Apple jelly

When we moved into our house there were a small little apple tree one corner of the garden. The first year we lived there it produced about three apples. Fast forward eight years and the tree hasn’t grown much {it keeps getting battered it in the wind and seems to have decided it’s safer to hide behind the fence}, the crop on the other hand has increased tremendously – this year we got about three large bowlfuls!  IMG_2806_small

After a few apple crumbles I started thinking about what else I could use all the apples for. They were a bit tart so the kids weren’t keen on just eating them, however I remember having bought some lovely apple jelly a few years ago.  A quick google came up with several good recipes, in the end I settled for one by David Lebovitz.

When making jelly you need a jelly strainer, to strain the fruit juices from the fruit pulp. I was only able to find a jelly strainer bag and not a stand, which the bag is usually attached to and placed on top of a bowl. The instructions for the strainer bag did suggest attaching a hook underneath a shelf to hang the bag from. Our kitchen cabinets are ridiculously low though, and I didn’t fancy attaching a hook to them, so I improvised and stuck a wooden spoon between the handles of two of the cabinets and hung the bag from it – it worked a treat!

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If you can’t find a strainer bag, a clean muslin or tea towel can be used – one site recommended sterilising it by ironing it then lining a mesh sieve or just tie the ends into a knot and find a way of hanging it – do note that the apple pulp tends to be quite heavy, so it needs to be hung from something that can carry the weight.

Apple jelly

Apple jelly

Ingredients
2 kg apples
900g sugar
1 lemon, juice only
water to cover the apples

Method 
1) Rinse the apples and cut them into chunks, removing any bruised bits. There is no need to peel them first, or to remove the pips – just add it all to a large stock pot {I ended up having to use the two largest pots I had, neither which are proper stock pots, as I had so many apples}
2) Cover the apples with water, cover and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, leave the lid askew, or take it off, and simmer the apples for about 30 minutes, until they are soft.
3) Place the jelly strainer over a large bowl and ladle the apple and liquid into the jelly bag. Most recipes recommend to leave overnight or at least 3 hours. I left mine for about 3 hours and by the end of that time there was no more liquid coming though. It’s important to NOT try to push the fruit down to extract more juice as this will result in a cloudy jelly.
4) Measure out the strained liquid and add 150g sugar per 250ml juice. Add the juice, sugar and lemon juice to a pot and bring to a boil. I found that jelly takes a lot longer to set than jam – some more lemon juice would possibly have helped it set faster, but I only had one lemon at the time. The jelly should set at 104C however, at this point mine was still a runny mess. About half an hour later {at least!} and after about a third of the liquid had reduced mine finally set. David Lebovitz mentions his took time to set as well, his didn’t didn’t set until at 110C, and although mine started setting at 108C I left it to 110C just to be sure it wouldn’t be too loose.
If you don’t have a candy or digital thermometer, spoon a little bit onto a chilled saucer {I kept a few in the freezer while I was making the jelly to keep them chilled}. Return the saucer to the freezer for a minute or so and then run a finger gently through the jelly – if it wrinkles it’s set and is ready to pour into jars,  skiming away any white scum that rises to the surface beforehand. {I found it easiest to do this once I had taken the saucepan off the heat}
5) Make sure you have sterilised you jars by washing them in hot soapy water, rinse with hot water then place in a low oven (about 100C) to dry and sterilise. Take one jar out of the oven at the time when you are ready to add the jelly to them.
6) Ladle the jelly into jars and screw the lids on tightly. I ended up with 5.5 jars of varying sizes, the largest ones probably held approximately 300ml.

The jelly is lovely with pork, as an alternative to the traditional apple sauce, or with cheese and biscuits.

Apple and jelly

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