Sunday, October 10, 2010

Apple Jelly - autumnal delights in an Indian Summer

I am making Apple Jelly this balmy Indian Summer weekend and when I realised I didn't have the recipe on my blog I thought I'd better rectify that omission right away. I have made apple jelly numerous times over the past years with the exception of last year when we had a disastrous summer resulting in no apple crop - a total of six apples from our three trees!

This year has more than compensated, with a great harvest and lots of lovely big cookers on the trees - they are probably Bramleys, but I really don't know the variety as they are there forever.

My grandfather planted one or two of the trees in the 1920s as we found a letter from Power's Plant Nursery in Waterford from that era pricing apple trees. The third we know from family lore was transplanted from the local vet's garden back in the Twenties or Thirties; they were throwing out this tree and Granddad rescued it. It is the one nearest the house now and supports my clothes line on one of its dead branches. They are all quite wonky and one looks like it could tip over and probably need a prop one of these years. Another is so tall there is no way we can ever reach the top branches so rely on the wind to knock 'em off as literal windfalls.

Here are some photos of the trees for posterity. They have served us well over the years - I am making lots of apple tarts this year and bringing them to work for the teabreaks as I would balloon if I kept them all for home though I'll always have one on the go for visitors.

The house is quite quiet nowadays with only hubby and teen daughter and myself here - two sons in Cork and one in Dublin mean we're travelling at weekends to visit them and happy to do so but they don't come home as often as they did from college. So while I still channel my baking muse the beneficiaries are work colleagues and friends more than the family.

I haven't made apple jelly for two years now, of necessity, and still have lots of the last batch, which is perfect - "preserves" in name and nature! Home-made stuff doesn't have a sell-by or best-before date but with the jars sterilised before filling (in the oven) it means bacteria don't get a look-in. It's only when the jar is opened that you have to watch out, though it's very unlikely to go off in the lifetime of a pot of jelly, as it'll be eaten before mould can take hold!

A caveat for any newcomers to Apple Jelly - you need TIME! It has to be made over two
days or one day if you start stage one in the morning. That doesn't equate to lots of work - that's minimal and is perfect for an intrinsic lazybones like me - no need to prep fruit, only wash the apples.

Apple Jelly

Stage One - Ingredients

  1. 3 Kilos Windfall apples or any cooking apples in good nick - no rotten apples.
  2. 2 litres/3-4 pints water (no need for great accuracy here)
  3. Rind of lemon (use potato peeler to peel off, as you need rest of lemon later)
  4. A Jelly Bag. (Any cotton bag with handles or an old cotton pillow case will do - it's to strain the apple pulp and will stain horribly so nothing can be used for anything else ever again!)
  5. Two Kitchen Chairs (To hang jelly bag between the chairbacks)
  6. Large bowl or basin to catch the juice from the jelly bag.

  1. Wash apples - no need to cut or core or peel
  2. Put whole apples in large saucepan or pressure cooker with water and lemon rind
  3. Bring to boil and cover
  4. Simmer or pressure cook for an hour/until completely pulped
  5. Mash up with wooden spoon or potato masher
  6. Carefully pour into the jelly bag hanging between the two chair backs with the basin on the floor
Stage Two - Ingredients

  1. Sugar
  2. Apple juice - obtained after pulp straining
  3. Juice of one lemon
  4. Cloves a few- optional if you like the flavour
  5. Measure a pound of sugar to each pint of juice obtained after straining overnight or until pulp no longer drips.
  6. (For Metric types - that's 450gms sugar to each 600ml juice)
  7. Jam Pots warmed in oven (put in cold oven and turn on heat to about 140C/285F so they warm gradually .
  8. (I use any clean glass jars with metal lids as they have a much longer shelf life than using cellophane jam pot covers as more sterile)


  1. Measure Apple Juice into large pot
  2. Bring to boil
  3. Add measured sugar
  4. Add Lemon Juice
  5. Add cloves if desired
  6. Boil and skim off foam/scum that forms on surface - use a spoon
  7. Reduce volume by about a third and test occasionally for setting point - reached when jelly wrinkles if poured on a plate and left to cool.
  8. Remove jars from oven (careful now!) and turn off cooker - jelly shouldn't be boiling or you'll get tiny bubbles in it.
  9. Ladle or pour jelly into the warm jars, fill to brim, and cap immediately.
  10. Stand on heatproof surface to cool, and listen for the pop as the jars vacuum seal - the little button on most lids will pop in. That's your seal of guaranteed preservation!

