For those of you keeping score, this is my second time canning, and my first time making jelly. I’m absolutely loving this food blog; it gives me an excuse to try things. Even things that are daunting. Canning is one of them. I was scared out of my wits at first. There’s a lot of faith involved: that your jars are sterilized enough (is there even such a thing as being sterilized a little?), that whatever you’re canning cooks, is pickled or preserved correctly (in this case, will the jelly gel?), and that the top will pop like it’s supposed to during the sealing process. (This part is particularly scary.)
Guess what? It all worked out! I don’t know if I was lucky or if I was worrying needlessly. At any rate, I feel much more confident in the art of canning and see much more of it in my future.
Apple Cinnamon Jelly (adapted from this recipe)
- 3-4 pounds apples (I had about 10 small-medium apples)
- 1 lemon
- Sugar, 1 1/2 to 2 cups per pint of cooked apple juice
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 mason jars
Rinse the apples and quarter them. You don’t need to peel or core them because you’ll be straining all the fruit later. Rinse the lemon and cut it in half.
Put the apples, lemon and the cinnamon stick in a large pot and cover with water. Cover with a lid, bring to a boil and let it go for about 45 minutes to an hour. I let mine cook closer to an hour.
To strain the fruit, line a sieve with a cheesecloth, a piece of muslin or just a paper towel and place over another large pot. Pour the contents of the first pot into the sieve and let all the juice drain. Let it strain for about 8 hours up to overnight. You can gently stir the fruit to get more juice out, but DO NOT press the fruit. Apparently that will result in cloudy jelly, and you want it nice and clear.
Right before the apple juice is all strained, I would go ahead and sterilize your jars. Place the jars and lids in boiling water for 10 minutes. (If you are at an altitude of 1000 feet or more, add 1 minute of sterilizing time for each 1000 feet of altitude). Let them fully dry out while you continue working on the jelly.
I know my juice looks pretty cloudy now, but after the boiling step it will clear up.
Put your pot of juice on the stove and add the sugar. The recipe I used said that I needed to add two cups of sugar per pint of liquid. I had two pints of juice so I added four cups of sugar. Next time, I would add a tad less sugar, maybe more like 1 1/2 or 1 3/4 cups per pint. The end product was just a little sweet for my taste.
Dissolve the sugar over medium heat. Turn up the heat to high and bring to a rolling boil – that is actively boiling but not rising up the pot. After about 15 minutes, test the jelly to see if it sets by spooning a small amount on a cold plate. It’s done if it wrinkles to the touch after a few minutes. If it doesn’t wrinkle, continue boiling a few more minutes and keep trying it out on a cold plate.
In the mean time, and if your jars aren’t warm anymore, place the empty jars in a warm oven to get them ready for the hot jelly.
When the jelly has set, pour into the warm jars, leaving a little space at the top and put the lids on. Submerge them in another pot of boiling water for 10 minutes. (If you are at an altitude of 1000 feet or more, add 1 minute for each 1000 feet of altitude.)
Then take them out and let them cool for 24 hours (not in the fridge) before opening again.
I realized that canning and preserving food (and food-like things like jelly) is such a good idea because you can can food at the peak of its season and then eat it later in the year when that food is not available – or just won’t taste as good that time of year. (Obviously this is why people canned food in the first place, but I don’t think many people do this anymore.) You can open up a jar of summer in winter or a jar of autumn in summer. It’s a special treat you can look forward to later. And one of the only ways to get around eating seasonally.
The apples and cinnamon together transported me back to the holiday season, one of my favorite times of the year. I’m always so sad when it’s over and I have to endure January and February before spring comes. This jelly just made that weird in-between-winter-and-spring time more endurable.