apple pectin stock jelly

This year, I was gifted with a bag of just underripe Gravensteins, so I decided to make French jam maven Christine Ferber’s recipe for apple pectin stock jelly. This is one of those nose-to-tail recipes that please me greatly, like corncob broth or overgrown cucumber mustard pickles or Japanese spinach crown salad, because it emphasizes how one can keep costs under control when cooking with high quality fresh produce.

I’ve been making a quince pectin stock for the past couple of years, and the apple pectin stock is similar — you just boil down the fruit with its peel, core, and seeds, until it is mushy, then gently strain out the fruit and boil it down again by a third or half before freezing in 1/2 cup chunks. Tigress in a Jam has a good, free-form recipe for apple stock pectin with no sugar if you need it.  I prefer quince stock pectin, because I find apple juice unpleasant and like quince, but keep in mind that quince has a very unique and persistent flavor that will be evident in your jam.

But Ferber takes the simple boiled apples or quinces to the next level with her jelly, which is shelf-stable and can be used to glaze a fruit tart or roast as well as to fortify jam with low-pectin fruit.  The flavor is extremely mild, so it’s not really your go-to morning jelly for toast; it’s more about the texture and pectin powers.  Plus, mine turned a pretty salmon pink, slightly oddly given the green juice.  (You’ll also notice that there are hundreds of tiny bubbles in mine — this is due to not letting the jelly sit for 5 minutes before canning.  Not a big deal unless you are sending it off to the fair.)

To make the pectin stock jelly most potent, use underripe fruit.  Any apple will be high in pectin, but you’ll get the most bang for your buck if you use “green” apples, not Granny Smiths, but underripe apples of any variety.  Hence, it’s a good use for apples that need to be thinned early to encourage good fruit on your own trees.  In the Willamette Valley, you can start as early as June with our early-ripening ‘Transparent’ variety.  Northern Californians might try Gravensteins, which have short stems that want to abort young apples anyway.  Dunno if the variety alters the taste.

Ferber uses a cup per kilo (about two and a quarter pounds, or one batch) of fruit for her preserves, but I’ve seen reports of using anywhere from one to one-half cup on the Internets.  Do keep in mind that this jelly has sugar in it, and it’s intended for a full sugar/French-style preserve.  It’s also beautifully natural and dependent upon the ingredients and seasons, hence relatively unreliable, so you should plan for softer or firmer sets when you experiment with adding it to recipes.  For low-sugar jams, I’d stick with Pomona pectin.

We’ll be using it with our lavender fig preserves on Monday.  I’ll let you know what happens!  Edited to add: Worked like a charm.  We added 1/2 cup to a double batch after it was boiling heartily, and the gel set rather quickly — I might try a full cup next time.

Interested in a full-flavored apple cider jelly that’s the essence of autumn, made with the season’s first crisp cider?  See my award-winning recipe here.

Ferber’s Green Apple Pectin Stock Jelly

Slightly adapted and annotated.  Makes about 4 half-pints.

  • 7 cups water
  • Juice of one large lemon, with one tablespoon separated out
  • 3 1/2 pounds underripe apples
  • 4 2/3 cups sugar

Fill a large, squat stockpot with water and one tablespoon of lemon juice.

Wash apples, remove stems, and pare away bad spots.  Cut each entire apple into quarters and drop it immediately into acidulated water in pot.

Bring apples to boil and simmer for about 40 minutes, occasionally mixing to break up apples.

Strain apple pulp in chinois or sieve lined with a double layer of regular cheesecloth.  Do not press down on apples if you would like a clear juice (not important if you will be using it for a dark jam).  This may take several hours.

Add 4 1/4 cups of the juice into a preserving pan with the rest of the lemon juice and  sugar.  Bring to a boil and cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes or until it is set.  Let sit for 5 minutes and skim any foam, if necessary.

Ladle jelly into hot, sterilized canning jars with 1/4 inch headspace, and fit with properly prepared two-piece lids. (Refer to a canning basics guide if you don’t know what this means.)  Process for 5 minutes in a waterbath canner.

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apple saucy crumble in a cast iron pan

I used half of a pint of my homemade, slightly sweetened Gravenstein apple and cranberry sauce with 3-4 apples for this crisp crumble.  Because I was too lazy to dirty up two dishes (pot plus Pyrex baking dish I usually use),  I cooked down the apples in a cast iron pan and then just added the sauce and crumbly topping before popping the pan in the oven.  Chop yer apples, then cook until soft and just beginning to break down with some butter and brown sugar and a touch of lemon juice.  And lo!  You will find that the apple/sugar/sauce starts to caramelize around the edges of the pan much more than they ever would in Pyrex.  You heard it here first.  Yum yum.

lane county apple cider

One of the things I missed most in California was decent apple cider.  When we moved to Oregon, it was time to rejoice!  There doesn’t seem to be as much cider in markets as one would think, so when you find a source, hang on and don’t let go.

Or, make some fresh apple cider jelly, and you can have it all year ’round!

I get my cider at River Bend Farm, lately made famous by an appearance on KLCC’s Food for Thought radio program (listen to the .mp3 archive here).  The farm, just outside Pleasant Hill beyond the south Eugene hills, is primarily an orchard, and apples are plentiful.  This weekend, Annette set me up with the crispest, juiciest Empires, Liberties, and Mutsus for my apple-picky husband.  He approved of the crispiness factor, so I wholeheartedly recommend these apples.

One of the best parts of cider at River Bend Farm is experiencing the turn of the season.  They use different apples throughout autumn, and you can taste it in the cider, which sweetens up and transforms as the weather gets cooler.

In Lane County, cider is also available at Detering’s Orchard and Thistledown Farm.

Where do you get your cider?