Sunday, October 23, 2011

Apple Jam, not Jelly!

I decided that I wanted to make Apple Jam this year instead of Apple Jelly. First of all, for those of you who don't know the difference between the two, jam has bits of fruit in it and jelly is made from strained juice. Some fruits are more popular made into jelly (apple, grape, peach) and others you only think of as jam (strawberry).

So, why jam instead of jelly? Several reasons actually - first of all, the time. It takes a long time for the juice to drip down through the cheese cloth - I usually have to start it the day before I actually want to can it. Second is the waste - it just seems so wasteful to throw all of that apple pulp on the compost heap. I also kind of feel like a jam with bits of fruit in it is probably healthier than jelly and probably (although I haven't researched it) a source of fiber.

Having made the decision to make apple jam instead of jelly, I set out in search of a recipe and couldn't find one I liked. I didn't want one with caramel (kind of negates the health benefit) or one that tastes like apple pie. I also wanted one that uses commercial pectin. I know that apples contain a lot of natural pectin and it really isn't necessary to use pectin but I like to use the smallest amount of sugar I can and still get a good gel and pectin allows me to do that. I also didn't want big chunks of fruit in my jam - I want a smoother consistency that is easy to spread on my toast.

According to my almost 12 year old (how did he get to be this old?) taste tester, I got it right on the first try!

This is how I made it -

First I started out just like I was going to make applesauce. I washed my apples and just cut them into chunks - cores and skins and all. I only cut off the obvious bad spots.

I threw them all in a large stock pot with just enough water on the bottom so they wouldn't burn and cooked them until soft. Then I put them through my food strainer attachment on my kitchen aid.

Using 6 cups of the unsweetened applesauce I had just made and 4 cups of sugar and 1 packet of Sure Jell for Less or No Sugar Pectin, I made jam using the directions in the package.

The pictures above aren't the best, but it turned out just perfect.

Let me know if you have a recipe you like better for Apple Jam or if you try my recipe how it comes out for you.

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