My morning jelly

Only in New York City is it easier to make your own apple juice/concentrate (for added pectin) than to schlep through groceries and health food stores trying to find commercial pectin in the barren season. NYC’dwellers aren’t notorious for being canners and preservers (though the tide is shifting!) so the spotty availability of pectin is not surprising in the least.

Yesterday, finding no Pomona’s on my co-op shelf, I resolved to get crafty (another non-surprise.) I bought five small-ish Empire apples (from upstate, Hempstead Farm) and made juice this morning to add to my two Tigress Can Jam March recipes. The verdict is still out on whether or not these two jellies will set—the red onion one looks promising!—but it was exhilarating to take authority for the first time in a recipe and know that my jelly aspirations were not doomed from the outset.

Apple Juice Recipe (how I did it)

Quarter 5 small apples with blossom and stem ends removed (not cored). Put apple pieces in a saucepan with enough water to cover them. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently and then reduce heat, simmering at a low boil for about 30 min. Mash apples as you periodically stir the boiling mix. When apples are soft, remove pot from heat and strain the pulp over a cheesecloth lined strainer.

Marching forward with Alliums

Ahem, I’ll start by saying: this ingredient family stumped me. I flipped through the three canning books I own, indexing alliums of all sorts. The only thing that seemed appealing (and useful in our home) was jelly.

I went ahead and picked two as a means of getting mileage out of the full canner pot. These recipes are modified from the originals listed in this book. (I gotta say, I’m not so crazy about this book, though there are a ton of recipes, the tone feels geared toward 1950’s housewife-convenience efforts. All this ‘quick’ and ‘easy’ shit. I didn’t sign up for canning with hopes of it ever being quick and easy. I want a comprehensive book o’ recipes that shows the long (and short, if there is one) ways to do things. Any suggestions?)

after I could see through the tears…Red Onion Apple Jelly

makes almost 3-8’oz jars

1 c red onion finely chopped

2 tsp julienned lemon zest

3/4 c apple cider vinegar

1 c unsweetened apple juice

2 c granulated sugar

Method: Prepare your jars.

Combine all ingredients in your heaviest-bottom pot. Bring to a boil and stir constantly to keep sugar from burning. My industrial-strength spatula is my new fave jelly/jam/sweet spread tool (thanks mama!) It’ll take about 15-20 minutes for this mixture to reach the 220 degree F gelling point.

When the mix reaches 220 degrees, ladle hot jelly into hot jars.

[Brazenly Unseasonal] Red Pepper Garlic Jelly

makes almost 3-8’oz jars

1 c red pepper finely chopped

3 cloves of garlic slivered (and chopped, for the slivers that ended up too thick)

3/4 c cider vinegar

1 c unsweetened apple juice

2 c granulated sugar

Method: same as abovethe sun is finally out!Recommendations for anyone who might attempt these recipes: I’d probably go ahead and include the third (recommended) cup of granulated sugar to both recipes. I dropped it to see what might happen (which may be a syrup-y marinade instead of a dual-purpose jelly/marinade.) Although, check back with me in a few days; the set might be just peachy after all.

OR I’d experiment with making more of a true concentrate by doubling the apples and keeping water levels the same, a super-pectin cocktail! Kaela from the Local Kitchen just sent me a link to her pectin stock recipe! Score!! I am so doing this in the fall!

Another question for the experienced jelly-makers out there: I had a frozen apple juice concentrate in the freezer, but shied away from adding it to the mix because of malic and ascorbic acid additives. Was this unnecessary?

Red Pepper Garlic

This just in! Andrea, a fellow CanJammer, just responded to a question I’d asked about locust bean gum and agar-agar in her blog. She’s in Germany where it’s hard to find certain canning items (like American commercial pectin, I’m assuming); here’s her response to getting jams to set without pectin:

“They have powdered locust bean gum at our grocery store (Germany). I’ve used agar agar a lot with jams, but the problem is that it doesn’t seem to work with waterbath canning. Usually, I don’t waterbath can my jams – just for this challenge. So without the waterbath, agar-agar works quite fine. You have to mix it with a little water to dissolve it and when the jam is cooking you just add it to the jam. Then you boil it for a couple minutes and pour it into your jars. When the temperature decreases, the jam will set. I tried waterbath canning it, but it wouldn’t set anymore after the waterbath and was all runny… That’s why I was looking for something else and stumbled upon locust bean gum. This I just add to the boiling mixture, boil it for about 4 minutes, pour it into the jars and process them.”

These alternatives are helpful for times when you can’t find pectin at the store, or if you just feel like venturing beyond the boundaries of modern convenience. To be clear, I don’t have issues with commercial pectin. Though it’s made by big machines in a factory, it’s fruit derived and seems harmless enough.

Aaaand, the set: One of my books said jelly could take up to two weeks to set, but impatient as I am to assess success/failure, I’m ready to judge now, 2 days out. It looks like my red onion apple jelly has formed a loose set, and the red pepper garlic is definitely a syrup marinade! The two half jars of each variety that didn’t get waterbath canned both set the most firmly, but maybe that also has something to do with being in the fridge. On both jelly accounts I deem success. I can’t say I’d venture to drop my garlic mixture atop cheese and crackers anyway (it’s so intense!) Plus, a syrup makes marinading much easier, right?!