Enjoy fresh baked crusty bread, real butter and just-cooled jelly - heaven with a cuppa tea!

Photos from the top:
  • Finished product - nicely labelled by hubby!
  • The three apple trees in the garden
  • Jelly bag hanging between the chair backs
  • Jelly pulp straining into basin
  • Pulp in bag
  • Juice after pulp strained overnight
  • Foamy scum when jelly boils after adding sugar
  • Ready to pot - warm jars, Pyrex jug and ladle, plate for testing setting point/holding foamy skim-off.
  • Payback time - bread and jelly, a cuppa and set jelly in dish!


Padraic Murray said...

Lovely post, Catherine, even though I feel quite lazy and incompetent after reading it. I agree, it has been a most marvellous summer and early autumn. Enjoy! P.

Winifred said...

Well I'll pass on making the apple jelly as cooking apples are so expensive to buy and I don't have the time. I love Bramleys though, fabulous in apple pies!

Mimi said...

Ahh, apple jelly! brings back lovely memories of when my kids were small, and we made it a couple of years. I don't know why, but I don't think I could find the time now!
It's so yummy, and looks yummy in your photos too.

I've left alittle award for you over at my place; when you get a chance, do call in!

Irene said...

I wonder if apple jelly is like appelstroop? Could you ask your husband if it is?

Pooch Purple Reign said...

ahhh that looks delicious. you rock.
what i dont understand tho is how is it possible that you have beautiful weather there and my family has beautiful weather in ontario, and i, in prince edward island which is inbetween the 2, am freezing!!
really, enjoy it. i hope it comes my way

Rudee said...

I adored the use of chairs to hang your jelly bag. It's very low tech, but somehow clever and endearing.

Thanks for the recipe.

Stephanie V said...

This is the first fall that I haven't made any apple jelly. We had a lovely old tree in one our family's used to be my back yard when my kids were small. But now the house is sold and another young family will have the delicious apples from this old tree. Perfect for sauce, pie and jelly...your post brought back yummy memories.

Brownieville Girl said...

I made apple jelly for the first time last week and used an upturned stool - I ended up with more juice on the table and floor than in the bowl!!!!

Think I'll try your method next year!

Catherine said...

Thanks for all your comments friends!

Padraic - it isn't meant to guilt trip you - I just get a fit of energy some weekends and go on a baking and jammy blitz! And the good weather makes it even easier - long may it last, this week has been heaven even if I am working - I am lucky to be out and about in a beautiful part of the southern coast.

Winifred - I am shocked at the price of cooking apples in the shops - after last year's crop failure I had to buy apples for the first time in years and thankfully not any more.

Mimi - it is yummy and very easy to make so you never know you might get inspired. Thanks for the award! I have to work on it but it's too late now! Much appreciated for being tagged - you're good to me!

Nora - no appelstroop is a kind of treacle made from apples (that's what my nederlands-engels tells me!) and hubby hadn't a clue in answer to your question. I always thought appelstroop was thick and sticky and treacly but didn't know what it was till I checked it out! Apple jelly is light and clear - good jelly is transparent.

Laura - wish I knew why the weather is so bad your way - you live on the island of Anne of Green Gables - that's cool! ( I hear she's very popular in Japan!) and we still have great weather here - cool nights and some inland places had frost last night. I can live with that - cool nights and warm sunny days! did you know that there are strong links with Newfoundland and Waterford - lots of emigrants went there way back even before the famine. Seems they speak with waterford flat accents! Is that far from PEI? Must check Google Earth!

Rudee - low tech is often the best isn't it? I always remember the chairs were the only way to go and my mother always used a pillowcase with string tied to the corners tied onto the chairs! Endearing is a good word to use!

Stephanie V - pity you don't have a tree in your garden now - it's great to have a few apple trees about and I hope there are years left in these ones - amazing that they never get pruned or sprayed or treated or fed or anything and they are prolific producers when the weather is good - glad you are happy the new residents of your house can enjoy the fruits of your labour!It is great for apple tart too - I brought one to work today for the tea break, it went down a treat.

Brownie Girl - thanks - my method isn't too messy but it does need about three or four hands to manage pouring in the pulp to the jelly bag without it going all over the floor! I find this way works for me. Did you put cloves in the jelly? I've made some with and some without. Matter of preference I suppose.

All the best, Catherine

Ann said...

I love the process of making jelly, the colour of the finished product is lovely, your apple jelly is much darker than mine turned out!

No what you mean about the baking, when it's just the two of you.