Thursday, 28 January 2010

Making apple jelly


Apple jellies sound complicated but they aren't.  They are a bit time consuming but it is that sort of time where you just have to be around for a bit, not necessarily paying it very much attention.  So if you can just give it a little time, during most of which you don’t need to pay your jelly any attention at all, here is how to make an apple jelly. The only thing you need which you may have to buy is muslin, either in a ready made bag (Lakeland do one) or as a length of material to make your own. You will also need four or five empty jam jars with screw lids.  I use a preserving pan but a large pan of any kind will do fine.






Jellies are easy, no peeling or lengthy preparation, and they produce jewel coloured jars which shine on your shelves and which can be used to accompany meats (apple and mint jelly with lamb, apple and sage with pork), to add depth of flavour to stews (quince jelly in beef casseroles or in gravy) or to have on bread or toast like jam.
Start with a couple of kilos of apples, cooking apples or eaters, it makes no difference. Chop off any bits which are badly bruised. You don’t need to peel or core them. Chop them in half and then in half again and put them in a large pan. Add about a litre and a half of water.


This is the basic recipe for starting off an apple jelly. In the autumn I might make jellies with other herbs but by late January many herbs have disappeared or become so tatty and sad they are best left alone until spring.  Today I decided to use a pot of mint which I had been keeping alive on the kitchen windowsill.

To the apple and water mix add a large handful of mint leaves.  Simmer this until the apples are soft and mushy. Depending on the kind of apples you are using and the state they are in whey they go into the pan, this will take from half an hour to an hour or so. Just stir them from time to time to see if they are collapsing.

When they are soft turn off the heat and put them into a muslin bag suspended over a pan. I have a butcher’s block with a shelf on the bottom which works well for this but traditionally you could upturn a stool.
Transfer the pulp to the muslin bag using a jug or a large ladle. When I do this I hold the jug or ladle over a bowl to stop the apple puree dripping everywhere. Leave the puree to drip over the pan. Giving this process time is all that matters. Don’t squeeze the bag, don’t poke or prod. Just let it drip slowly and gently for at least twelve hours and up to twenty four. If you squeeze the bag at all the resulting jelly will be cloudy and will not give you the jewel bright clarity which will glow in its jar and cheer up the darkest day.

When the muslin bag has stopped dripping it is time to for the next stage. Pour the clear juice into a measuring jug. For every 600ml of juice add 400g of sugar, ordinary granulated is fine.
Bring the mixture slowly to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add 100ml of cider vinegar.  When the sugar is dissolved turn up the heat and let the liquid boil hard for ten minutes or so. If any scum comes to the surface take it off with a slotted spoon.

While this is happening put yesterday’s newspaper onto the shelf of an oven at its lowest possible setting. Stand the clean empty jars on the paper and set the oven timer for ten minutes. Put a small plate in the fridge.

Turn off the oven, take the liquid off the heat and test for setting. You do this by dropping a teaspoon of the hot liquid onto the cold plate you have taken from the fridge. Put it back in for a minute and then test for setting by pushing the liquid with the tip of your finger. If it wrinkles when you push it, it is ready. If not, put the liquid back onto the heat and boil again for a few more minutes. Then test again. How long it takes to get to setting point depends on the kind of apples you are using.  Sometimes it will set quite quickly, sometimes it might take as long as an hour's boiling.  It will happen if you boil it hard enough for long enough so don't give up and put it in jars too early!

When your teaspoon of liquid is wrinkling under your finger, pour the jelly into jars and screw on the tops. Sometimes there is a little bit of scum on the surface, and if so you can just skim it off with a spoon either before or after you put it into the jars. I sometimes add fresh herbs at this point, partly because it looks pretty  but I had used all the mint today.  Leave it to set. It will take a couple of hours, until the jars are completely cold. When they are cold label them with the contents and the date. A beautiful handwritten label looks good, or if you are like me and have illegible handwriting, print computer produced ones. Store. Eat with roast lamb or cold meat. Feel like a domestic goddess.






37 comments:

  1. Your apple jelly looks gorgeous. I made some crab apple jelly one year - we had had a real glut of crab apples. Lovely lemony bittersweet taste. I found a recipe in an old cookery book purchased from a car boot.

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  2. Quick query - you say 600l to which you add 400g of sugar (at least that's what it looks like to me). 600 litres? Obviously not - or am I reading it wrong or summink?

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  3. you can add some cider or wine vinegar or even wine at the end to take the sweetness off for a more savoury jelly. Looks lovely Em!

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  4. My OH has just made some apple and quince jelly. It's lovely in my cheese sandwiches.

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  5. Apple Jelly, Marmelade, Brandied Clementines.....from blogs alone I'll be standing over a hot stove all weekend long!
    Seriously - this looks delicious and I do have apples leftover from the fall, so maybe this will be a solution to the glut - we can only eat so much apple sauce!

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  6. Crabapple jelly is definitely the most divine thing to put on a freshly-baked muffin or a piece of toast. I fear I might never have any ever again unless I find a crabapple tree here that I can steal fruit from. Your apple jelly looks fabulous. Crystal clear. Maybe I should give that a try... Thanks for all that work you put into letting us know how to make it!

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  7. Thanks Mrs J - you are quite right, 600ml. Will go back and change it.

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  8. Your jellies are beautiful - like amber. This sounds rather easy and you're right, I thought it would be complicated and labour intensive. Many thanks for this recipe Elizabeth - I will be bookmarking it.

