There's something romantic about apples - the beautiful aroma of a great apple that fills your house, the wonderful taste of a luscious fruit, and how you can create mouth watering desserts from such a simple fruit. A recent apple bounty has filled the refrigerator fruit tray, and my little sticky pad is overrun with baking ideas, although I'll ignore the sticky for a while to enjoy whole fruit, unadulterated with butter or sugar.
Food in Jars is a wonderful blog about canning and preserving, and this post did mention that apple is a difficult fruit to "jam" with. Having made a jam promise to myself, I ignored the sage advice of a very experienced canning expert, and decided to take the challenge.
The results hit the palate like a riot of warm, fuzzy flavors. The jam was flavored with apple pie spices and pairs wonderfully with bread or crackers.
Apple Jam - enough to fill three 500g jars
6 large apples (I used Kinnaur apples)
750 ml water
1 cup regular white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 vanilla bean, scraped
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger powder
Pour water in a large pot. Chop the apples and keep adding them in the water to reduce oxidation. You can also rub them with lemon juice instead. Turn the flame to high and cook for 20 minutes, till the apples soften.
Once the apples are soft, remove the pot from heat and mash the apples using a potato masher or a hand blender. Wrap your hand with a towel to protect yourself from the hot steam. Place the pot on the flame and add sugar. Cook for another twenty minutes on a medium flame.
During this time, the apple mixture will bubble and thicken. Add in the vanilla seeds from the bean, cinnamon, and ginger. Let the mixture cook for ten minutes.
While the mixture is cooking, sterilize the jars for the jam by placing them in boiling water (add 1 tbsp white vinegar to the water). Dry the jars completely.
When the jam is cooked, pour it into the jars. Close the lids and place the jars in a pan of boiling water (the water should reach the middle of the jar) for ten minutes to seal the jars.
The jam will thicken as it cools. Keep refrigerated.
* Use fresh apples to make this jam. Fresh apples are rich in pectin, a natural substance used to thicken jams. If you have apples sitting in your fridge since a few weeks, add 2-3 tbsp pectin to the mixture. Pectin is available at Modern Bazaar at Basant Lok Market, Vasant Vihar, Delhi. See this link for instructions on using pectin. Read more about pectin on Wikipedia.
* The jam filled jars are immersed in hot water to seal them. This increases the shelf life of the jam and keeps it fresh longer.
* Since this jam doesn't contain any preservatives, it can get spoiled easily. Keep it refrigerated at all times.
* A homemade jam isn't always smooth in texture like store bought jam. When you bite into this apple jam, you'll get bits and pieces of the fruit. That's just how I like it.