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Yields: 8 to 11 eight-ounce jarsMaking and canning your own apple jelly is quite easy. Here's how to do it, in 13 easy steps and completely illustrated. These directions work equally well for pear, peach, nectarine, plum and apricot jellies. For jam of these fruit, see this page; or see this page for berry jams, this page for Fig Jam and this page for Blueberry Jam directions! If you want to make crabapple jelly, see this page!
The most important step! You need apples that are sweet - NOT something like Granny Smith's. Yeah, I know you like them (why do sweet women like sour apples???) and even if I did, they still wouldn't make good apple jelly - you'd have to add a lot of sugar.
Instead, choose apples that are naturally sweet, like Red Delicious, Gala, Fuji, Rome and always use a mixture - never just one type. This year I used 4 bushels of red delicious and one each of Fuji, Yellow Delicious, Gala and Rome. This meant it was so sweet I did not need to add any sugar at all. And the flavor is great! The Fuji's and Gala's give it an aromatic flavor!
You can also start with apple juice or apple cider (fresh, canned or frozen) - just use a type that does not have added sweeteners. You will need 6 cups of apple juice and then skip to step 7.
You can pick your own, or buy them at the grocery store. But for large quantities, you will find that real farmer's markets, like the State Farmer's Market in Forest Park, Georgia have them at the best prices. In 2012, they were available from late September at $14 to $30 per bushel.
You will get about 14 pints of apple jelly per bushel of apples.
I'm sure you can figure out how to wash the apples in plain cold water and remove any stickers or labels on them.
Using a vegetable peeler or a paring knife, peel the apples.
Note: a steam juicer works best for extracting juice from crabapple, but the method below will yield the same results, it's just more work.
Note: You CAN use a juicer, if you have one. In which case, just wash and chop the apples as the directions with your juicer require, juice the apples and skip to step 7. Juicing results in a more clear jelly, if that matters to you.
Chopping them is much faster if you use one of those apple corer/segmenters - you just push it down on an apple and it cuts it into segments.
Using a paring knife, be sure to remove any seeds, hard parts (usually the part around the seeds) and any mush or dark areas.
Pretty simple! Put about 3 or 4 cups of water (I use filtered tap water) on the bottom of a huge, thick-bottomed pot. (about 2 inches of water in the pot). How much water to use is not an exact science, since some varieties of apples are much more juicy, and even the same variety varies depending upon the weather. Honeycrisp, Delicious and Gala, for example, tend to be juicy/ watery; while most baking apples, like Rome, tend to be drier and require more water.
Put the lid on, and the heat on high. When it gets really going, turn it to medium high until the apples are soft through and through.
Yes, this picture shows skins (I didn't have a photo of this step with peeled apples) and you CAN leave the skins on; it just clogs up the strainer more and takes more time. On the plus side, leaving on the skins usually imparts a little more flavor, plus the color of the skins to the finished jelly!
You can either put the soft cooked apples through a jelly strainer (about $9.00, see ordering at right, or pour them through cheesecloth in a colander.
Or if you don't mind slightly chunky jelly, you don't need to sieve it. Just let the juice stand for 20 minutes, and Decant (pour off) the mostly clear liquid to use. Discard the bigger chunks of solids left behind at the bottom. The only purpose of the sieve/filtering is to make a clearer jelly. The more you filter it, the clearer it is. But it tastes the same! Personally, I find the sieving step to be messy, wastes a lot of the apple juice and pulp and unnecessary; decanting is faster, easier and yields more.
I pointed out in the ingredients list that you could start with apple juice, store bought or your own.
Either way, you will need about 6 cups of juice now.
Depending upon which type of jam you're making (sugar, no-sugar, Stevia (but you will have to experiment with amount, each brand of Stevia is a different concentration), or Splenda, or a mix of sugar and Stevia (or Splenda) or fruit juice) you will need to use a different amount of sugar and type of pectin. The precise measurements are found in directions inside each and every box of pectin sold (every brand, Ball, Kerr, Mrs. Wages, etc. has directions inside). I haven't seen a jelly recipe that uses only Stevia (in a prepared form like Truvia, it measures same as sugar; if you use another form, you will need do your own conversion) - or Splenda, if you prefer, , and I haven't yet tried it; I suspect it would taste bland.
|Type of jam||
Type of pectin to buy
|regular||no-sugar or regular||7 cups of sugar|
|low sugar||no-sugar||4.5 cups of sugar|
|lower sugar||no-sugar||2 cups sugar and 2 cups Splenda (or about 1/3 that if you use Stevia, which is my preference)|
|no sugar||no-sugar||4 cups Splenda (or about 1/3 that if you use Stevia, which is my preference)|
|natural||no-sugar||3 cups fruit juice (grape, peach, apple or mixed)|
In a small bowl, mix the dry pectin with about 1/4 cup of sugar (or other sweetener). Keep this separate from the rest of the sugar. If you are not using sugar, you will just have to stir more vigorously to prevent the pectin from clumping.
Notes about pectin: Apple jelly should only require about a half packet of pectin per batch, more if you are adding less or no sugar. With a little practice, you will find out exactly how much pectin to get the thickness you like.
For more about the types of pectin sold, see this page!
Is your jam too runny? Pectin enables you to turn out perfectly set jam
every time. Made from natural apples, there are also natural no-sugar
pectins that allow you to reduce the sugar you add by half or even eliminate
Get canning jars, rings, lids and pectin deliverd:
Stir the pectin into the apple juice and put the mix in a big pot on the stove over medium to high heat (stir often enough to prevent burning). It should take about 5 to 10 minutes to get it to a full boil (the kind that cannot be stirred away).