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  9. Lovely. A little bit of the not-quite cool jelly on rice pudding is also delicious!

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  10. sbs - I have added the vinegar now. I do use it in apple and herb jellies generally and not in things like apple and cinnamon (which you could do with this recipe by leaving out the herbs and vinegar and adding cinnamon sticks to the apples as they cook).

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  11. Will come back to this post again. Have been looking at the Lakeland catalogue for a couple of weeks or so persuading myself that I need a preserving pan. I am going to get into a pickle this year:)

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  12. The filled jars are so pretty! I would leave them out just to gaze at their prettiness.

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  13. What a job. I am mad about that pot. The jelly looks beautiful
    I thought it was honey at first glance..


    yvonne

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  14. Two questions for you,
    First if I read this right you do not put the jars into a canning kettle to process the jars,is that right.This is something I have been seeing on blogs from outside of the states.Could you clue me in on this?
    Here's my email if that would be easier, hrafinstaaddotaoldotcom
    Second I am interested in the Lakeland catalog how do I find them?
    Thanks
    Rois

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  15. Rois - I can help a little here. Over here in the UK we don't do 'canning' as such by putting jars and such back into the preserving pan and boiling the air out. We make sure the jars are sterilised and still warm when we pour in the contents, make sure they're full, often put a waxed disc on the top and screw the lid on tight. Secondly, the lakeland stuff can be found here - http://www.lakeland.co.uk/

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  16. Thanks for clearing up the liquid measurement - I didn't even think it would be millilitres - I'm SUCH a cotton-headed ninnymuggins at times...

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  17. Thanks for the post Elizabeth I shall be looking at using up quite a few of the apples that are ripening on the tree at the moment, so it was a timely post. The jars of jewelled goodness look so pretty sitting on the bench.
    Mrs Jones -cotton headed ninnymuggins, never heard that one before, it did make me smile and I shall file it away in my memory bank as no doubt I shall be able to use it!!

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  18. Those jars are just like jewels with the light through them. You should be justifiably proud of them - the jelly is beautifully clear.

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  19. I adore apple jelly, especially crabapple jelly. It's so pink and delicious.

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  20. those jars are, indeed, beautiful. when i read your blog i crave the time to do things like make jelly and cook slow-braised dinners and tend a gorgeous garden.... but then i wonder if i am too impatient for all that and only like those things in theory and from a distance.

    i guess i will have to wait until i retire (or get laid off) to find out.

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  21. Thank you Mrs Jones, I kept reading little snips about canning in the UK and your reply has cleared things up for me.

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  22. excellent stuff, your apple jelly.
    I shall have to get down to some gooseberry jam making; last year's gooseberries take up far too much room in my freezer.
    Thank your for calling me 'a friend'. Feels good.

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  23. Ah laurie - it is all just to do with timing! I always liked this kind of stuff but never had time before even to blow my nose. Give me another year or so and I might not be doing it but I do love to know how to do something like this and to produce something which my mother and grandmother would have made. I would really hate to see this sort of knowledge die. And I do love the whole, slow, sweet smelling process.

    Have a go.

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  24. apple jelly....memories of penniless days and making our own from the windfalls and peelings
    my ( now grown up)children adore apple jelly and happily spin off into recollections given half a chance!

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  25. So - you don't have to add gelatin or something to make it gel up? It does it all on its own? Really??? How cool is THAT? I always thought you had to add something to make it stay firm. Hmph. Shows what I know.

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  26. So very pretty ! It's very comforting somehow to read of these delicacies still being made and enjoyed .

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  27. Those jars of apple jelly look so beautiful. I have never made jam or jellies, perhaps one day...

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  28. Mmmm... your kitchen must have smelled heavenly!

    Love your blog! Perfect pick-me-up~
    Hope your day is wonderful!
    Michelle

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  29. Mega-header and inspiring colour of amber.

    I wish I had time to set aside for this. I used to make a lot of jam and marmalade. It is on my list of things to get back to one day.

    You advise us to be patient and give the jelly time to get to setting point. I suffer from the opposite temptation. I'm never sure it's really ready so I leave it and leave it - and end up with chewy jam. Visitors pull their teeth apart and comment on the interesting texture.

    Esther

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  30. Thanks for all your comments! It is amazing that it just sets and that you get such a colour. I also love the fact that you can tweak it from savoury with herbs and vinegar to sweet with cinnamon or spice.
    And yes Esther, I have made the far too bouncy stuff too!

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  31. Those jars look so beautiful! I wish I had room to do this sort of thing.

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  32. It looks simply gorgeous! Charlie and I make crab apply jellies in the autumn all lovely and pink. We cheat a bit with a marvellous Scandanavian contraption and when I can find out what it is called I will tell you - no muslins involved but there again that may take something away from the romance of it all...

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  33. They look very jewl-like don't they? Gorgeous.

    And I'm so glad you've had a go at pages - what did you think of the process? I'm having real problems with the formatting, so have given up for a while. Malvernmeet has seen to that!

    My first couple are at the bottom of the left hand sidebar awaiting the time I pick them up again...

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  34. Looks good Elizabeth. I discovered a great trick this year for fruits that don't set brilliantly (ie are low in pectin). At the stewing stage, add a handful of frozen gooseberries. They don't affect the taste but you get the best set ever.

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  35. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I will do this! I need to work on my domestic goddess standing. Dx

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  36. I LOVE apple jelly. My mom's was always pinky-red. Yours is such a gorgeous honey color! Looks delicious.

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