So if you are a regular reader of this blog (or even a sometimes reader) you probably have ascertained that I love making jelly, jams and pickling pretty much everything. It’s something that I’ve really gotten into since moving back to the States. There’s something so satisfying about taking one thing and transforming it into something completely different. Plus I love the idea of taking something that you may feel is unedible (a pear that is simply too mushy and overripe to enjoy) and making it into something that is delicious over a piece of toast, or drizzled over top of a fresh galette. It’s also nice to explain to Zara how and why this happens, and to have her taste and help along the way. She’s gone from sort of stirring the ingredients, to cooking things all on her own. In two short years she’s become a fantastic cook! (and an award winning one too!)
So, unsurprisingly today I bring you…jelly. I don’t often make jelly because it involves an extra step to strain out the bits of fruit (and I actually really like fruit pieces on my toast). But for some reason I draw the line at apples. I can’t stand the consistency of cooked apples. Weird, I know, very un-American (I don’t like apple pie!!!) but the apple is something I really only like ‘raw’.
We bought an incredible amount of apples two weeks ago. I actually don’t remember why. I think I picked out one kind, Z picked out another, I got distracted by B and bought both. We ate apples all week and…still had a ton of apples left over…then no one wanted apples with their meals…and they sat…and became rather sad.
While thinking about what to make for dinner or snack or whatever food I was planning (because I’m always planning on something edible) I looked at our sad apples and decided they needed to be used. Right away. But, I couldn’t face having bits of apple on my toast, so I decided I would MAKE apple juice. Unsweetened and take it from there. Would it become jelly? Would it become popsicles? I wasn’t sure. Transforming apples to juice is not that hard, it takes patience, but not all that much. Hey, I did it with a 7 month old on my hip (Z was at school) and I told myself it was because I was explaining the process to him, but really, it was because he wanted nothing to do with his walker.
To make apple juice, you peel all the apples, cut them up into chunky slices and add everything except the peel (so core and seeds) to a pot. Depending on the amount of apples (I used 10 large) you will need to add anywhere from 1/2 cup to a cup of water. I started with 1/2 cup and then ended up adding another 1/2 later.
Boil for about 30 minutes, stirring every so often to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom. When the apples start to turn to the consistency of applesauce, you are done. Next, strain all the apple bits so that you are just left with the juice. It you want perfectly clear juice, this is a step that will take 8 hours or overnight as you should let all the solids strain in a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth themselves. If you are like me, and lack patience AND you like cloudy juice, press the apple bits until you’ve gotten most of the juice out. You can save the apple leftovers and make something delicious, but I didn’t this time. I took it out back and gave it to the birds (it’s winter after all).
I sealed up this juice and put it in the fridge, to decide what to do with it.
Jelly. My old standby. It’s just so easy, and it keeps so much longer than anything else I make and it doesn’t take up room in my fridge. I can use it to trade for eggs, or give it as a gift, or use it for a host gift. Really the possibilities are relatively endless.
This is what you’ll need; (Makes 4-8oz jelly jars)
Apple juice. My juicing yielded 5 cups of cloudy juice (which was delicious by the way, although Z thought it needed sugar)
3 1/3 cups sugar (seems like a lot I know, but it is part of what makes the jelly solidify naturally)
2 large lemons, juiced
4 -8oz jelly jars, sanitized
3 ingredient jelly, pretty great huh?
Add the juice and the sugar to a low saucepan. Stir the sugar until it is incorporated into the juice. Add squeezed lemons, stir and then turn on heat to medium-low. Stir frequently to make sure sugar is melting into the juice. When mixture comes to a boil, let boil for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to just above low. At this point in time place a glass or ceramic plate in the freezer. Cook mixture for an additional 10 minutes then test the consistency of jelly. To do this, take cold plate out of freezer and add a dollop of jelly onto plate. Let set for 1 minute. If jelly jiggles but doesn’t slide it is done. If it still slides, clean off plate put back in freezer and cook for another 10 minutes retesting each 10 minutes until it sets. My jelly is typically done after 10-20 minutes depending on the fruit.
Add your jelly to your mason jars seal and then add to a water bath for 5 minutes.
I listened to Serial while doing this and got through 2 episodes. Wow is that podcast addictive.