...if you have a backyard and a kitchen, this blog might be for you!

a chronicle of tips and recipes on everything from gardening to canning and baking your produce, even if you're planted in suburbia...in fact, especially if you are planted in suburbia.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Apples Aplenty

Apples aplenty! That's what you realize you have, when 20 minutes of work in the orchard becomes 20 hours of work in the kitchen. So many choices for things to do if you picked a versatile variety!

Today I'm taking one more look at jelly-making; this time, using the no-sugar-added pectin option. With especially sweet fruit, you can save on calories by making these jellies. Or, if it needs a little sweetening, use a bit of honey. And speaking of saving, if you've been canning with me through out the summer, you might now have some half-pint relish jars ready to recycle. Don't leave them sitting 1/8 full of vinegar in the back of the refrigerator. Pull them out, wash them and recycle! This is the time when canning actually starts to save you money instead of costing. All you may need to buy as you recycle jars is a box of new lids.

You may need to buy lids and rings--both are available option. Make the decision based on the quality of the rings you have. If they are showing signs of rust (see pic of lid on left as compared to good ring on the right) then you should throw them away. Rust can affect the quality of the seal on the jar in canning.

This sparkling pink apple juice came straight from the apples as per the work of my juicer. The juice combined with the pectin (brought to a hard boil that can't be stirred down) served as the full work of this jelly recipe.
If you are making nothing but jelly and have a juicer like mine, all you need to do is cut off the blossom end of each apple and feed it into the machine. But I wanted to use the pulp for other apple recipe--like apple cake and apple-almond bread, so I cut the apples into chunks and discarded the cores and seeds. Here you see a bowl of pulp that measured about half the pulp I gained from the pitcher of juice shown.

Most boxes of pectin come with a variety of cooking and canning instructions right in the box. You'll find jelly-making is pretty easy if you have a juicer, or if you take the super-easy short cut of simply buying bottles of juice.
If you want to go the most traditional route, the boxed pectin also gives directions for you to make the jelly by simmering the fruit in water and then allowing the "mush" to drip through a jelly-bag overnight; but to save time and trouble while maintaining the freshness of flavor, I bought a juicer. I use it most specifically for my apple and tomato recipes.
That's not to say, though, that I don't have and use a few recipes for healthy juices just for the drinking. In fact, I used the excess juice of about 4 apples and combined it with the juice of 4 carrots and a couple of stalks of celery. This simple juice blend completed a reviving snack when combined with a handful of roasted almonds. (Also left overs from the ones I'd chopped some of them for the apple nut bread.)
While the apple jelly processed in the canner, I perused recipes in an old church cookbook I bought at a garage sale. I found one I decided I have to try. Although it is not an apple recipe, it had too promising a name to ignore: a dessert called the "Better than Robert Redford" dessert.

One thing about the no-sugar-added recipes you should know, they tend to be somewhat runny compared to their sugar alternatives. If you do add some sugar (or honey or Splenda) to give it body, you have to bring the mixture back to a boil and boil it hard for 1 full minute after adding the sweetener--but those directions are likewise included with the no-sugar-added pectin.

A last note, if you feel like making the jelly a little less mundane. Check out the website link for a recipe on apple-rosemary jelly. (It is shown with the regular apple jelly above.) And if the children turn up their noses at herb jelly, say what I say: live a little!


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