This weekend I had a fun time making a couple of great items for the pantry. I started out wanting to can apples for apple pies. So I researched and found a simple recipe or two online and then worked it out to be what our family would enjoy. Most of the online recipes called for yellow food coloring – something I choose not to use. I purchased 28 pounds of Fuji apples. These are a nice sweet apple with great texture – bonus was the beautiful color they maintained through the canning process.
The recipe was a simple one so my husband and I worked as a team this time around. He sat and peeled all the apples and then used a handy apple slicer gadget that also cores them. All the slices were dropped into a large pot holding some water along with a healthy dose of Ball Fresh Fruit Protector to keep the apples from discoloring. Some folks use lemon juice (which works well) but I was going to be adding more lemon juice to the recipe.
Now before I give the recipe, I want to give you a warning/disclaimer. Many folks do not believe in using corn starch to can – because it thickens sauces, it is considered by many to be too dense a product to safely can (much like pumpkin is also thought of)—some folks therefore recommend using a product called Clear Jel which you find in some specialty grocery stores or online. Proceed with this understanding then that not all consider cornstarch safe! Do your own research on this!
21 qts, peeled cored apples (20 lbs approximately before)
13.5 cups sugar
3 cups cornstarch
30 cups water
9 tbspns. Lemon juice
6 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
3 tsp. salt
Mix everything except for lemon juice and apple slices in big pot. Bring to boil and then cook until thick and it bubbles. Turn off heat – add in lemon juice.
Pack apple slices into hot sterilized jars. Pour in syrup – leave a good inch of head space – DO NOT overfill or the jars will leak during processing and not seal! Make sure to remove air bubbles, wipe rims with hot cloth before putting on lids. Process in boiling water bath 10 minutes. Any leftover syrup can also be canned to use for pancakes and waffles!
Now before you rush out to make this – consider one of the basic rules – not to waste if we can use it! I now had lots of apple peels and cores from my 20+ pounds of apples. I put all of them in a big pot and covered with water – enough to cover by about 2 inches over the peels. And I boiled them awhile until I had a nice juice. I strained all the apple peels and cores and ended up with about nine to 12 cups of juice! For my next step I grabbed my Ball recipe books and compared to some other recipes for apple jelly. This was a first for me as I usually make jams and marmalades but had never done only a jelly. This turned out to be easier than I realized and something I will enjoy doing often! It seems a lot of folks online suggest simply buying juices to make their jelly instead of the original methods of boiling fruit and straining several times (the main reason I never attempted to make jelly!) I broke my juice down into two batches for ease in handling. For every cup of juice, I added ¾ cup of sugar. For every 2 cups of liquid I also added 1 tbspn. of lemon juice. Per the suggestion in the Ball recipes I also added a small bit of butter to prevent foaming but this is very optional. This was all brought to a boil – I used a jelly thermometer to test – it should reach approximately 220*. I tested the jelly by the spoon/ice method – a small amount of jelly on a spoon dipped to a bowl of ice to cool it rapidly. Tilting the spoon sideways, the jelly should “sheet” – sliding off the spoon, not running off. Then I filled my hot sterilized pint jars. Next rims were wiped down using a hot cloth before setting on lids and rings. As always the lids and rings are set in hot water while cooking jelly so they too are sterilized and ready to use. The hot water also aids in the lid rubber to seal properly. Process the jars in a hot water bath 10 minutes. Let jars cool. Jelly usually sets up fairly quickly but often can take a day or two to gel. Any jars that did not seal can be put in refrigerator to use immediately!
So now you realize you still have a pot of cooled down apple peels and cores left. What to do with them now? You could add them to that compost heap I’m sure you have for the garden but I chose to use them by feeding the cores to my rabbits and my chickens had a feast on the peels! See – I told you – prepping is supposed to be fun, not something to make you stress! But I do have one confession to make here. I do stress –because my family enjoys all this food so much that it seems I am working twice as hard to keep up with their favorites!!!!