Old-Fashioned Apple Jelly

My favorite orchard in North Alabama announced last call on apples over the weekend.

The trees are no longer producing quality fruits, and apple season is ending as the first frosts are threaten the South. This doesn’t mean you have to wait another year for that tasty autumn flavor! Nothing is as delightful (nor as cozy) as homemade jelly topping hot, flaky biscuits on a cold weekend for breakfast, brunch or even supper with the family!

Fresh Picked Orchard Apples

Apple jelly, while a little time-consuming, is really quite worth the small amount of work as you savor each bite throughout the year. I stepped out of my comfort zone this year and made our apple jelly without commercial pectin.

Did you know commercial pectin is actually a derivative of apples? This delicious fruit is loaded with natural sugars which make it an ideal experiment for old-fashioned jelly making.

Old Fashioned Apple Jelly

Taking about 6 pounds of Granny Smith and Rome Beauty apples, I chopped them up (core and all) and placed in a large stock pot with six cups of water. When choosing apples for your jelly keep in mind that tart apples (Granny Smith, Fuji, Honey Crisp) have more pectin. Also, the more an apple ripens, the less pectin it will have, so choose slightly underripe apples. This is where picking your own at an orchard comes in handy!

Apple Jelly Prep

I allowed my apple mixture to simmer about 25 minutes until the apples were nice and soft. Lining a colander with cheese cloth over a large bowl, I carefully and slowly poured the entire pot of apples and juice into it, allowing the juices to start draining so I didn’t overfill. I had about 7 cups of juice, which is slightly more than you need for this recipe.

Pulp for Apple Jelly

{Save what’s left, chill and drink it. The taste is unforgettably delicious !}

Fresh Apple Juice

Next, I added the juice to a large stockpot along with sugar and lemon juice, then brought it all to a boil. Even though your juice mixture might hit the 220° mark fairly quick, working without commercial pectin can be tricky. Test the jelly several times to see if it’s going to gel. Keep stirring it, so that it does not boil over while you’re waiting! To test for gel I took a cold spoon and dipped it into the boiling jelly, then dropped it over a cold plate. If the jelly forms a gel or began dripping very slowly, it’s probably ready. This was my first time making jelly without pectin, so there was a lot of uncertainty in my judgement!

Apple Jelly in Weck jars

Once the jelly was ready, I ladled it into sterilized jars, sealed with bands and lids, then processed in a water bath to seal them up for future use.

homemade apple jelly

Click Old Fashion Apple Jelly for the full, printable recipe.

Audley opened a jar the next day to top a Bojangles biscuit and deemed it absolutely perfect ! His seal of approval is all I need.

How do you preserve your favorite harvest flavors for later use? I would love to hear what your favorite ways to extend the season!

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