4 August 2014
With the early start to spring we enjoyed this year we are in for a good apple harvest this year and the branches are already bending under the weight of the apples – but they are not ripe for picking yet. Should you lose a branch or two of apples due to breakage do not despair – and rescue the apples whatever you do!
Green (as in unripe) apples are packed full of pectin – perfect for jellying up all manner of preserves, or just to enjoy as apple jelly itself.
– Pick over your batch of rescued apples, discarding anything dodgy or damaged.
– Cut the apples into bite-sized pieces (no need to peel or core them), place in a saucepan and cover with an equal quantity of water (i.e. 1 kg apple pieces:1 litre of water). Unripe apples do not yet have much juice of their own so you need the water to get the pectin out of them – if you are using ripe, juicy apples then reduce the water quantity by about half.
– Boil the apple pieces in the water until soft, mushy and falling apart.
– Remove from the heat and leave to strain through a jelly bag (or a sieve lined with a clean cloth) into a large bowl or clean saucepan overnight.
– Discard the apple pulp and measure out the strained liquid. Place in a saucepan with an equal volume of sugar i.e. 1 kg of sugar to 1 litre of juice. If that sounds like a lot of sugar for your taste you can scale down to 750 g sugar per litre of juice but do not go much below that otherwise you are going to comprise the set and the preservative function that comes from the sugar. * This is the point at which to add any flavourings – see below.
– Stir over a medium heat until the sugar has dissolved and then bring to a rolling boil for 20 to 30 minutes until setting point is reached (to test: drip a few drops onto a cold saucer, allow to cool, push the drops with your finger – if they wrinkle you have reached setting point. If not, keep boiling and test again).
– Pour into hot, sterilised jars, seal immediately and store in a cool, dark place.
Apple jelly keeps almost indefinitely and can be used as a source of pectin for other jams and jellies, or enjoyed on its own.
* You might want to consider adding some flavourings and give away jars as gifts:
– apple with ginger – add a couple of pieces (according to taste) of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped to the strained juice and leave the ginger pieces in the jelly when you bottle it.
– apple with orange – add a quantity (according to taste) of grated orange zest to the strained juice and leave in the jelly when you bottle it.
– apple with vanilla – add a vanilla pod to the strained juice and leave in during boiling. Remove the pod just at the end of the boiling and add a teaspoon or two (according to taste and quantity of jelly) of powdered vanilla to the jelly before bottling.
I also add a piece of star anise to a couple of my jars (works with all of the flavourings above) to keep aside as Christmas presents…