So why do I have all these little nobby green apples in a 1/2 bushel box? Well.... my daughter and I thought we would maybe plan to get together for a weekend in August, and collaborate on some jam. We had noticed that many alluring Christine Ferber recipes call for the use of green apple jelly. This purportedly boosts the jelling possibilities for various fruits which don't have much pectin of their own. We thought it might be a good idea to make some of this together, and then each use some making different jams later. Green apple jelly is made from very unripe apples, preferably, says Ms. Ferber, picked in July.
I thought I might get some windfall apples of this sort from Don Kreschmann, the farmer behind my weekly boxes of vegs. I consulted with Don, who said he was glad I asked. They were overwhelmed with windfalls from their earliest apples, to the point where they couldn't keep up with pie-baking. He was going to get back to me about offering some to subscribers. I was expecting a little more chit-chat on the topic, but what I got was a happy surprise with my veggies on Wednesday- an accompanying 1/2 bushel box of very green organic windfall apples with my name on it.
Since my busy child can't make it to Pittsburgh before August, I decided to make up some pectin jelly now, while the apples are fresh. Then, when we rendezvous, we can use the jelly to make ourselves some more glamourous conserves. Of course there is no way I'm making all these apples into pectin jelly. So apart from pie, I'll need to come up with some good ideas for green apples. Applesauce, as you will see, is a delightful byproduct of the jelly making process here, so that won't count as a separate idea. This is going to need some serious thinking out. Meanwhile, on to the green apple jelly fest. I decided to make a double batch of Ms. Ferber's recipe, in the hopes of getting 6-8 eight oz. jars of pectin jelly. (Each of her enticing conserve recipes uses 7oz. of the pectin jelly, so that will be some to play with together, and a couple for each of us for future doings.)
I put 13 cups of water into a big stockpot. Then I weighed out 7 pounds of the green little pellet apples, which I washed. I removed the stems, but not the skin, and cut them in quarters, or halves for the really tiny ones. Into the water with them, and then I brought the water to a near boil, turned it down to a simmer , and cooked them for for 30 minutes. The apples became very soft.
With somewhat different equipment from C.F., I tried to acheive the desired result, mainly getting the rendered liquid strained out of the pulp, without adding a whole lot of pureed pulp to it. So first, I poured all the moosh through a chinois, pressing just lightly on the apple pulp, but trying to let the juice run pretty freely through. Then I poured the results through a jelly bag, which I had on hand, rather than dampened cheesecloth, as I did not think I had enough cheesecloth to cope if things got messy.
This left me with nearly 2 quarts of nice, clear fresh smelling apple something. (About 1 cup less than I should have-I always wind up with less with anything to do with jam.) I put this in a ceramic container- a beanpot actually- and set it in the fridge overnight, to let any sediment do its thing. Then, faced with a big pile of apple pulp and a lot of equipment too big for the dishwasher to clean, I pulled myself together. Instead of flinging myself on the sofa with a book, I made applesauce.
Yes, I actually put all that pulp back through the chinois, ditched the seeds and skin, and got about a quart of pretty greeny looking applesauce, to which I just added a small pile of vanilla sugar. Then I cleaned up, mixed some of the still warm applesauce with some greek yogurt, and took my bowl, spoon, book and cats, and flung myself on the sofa, glowing with virtue.
The next morning I combined the apple juice with 8 cups of sugar, and the juice of one very big lemon, brought it to a boil, and skimmed it numerous times. I then cooked it all on a highish heat for ten minutes, brought it to a boil again, and stuck in the candy thermometer. When it hit 220F, I turned off the heat and skimmed it once more. I carefully (in bare feet, like an idiot) ladeled it into 8 one cup wide mouth ball jars, which I had sterilized in boiling water, and used a sterilized knife to bust up as many air bubbles as possible. I then topped them with the lids, and left on a towel overnight to cool and seal.
As I have said before, this is a european method for preserves, and is not the preferred and recommended US gov't method for safety in preserving. If you want to be assured of complete food safety, you should process these, and all your jams and jellies in a boiling water bath for at least 10 minutes. In either event you must check to see that the jars are sealed, with concave lids, and that they don't "boing" when you press on the top. If you are in doubt, refrigerate and use them up quickly.
I am very pleased because I am pretty sure these are jelling- it was difficult to wash the preserving pan, because the remaining bit was so jellied. Also, they are transparently amber and are quite tasty on their own. I think they would make a very nice fruit tart (or ham) glaze and may save a jar or two for such purposes. They have a lovely, clean taste. Stay tuned for future conserves made with this "pectin stock jelly." Ideas for the rest of the green apples would be appreciated.
Addendum: I have discovered that Christine Ferber will be conducting a two day master class at a place called The French Pastry School in Chicago, August 2-4. At first, I was upset that I discovered this too late to plan to go. However, having realized that it costs $825, plus travel to Chicago and a hotel, I probably couldn't have managed it anyway. But it certainly would have been worth the trip to see her at work. sigh.