Thursday, December 6, 2012

Apple Cider Jelly

Jelly. When most cooks think of making jelly, they envision a long process of boiling fruit and dripping it through a jelly bag for hours on end. While I'm all for traditional methods, sometimes we just don't have enough time to do things the old fashioned way. By using pectin, this jelly is lightning fast to make and will save you loads of time. 

While in college, living in Massachusetts, every fall a group of us would take a bus to Keown Orchards to go apple picking. Last year I shared my recipe for spiced apple butter, which was inspired by those lovely apple picking adventures at Keown Orchard's and their delicious jams, jellies, and fruit butters. However, if you're feeling crunched for time this holiday season, apple cider jelly is much faster to make than apple butter and you still get that same appley goodness. Apple butter or jelly make great edible gifts for the holidays!

The secret to this jelly is using the best apple cider you can get your hands on. For me, that means moseying on over to my local farmer's market and picking up a jug of freshly made cider. One of my favorite ciders comes from Terhune Orchards, in Salt Point, NY. If you live in NYC, you've likely seen them at your local farmer's market, as they've been coming to greenmarkets in the city for over 30 years. The use of unfiltered apple cider will make a cloudier jelly, but I find it's much more flavorful. There's nothing quite like a morning started out with buttered toast slathered in apple cider jelly!

A quick side note: if you live in the midwest or northeast, you may have noticed many apple products going up in price, especially at farmer's markets. This was a very bad year for apple growers, with many farmers in the New York state area losing nearly 90% of their apple crops. Unseasonably warm weather early in the season, followed by a severe frost, hail storms, and drought have had a devastating effect on these farmers' income. Keep them in your thoughts this holiday season and let's all hope for a bountiful apple harvest next year! 

Adapted from Pamona's Pectin pamphlet & Lucy Baker, Serious Eats

1/2 tsp. whole cloves
1/2 tsp. allspice berries
1 cinnamon stick
4 cups unfiltered apple cider
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 cups granulated sugar (or substitute with 1/2 to 1 1/3 cups honey)
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 package Pamona's Universal Pectin (see notes below)
Spice bag

Fill the spice bag with cloves, allspice, and cinnamon stick. 

In a large pot or Dutch oven, combine the apple cider and lemon juice and stir to combine. Stir in 4 tsp. calcium water, then add the spice bag. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. 

Meanwhile, in a small mixing bowl, combine the granulated sugar (or honey) with 4 tsp. pectin powder. Whisk to combine. 

Once the cider mixture begins to boil, add the sugar and pectin mixture and stir vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes to dissolve the pectin. Return the mixture to a boil and stir in the brown sugar. Allow the mixture to return to a boil once more and remove from heat. 

Ladle the jelly into hot, clean jars, leaving a headspace of ¼-inch (don't worry if the jelly begins to congeal a bit, this is normal). Wipe rims and apply lids and rings. Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water-bath canner (for 4 oz. jelly jars or 8 oz. half pint jars). Turn off heat and let jars sit in canner for 3 to 5 minutes before removing. Allow jars to rest on a dishtowel undisturbed for 6 to 8 hours or overnight. Check seals, label, and store in a cool dark place for up to a year. If any jars did not seal properly, place them in the fridge and use first. For more information, see my step-by-step guide to canning here.

  • Each box of Pamona's Pectin will include a packet of pectin powder and calcium powder. This recipe calls for 4 tsp. of calcium water and 4 tsp. of pectin powder. To make the calcium water, combine 1/2 tsp. calcium powder with 1/2 cup of water in a small jar with a lid and shake to combine (refer to Pamona's Pectin pamphlet for more information).
  • You can find Pamona's Pectin at well-stocked grocery stores such as Whole Foods. You can also purchase it on the world wide web here.

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