A documentation of my preservation and preparation of local foods as I work through the seasons. This will serve as a reference tool for me in the future and as a sharing guide for family and friends...and anyone else interested. Hopefully, I can offer some useful methods, tips and recipes to share with everyone--be they novice or pro--and encourage them to join me in the exciting world of preserving and cooking with local foods.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Apple Jelly

Spotted a bushel basket of Dolgo crab apples while at the farm last week.  They are what my grandmother referred to as her "jelly apples".  My memory was immediately transported back to my grandpa's apple orchard and grandma's beautiful jelly-apple tree--a small tree with branches drooping to the ground and laden with hundreds of tiny bright red fruit.  I also recalled the small canning jars of bright red jelly and the sweet apple flavor inside them.  The first thing I did after work was to check my canning book to see how many pounds I would need for a batch of jelly.  This is the easiest jelly I've ever made.  The fruit it so small, it doesn't need to be cut up and this variety has so much natural pectin, it doesn't need added pectin.  The recipe follows below the picture.
The fruit and the "fruit of my labor"!
Note:  When you put the jelly juice on the stove to cook, you may want to begin sterilizing the jars by putting 6 half-pint jars in a pan of water.  Bring to boil and boil for 10 min.  You can use the canning rack to keep the jars off the bottom of the pot.
Apple Jelly (makes 6 half-pints)
4.5 pounds of Dolgo crab apples
4 cups sugar (approx)
--Wash and pull stems from apples. 
Following are both the steamer/juicer method (if you have one) or, if you don't have one, the pot-on-the-stove method.
Steamer-Juicer Method:  This is the easiest if you have a steamer/juicer.  Just put in the pot, turn on the heat and collect the juice from the apples.  You may refrigerate it at this point if you do not want to make jelly right away.  Otherwise, put it in a pot on the stove, add the sugar and bring to boil.  Continue boiling, stirring constantly, until jelly "sheets" off of spoon when you tip it sideways with a spoonful of jelly on it.  Fill hot, sterilized jars; add lids and bands.  Process in boiling water bath for 5 min.
Pot Method:  Put in pot with water to cover (about 5 cups).  Cook on high heat to boiling, then turn down to simmer.  When apples start to crack or burst, mash a bit with potato masher.  Continue cooking until apples are soft (20-25 min).  Strain apples and juice into another pot by using a dampened jelly bag, or line a strainer with 3-4 layers of dampened cheesecloth.  Let drip several hours to extract juice.  Do not squeeze or mash apples as that will make the jelly cloudy.  After extracting juice, measure it (you should have approx. 4 cups).  Add juice and equal amount of sugar in deep cooking pot.  Boil mixture, stirring often, until jelly "sheets" off spoon.  (Instead of drips, jelly falls from spoon in sheets.)  Skim foam from top of jelly.  Pour into hot, sterilized jars.  Put lids and screw bands on.  Process in boiling water bath 5 min. 

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