Some foam on the surface is normal. You will skim it off later.
When the apple-pectin mix has reached a full boil, add the rest of the sugar (or other sweetener) or other sweetener, and then bring it back to a boil and boil hard for 1 minute.
I keep a metal tablespoon sitting in a glass of ice water, then take a half spoonful of the mix and let it cool to room temperature on the spoon. If it thickens up to the consistency I like, then I know the jam is ready. If not, I mix in a little more pectin (about 1/4 to 1/2 of another package) and bring it to a boil again for 1 minute.
(Yes, I know the jam on the spoon in the photo is red - that was from making strawberry jam, but aside from the color, it should look the same).
Fill them to within 1/4-inch of the top, wipe any spilled jam off the top, seat the lid and tighten the ring around them. Then put the filled jars into the canner!
This is where the jar tongs and lid lifter come in really handy!
Keep the jars covered with at least 2 inches of water. Keep the water boiling. In general, boil them for 10 minutes, which is what SureJell (the makers of the pectin) recommend. I say "in general" because you have to process (boil) them longer at higher altitudes than sea level, or if you use larger jars, or if you did not sanitize the jars and lids right before using them. The directions inside every box of pectin will tell you exactly. The directions on the pectin tend to be pretty conservative. Clemson University says you only need to process them for 5 minutes. I usually hedge my bets and start pulling them out after 7 minutes, and the last jars were probably in for 10. I rarely have a jar spoil, so it must work.
Note: Some people don't even boil the jars; they just ladle it hot into hot jars, put the lids and rings on and invert them, (this is called "open kettle" processing). Open kettle process is universally condemned by all of the authorities (USDA, FDA, Universities - Clemson, UGa, Minnesota, WI, Michigan, etc,.) as being inherently dangerous and conducive to botulism. It does not create a sterile environment; it does create the ideal environment for botulism to grow.
Putting the jars in the boiling water bath REALLY helps to reduce spoilage! To me, it makes little sense to put all the working into making the jam and then not to process the jars to be sure they don't spoil or risk your family's health.!
Lift the jars out of the water and let them cool without touching or bumping them in a draft-free place (usually takes overnight) You can then remove the rings if you like, but if you leave them on, at least loosen them quite a bit, so they don't rust in place due to trapped moisture. Once the jars are cool, you can check that they are sealed verifying that the lid has been sucked down. Just press in the center, gently, with your finger. If it pops up and down (often making a popping sound), it is not sealed. If you put the jar in the refrigerator right away, you can still use it. Some people replace the lid and reprocess the jar, then that's a bit iffy. If you heat the contents back up, re-jar them (with a new lid) and the full time in the canner, it's usually ok.
Once cooled, they're ready to store. I find they last up to 12 months. But after about 6 to 8 months, they get darker in color and start to get runny. They still are safe to eat, but the flavor and texture aren't as good. So eat them in the first 6 months after you prepare them!
These are my favorite essential canning tools, books and supplies. I've been using many of these for over 50 years of canning! The ones below on this page are just the sampling of. my preferred tools. but you can find much more detailed and extensive selections on the pages that are linked below.
This is THE book on canning! My grandmother used this book when I was a child.; It tells you in simple instructions how to can almost anything; complete with recipes for jam, jellies, pickles, sauces, canning vegetables, meats, etc.
If it can be canned, this book likely tells you how! Click on the link below for more information and / or to buy (no obligation to buy)The New Ball Blue Book of Canning and Preserving
Canning and Preserving for Dummies by Karen Ward
This is another popular canning book. Click here for more information, reviews, prices for Canning and Preserving For Dummies
Of course, you do not need to buy ANY canning book as I have about 500 canning, freezing, dehydrating and more recipes all online for free, just see Easy Home Canning Directions.
I have several canners, and my favorite is the stainless steel one at right. It is easy to clean and seems like it will last forever. Mine is 10 years old and looks like new.
The black ones are the same type of standard canner that my grandmother used to make everything from applesauce to jams and jellies to tomato and spaghetti sauce.
This complete kit includes everything you need and lasts for years: the canner, jar rack, Jar grabber tongs, lid lifting wand, a plastic funnel, labels, bubble freer, It's much cheaper than buying the items separately. It's only missing the bible of canning, the Ball Blue Book.
You will never need anything else except jars & lids (and the jars are reusable)!
The complete list of canners is on these pages:
If you plan on canning non-acidic foods and low acid foods that are not pickled - this means: meats, seafood, soups, green beans corn, most vegetables, etc., then you ABSOLUTELY must use a Pressure Canner.
Of course, you can use a pressure canner as a water bath canner as well - just don't seal it up, so it does not pressurize. This means a Pressure Canner is a 2-in-1 device. With it, you can can almost ANYTHING.
There are also other supplies, accessories, tools and more canners, of different styles, makes and prices, click here!
From left to right:
Don't spend money on books. that you don't need to. Almost everything you can find in some book sold online or in a store is on my website here for free. Start with theEasy Home Canning Directions below. That is a master list of canning directions which are all based upon the Ball Bblue book, the National Center for Home Food Preservation and other reputable lab tested recipes. Almost every recipe I present in addition to being lab tested com. is in a step by step format with photos for each step and complete. explanations. that tell you how to do it, where to get the supplies and pretty much everything you need to know. In addition, there almost always in a PDF format so you can print them out and use them while you cook.
most recent version of
the Ball Blue Book