There were always apples in the kitchen. After dinner, our Mom would peel and cut them into thick slices. They were probably a substitute for our lack of vegetables in our diet. (It was not that she did not cook vegetables; we just did not like them very much.)
Lucky knew when Apple Time was. He would wait anxiously behind Mom as she cut them. He would bark at her for some of the fruit. She would sneak small pieces to him because she loved the crunching sounds he made. Then he would go to every single person in the family to get more servings. He was smart that way. Or greedy, one could never tell.
Making apple jelly was probably our vain attempt to evade Apple Time. We love apples, but having them every day was overkill. The jelly is a versatile way to subtly introduce the fruit into any dish, savoury or sweet. Top it on a buttery scone with (loads of) clotted cream or lace it over a crispy pork chop. It tasted so good that we were so sure that we had Mom convinced that the apple jelly provided enough nutrients.
She still cuts apples for us though.
Adapted from David Lebovitz
Makes 750ml worth
1.125 litres water
Whiskey, or Calvados, Brandy or Cognac, to taste
(Different apples will yield a different amount of strained apple juice. Per 240ml of strained apple juice, add 150g of sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoons of lemon juice.)
Cut apples into big cubes, skin intact, and place them, including cores and seeds, into a large pot.
Add water, cover and bring to a boil. When it reaches to a boil, reduce the heat a little and leave the lid askew. Cook for 20-30 minutes or until the apples are cooked through.
Line a mesh colander with muslin cloth or a few folds of cheesecloth and set it over a deep bowl. Lade the apples and the liquid into the colanders.
Let it stand overnight to allow the juices to be strained entirely.
The next day, place a plate in the freezer. Then, measure out the juice. Measure the amount of sugar and lemon juice accordingly. Pour apple juice into a large pot, add the sugar and lemon, and bring to a boil. Skim off the white scum.
Cook until the temperature reaches 104C. Turn off the heat and test the jelly on the chilled plate, by placing a dab of jelly on the plate and then allowing it to rest in the freezer for a few minutes. Check to see if your jelly is ready: When it wrinkles and holds its shape, it is ready. Otherwise, continue to cook then re-test again.
Remove from heat, and stir in the liquor. Depending on how much you love alcohol, you can either omit it or add jugs of it. Add as how you want, according to your taste.
Ladle jelly into clean jars and then cap tightly. Allow it to cool before placing it in the refrigerator.
You can use a variety of apples as we did, to add to the complexity of the apple jelly. We used Granny Smiths, Jazz and Envy apples and it created such a lovely pink hue of apply jelly. You would need to add in “sour” or unripe apples as they have more pectin – that would allow the jelly to set more easily.
When straining the apples, do not press down on the apples to extract more juice as it will make the jelly cloudy.
Remember to skim off all scum or it would stain the jelly when it sets.