Apples are one of my favorite fruits to can, not only for flavor, but for their versatility, too. Cider, jelly, salsa, sauce, slices, and pie filling always make their way to my pantry shelves.
When the earliest apples are available, apple jelly is the starting point. A very simple recipe that makes the most of the first crop.
For years I completed the process the old fashioned way – peeling, coring, boiling, mashing and straining for juice. There’s satisfaction in that, but I’m perfectly content to use a juicer which cuts my prep time and waste to nill. I now use the Ronco Smart Juicer – yep, the very same “seen on TV” one that is now available at Amazon, Walmart, Sears and so on – which does a great job of extracting every drop of juice with very little waste left.
And though I’m going to detail the stove-top method in the recipe below, I currently use the FreshTECH Automatic Jam & Jelly Maker for smaller batches – another time-saving unit that leaves me hands-free to get other cooking or kitchen tasks done simultaneously. (You can find an overview of this product on my Wild Blackberry Bourbon Jam Recipe feature.)
Apple Jelly Low Sugar Recipe
4 cups fresh Apple Juice
1 and 1/2 cups Sugar
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
In a large sauce pan, over a medium heat, add apple juice, sugar and lemon juice. Stir gentle until the sugar is dissolved.
Turn stove top heat to high and bring apple juice to a boil, stirring continuously.
Cook apple juice to its gelling point. (The apple liquid will become thick and syrupy. If you are using a candy thermometer this will be around 220-225 degree Fairenheit.)
Skim foam and discard. Remove from heat. Ladle immediately into hot canning jars or freezer canning containers, leaving a 1/4 inch head space.
Continue processing with your preferred method for storage – shelf, refrigerator or freezing. (If you are unfamiliar with canning processes, I highly recommend picking up a manual like the “Ball Blue Book of Preserving.”)
Additional Tips for Preparation and Storage
Ideally, fresh apples should be canned within 1-3 days of picking.
When selecting apples for canning, be sure the fruit is optimally ripened. Check for bruises and diseases. Bruises can be cut out but diseased fruit should be discarded.
When preparing fruit by cutting or mashing, be sure to process them immediately. Excessive exposure to air can discolor apples and interfere with the canning process. Fruits like apples can be temporarily placed in cold water mixed with a squeeze of lemon to help keep them fresh during preparation.
Prior to canning, inspect all equipment and sterilize, including jars and lids. Jars should be free of cracks and chips. Lids and rings should be free of rust and dents. New seals should be used each time you process canned foods to ensure a tight seal.
PS: If you want more farm fresh recipes, we have plenty! Visit our NOURISH section to check out what’s new in the Rural Mom kitchen. If you are into HOMESTEADING, GARDENING or looking for some fun DIY, we have that, too. And of course, there are always GIVEAWAYS (so be sure to check them out.)
Lastly, apples have ample pectin to create a good jelly set, but if you are having difficulty getting with a proper set, products like Ball Real Fruit Pectin can be of help.