and thus began a week long of baking, cooking, and juicing. I like to use up all the slightly bruised fruits first as they won’t last. Pick out all the perfect apple (firm and unbruised), store them in a paper bag in the fridge, they will stay fresh and crisp for a few weeks.

Apple Jelly _ Apples

After making a couple liters of mulled apple cider and baked two batches of apple hand pies, I still had about 12 pounds of fruit left! I was also getting tired of all the peeling and coring…Thank goodness this recipe came to the rescue! No need to peel, just dice up the apple, throw everything including the seeds and core into the pot of water and boil away but do discard parts that show signs of rotting and worm infestation. Easy peasy! After straining to get all the juice out, don’t throw away the mushy apple chunks, run them through a ricer and you’ll get a nice apple sauce which can be incorporated into baked goods, soups, topping for pork chops, oatmeal, or plain as a healthy snack. I like to freeze the apple sauce in ice cube form or in ziploc bag (1 cup per bag).
apple jelly_apple

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Apple Jelly

Recipe from David Lebovitz (I reduced the ingredients by half)

Yields three 1-cup jars

The guidelines I used were from the National Center for Food Preservation, and said to cook the apple jelly to 220ºF (104ºC), which will be the setting point, but I ended up cooking mine further. So it’s best to test your jelly by dropping a dab on a chilled plate, putting it in the freezer for a few minutes, then checking to see if the mixture has jelled by nudging it with your finger and seeing if it mounds and wrinkles. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, you can use this method to test your jelly.

One pound (450 g) of apples cooked will yield about 1 cup (250 ml) strained juice from the cooked apples. So if you have less apples, or you get a different yield (since all apples are different), you can use that as a guideline and add 3/4 cup (150 g) sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoons of lemon juice per cup of strained apple juice.

  • 4 pounds of apple
  • 5 cups water
  • 3 cup sugar
  • 1/8 cup (2 Tbsp) lemon juice
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon Calvados, brandy, or Cognac

1. Rinse the apples and cut them coarsely into chunks, then put them and the cores and seeds, into a very large stockpot.

2. Add the water, cover, and bring to a boil. When bubbling, reduce the heat a bit, leave the lid askew, and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, until the apples are tender and cooked through.

3. Line a mesh colander with a piece of muslin cloth or a few folds of cheesecloth (or use a jelly bag and stand) and set it over a deep bowl, then ladle the apples and the liquid into the colanders. (I used two lined colanders since it was quite a bit of apples.)

4. Let stand overnight (or at least three hours), and no matter how tempting, do not press down at any time on the apples to extract more juice or the jelly will get cloudy.

5. The next day, measure out the juice. You should have 4 cups. Pour it into a stockpot fitted with a candy thermometer, add the sugar and lemon juice, and bring to a boil. During cooking, if any white scum rises to the surface, skim it off.

6. Cook until the temperature reaches 220ºF (104ºC). At that point, turn off the heat and begin testing the jelly on a chilled plate in the freezer, using the method mentioned in the headnote. When it wrinkles and holds its shape, it’s done. If not, continue to cook and re-test it at intervals.

7. Remove from heat, stir in the liquor, and ladle into clean jars, then cap tightly.

Storage: I don’t preserve my jelly or jams in heat-treated jars because I eat them quickly, but store mine in the refrigerator where they’ll keep for several months. If you wish to preserve them, you can find instructions for canning at the University of Georgia website.

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apple jelly_straining
apple jelly_boiling

Some notes from me:

    • My first attempt- used 8 lb as noted in the recipe, and it was way too much apple, my largest stockpot barely fit them all, I had to keep a watchful eye to make sure the water didn’t boil over. And because of that, I might have strained the liquid too early, and with not enough pectin extracted into the liquid, ultimately causing the jelly not gelling correctly. Mr. Lebovitz noted in the recipe that his batch of jelly set at 230F instead of 220F. My first batch didn’t set, at all. It took forever to reach 220F and wouldn’t go higher than 223F. I finally gave up and just poured them into the mason jars. After chilling, the consistency was like a liquidy syrup. I looked online for some solution to allow the syrup to gel without adding pectin. I followed the instructions here and added a couple thinly sliced apples to the syrup, reboiled them back up to 220F. Still didn’t set. But this time, the temperature easily raised up to 230F. I could tell the jelly still wasn’t going to set but the syrup was significantly thicker and the color was getting darker due to the caramelization of the sugar. I took the syrup off the heat and re-jared them, and after chilling in the fridge, the consistency turned from liquid syrup to a honey-like viscosity, and still VERY tasty. The bottom line is, if your jelly didn’t set, don’t be discoraged. Use them as syrup to flavor your tea or cocktail. It was still amazing on toasts!
    • My second attempt- cut the recipe in half to 4 lbs of apples and let them boil in water for almost 30 minutes. The jelly set beautifully at 220F! I could tell when it was boiling and bubbling that it already looked very different from the first batch. After pouring the syrup into the mason jars, I could see the surface of the jelly was doing that giggly thing like jello.

apple jelly_jars

  • Instead of using a chilled plate, I put a spoon in a glass of water with ice cubes. To test to see if the jelly is set, I simply drop a couple drops of syrup onto the ice cold spoon, a set jelly will gel almost instantly.

Peanut Butter and Apple Jelly on Toast

Happiness is: Homemade nut butter and homemade apple jelly on toast for breakfast 🙂

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