Despite its curious appearance, this is not Jelly With Preserved Insects. The upper jar does, as noted by a friend, resemble amber with prehistoric inclusions (in a pretty way, IMHO). Instead, however, it is a lovely, fragrant apple jelly with vanilla bean.
I have gone on a bit about apple jelly before, in particular regarding its handy applications in the making of other preserves, providing pectin where it is lacking in other fruits and vegetables. In my FPS class, I learned a slightly simpler method for making the basic jelly, as well as the vanilla bean idea, which is just delightful. Apple jelly is the perfect almost neutral vehicle for herb and other single flavored jellies. This is a special one.
Just before you pour the hot jelly into jars, slit a vanilla bean and scrape the innards into the jelly. The shell of the bean can be cut into as many pieces as there will be jars, and one piece tucked into each just before you pour the jelly in. You can make specially flavored herb jellies this way too. Stack leaves of your fresh herb of choice, roll them into a cigar shape, and sliver them as thinly as possible: "chiffonade" it is called , I think. If you add the herb just before jarring the jelly, most of the fresh color, and all the fresh taste will be intact.
Despite its neutral, carrying qualities, the apple jelly is far from boring in its plain state. It has a good, clean, refreshing taste on its own. And it can be used to great advantage in the glazing of fruit tarts and the like. If you heat it up, and brush it on over the apples or berries, or stone fruit on top of the tart, it will dry to a shiny transparently rosy gloss, and make your fruit pastry look posh and polished.
It is best, for pectin purposes, to use unripe apples. My CSA farmers were kind enough to let me have a box of windfall apples from their orchard, which are perfect for this purpose.
Here is the somewhat simpler recipe, adapted slightly from the French Pastry School Version:
Green, preferably unripe apples 1500g
Water to cover
juice of a lemon
Cut apples into 8 pieces each. Remove stems, but do not peel or core. Pour water over, bring to a boil, and simmer 1 hour. Put in a nonreactive container or bowl, and refrigerate overnight. In the morning drain through a very fine mesh strainer or chinois into a wide bottomed , heavy pan. (My copper preserving pan has proved so superior to any other I've tried, that I can actually say it has been a good buy. Also, it is very pretty. I am aware that it is slightly ridiculous to own such an object. But there you are.) Push on the apples slightly but not heavily. You want apple flavored liquid, not a cloudy puree.
If you leave the seemingly solid remains of the apple poised over a bowl, several hours later, you will have half again as much liquid collected. If you chill all the liquid in a ceramic or glass bowl overnight again, it actually seems to jell even more readily. This is not necessary, however. Add lemon and sugar, bring to a boil, and cook until it is clearly jelling- 65 brix*, or until a drop blobs, rather than runs, on a chilled pottery plate.
Pour into sterilized jars, allowing 1/4" space, top with new lids, and invert. Leave upside down overnight, check seals for boingers, and refrigerate all such deviants to use up quickly. I made eight ounce jars of plain apple jelly for multiple uses. The vanilla or herbal jellies are nicest in the bitty 4 oz. jars, I think. This makes 3 of one, and six of the other.
*Yes, I did buy an analog refractometer. You knew I would, I'll bet. It's pretty cool, and makes things way easier. But you can use the old fashioned methods too, and they have certainly always worked for me in the past. It would be a silly toy if you don't do much jam. Probably a silly toy for me anyway, but I do love it. And it takes very little storage space. Unlike the big old jam pan.