CO-Horts Blog

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Delicious Jams and Jellies?

By Curtis Utley

Like Gru, I too have failed at producing a palatable product. This past weekend I attended my friends’ fall harvest party where all attendees are encouraged to bring a sample of their garden tomato bounty to enter into a grand taste test.  Each person votes for his or her favorite tomato. My friends also roll out their cider press and attendees are welcome to bring apples to crush and press into juice. I love apples and this year I had a bumper crop of Honeycrisp apples that I brought to the party for pressing.
My goal was to produce enough juice to try my hand at making Apple jelly. Apples are loaded will pectin, the gelling agent used to create a soft spreadable fruit preserve, so the recipe for apple jelly consists of two ingredients: 4 cups apple juice and 3 cups sugar. Other than dried fruit, very few things in the processed food realm are that simple.
Hard apple candy on waxed paper, Not apple jelly in a jar 

Unfortunately, getting these two ingredients to magically turn into a soft spreadable jelly takes some kitchen wizardry I have yet to master. The goal is to heat the simple mixture to a rapid boil for a period of time long enough to activate the pectin – to the gelling point. At this point, the jelly is processed in a water bath canner and the cooled product firms up. In my first attempt I produced apple flavored hard candy. In my second attempt I produced a VERY sweet shelf-stable apple juice.  Oh well, better luck next year, and maybe I’ll add in the optional third ingredient, lemon juice.

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