My husband grew up on apple juice. When we first started living together, he still loved his apple juice. I was not brought up with juice, and I just couldn’t get my arms around this one. In fact, when his mother comes to visit – she still drinks her cup of apple juice in the morning. Slowly he stopped drinking it – and he actually supported me in a pretty much a non-juice household with the kids. I just feel that if you are going to get your fruit intake, it might as well be from real fruit (this is from the non-fruit eater…so I should really talk…one of the joys of motherhood, making up the rules) and not from juice.
I started giving the kids juice in their lunch, because it takes too much time to stand in line and buy milk – they only have 15-20 minutes to eat their lunch, and semi-cold milk in a lunch box is really not good. I remember one day the girls came home – both of them, and told me that they hated apple juice. I was kind of shocked. Because they didn’t have juice growing up – when they would be at birthday parties – they would drink anything that remotely resembled juice, like it was going out of style. Needless to say, I stopped putting apple juice in their lunches. They both take water bottles to school – and sometimes would just rather just have water anyway.
Even though I am not a juice fan, I put cider in a completely different category. I love a good hot apple cider drink – with all those spices and complex flavors. It is the true sign of fall. I saw this recipe in the Food in Jars cookbook – and couldn’t wait for fall to come. I went to the farmer’s market to buy the apple cider from the best apple stand at the market. It came in this beautiful glass bottle – and it was amazing. I knew this was going to make incredible jelly. I was a little nervous at first, because it was my first attempt by myself to make jelly – and I overcooked my first batch. It was still edible, but it got a little more firm than it was supposed to. The next batch though, I watched the thermometer like a hawk, did the plate test – and it came out perfectly. The girls LOVE this jelly – even with peanut butter. It is definitely the best jelly I have ever made…oh right, it is the only jelly I have made. So maybe I didn’t bring my kids up on apple juice, but now they are being brought up with mulled cider jelly – now maybe I can be in the running for the best mom ever, instead of the mom that deprived her kids of juice.
- 3 cups of sugar
- 1 (1.75 ounce/50 g packet) powdered pectin
- 4 cups fresh pressed apple cider
- zest of 1 orange
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
Fill your canning pot with water and begin to bring it to temperature. Wash your jars and rings in warm soapy water and set aside. Put your lids in a small pot of water and heat (but do not boil) in order to soften the sealing compound.
Measure the sugar into a blow. Whisk the powdered pectin into the sugar to blend. In a large, nonreactive pot, combine the apple cider and the pectin-spiked sugar. Add the orange zest and spices. Bring to a boil and cook over high heat for 15-25 minutes, stirring frequently, until the volume in the pot is greatly reduced. While you continue to stir, clip a candy thermometer to the pot and watch until the pot reaches 220 degrees F. There will be a great deal of foaming and bubbling before it reaches this point. It should look thick and syrupy and the bubbles should look glossy.
Test the set of the jelly using the saucer test (place a saucer in the freezer when you start – when you think the jam is done, place a drop on the plate and return to the freezer for 1-2 minutes, it should wrinkle when you push on it). If it doesn’t pass, return the pot to the heat and cook for an additional 5 minutes before repeating the test. When the jelly has reached the desired consistency, turn off the heat and fill the jars. Wipe rims and apply lids. Screw on the bands and lower into the water. Process in the hot water bath 10 minutes. When time is up, remove from water and cool on the counter. When the jars are cooled, check the seal by pressing on the top of the jar. If there’s no movement, the jar has sealed. Store up to one year in a cool, dark place.
Makes 4 pints (yield varies depending on width of pot, cooking length and juiciness of fruit).
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