My apple jelly is a little different to the usual kind. Neither NAH or I are particularly big on jellies or chutneys accompanying our meat, fish or cheese*, which is the traditional way of eating them. Also when I chose my apple trees, I went for the dessert varieties as that's what we like to eat. So my apple jelly is used like jam: on bread and often accompanying peanut butter.
All the recipes I have are for a savoury jelly, often flavoured with herbs such as mint or rosemary. They usually call for cooking or crab apples and so need quite a lot of sugar to sweeten them and to counteract the recipe's vinegar.
Therefore I've adapted the recipe in my trusty Good Housekeeping Cookery Book using my dessert apple windfalls, no vinegar or herbs and less sugar - I've found about 75% of the amount given in the recipe works fine.
Apple jelly is perfect for using up windfalls quickly as long as any damaged portions of the fruit are excluded. As the apples don't need to be peeled - they just need de-stalking and chopping up first - it's a good way of using any smaller fruit which would be fiddly to use in other recipes.
My Court of Wick tree has yielded dozens of perfectly good small fruit this year, so quite a few of my jars of apple jelly are single variety - that's rather trendy and posh!
This recipe is easily adaptable for the amount of fruit you have to hand, limited only by the size of your pan, bowl and jelly bag or muslin.
- 5lb apples - washed, de-stalked and any bad parts removed
- 2 pints water
- Sugar - I find granulated is fine, though others recommend the qualities of jam sugar for reduced cooking times and ensuring a good set
- Add the water to a very large pan (a preserving pan or pressure cooker sized) and start to slowly bring to the boil
- Meanwhile chop the apples and add to the warming water (this ensures no apples turn brown whilst waiting for the others to be chopped)
- When all the apples have been added to the pan, crush them down lightly with e.g. a potato masher to ensure they're covered with water and to start releasing their juice
- Bring to the boil and then simmer for 45 minutes until the apples have turned to a pulp
- Turn off the heat
- Set up a jelly or muslin bag over a large bowl (see picture) next to the pan of apples
- Ladle the apples into the jelly bag - if your jelly bag is like mine you'll have to carefully hold it in place for the first couple of ladles to stop it from springing off the bowl. After that, the weight of the apples will hold it in place
- If needed, press down gently on the apples as you go, so they all fit into the jelly bag
- Leave the apples to drain into the bowl overnight
- Next day, remove the bag and wash it; and compost the apple solids or leave them outside for the birds
- Switch the oven on to its lowest setting and place your jars and lids inside so they can be sterilised whilst making the jelly
- Measure the juice into a large, clean pan and add 12oz sugar for each pint of liquid obtained
- Stir to dissolve the sugar and bring the liquid to a rolling boil
- Continue to boil for 25-30 minutes or until set point** is reached
- Pot the jelly into the warmed jars and cover. A ladle and jam funnel make this part of the process a lot less messy!
- Store in a dark cool place, though it's ready for eating straight away :)
Makes 3-5 jars depending on how juicy the apples are.
* = though I'm very fond of piccalilli, especially the way my nan used to serve it with home made fish cakes and pickled beetroot when I was little
** = Set point is reached when a little jelly spread on a cold plate - e.g. put in the fridge for the purpose - and left for a minute wrinkles when pushed with a finger. The liquid will also drop off a spoon in little jagged flakes instead of drops when set point is reached