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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Pumpkin Spice French Toast

Halloween (& a MUCH need vacation to the Caribbean last week) is over and we are snowballing into the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays! I don’t know what the weather is where you are, but here in Georgia we have cooled off, the leaves are finally turning colors, and it’s been a wee bit rainy the last two days as we head into Saturday.

Before the rush of the holidays set in, it’s looking like a great weekend for breakfast or brunch in bed and I have a yummy recipe to fit the season and my mood… Pumpkin Spice French Toast!

Pumpkin Spice French Toast/Fiddle Dee Dee

With a little French bread, fresh pumpkin purée, eggs, vanilla and pumpkin pie spice you can whip this up in no time and savor a cozy weekend in.

Pumpkin SPice French Toast

Down time is so important for our health, well-being, and our marriages; we need to slow down and enjoy every moment we find together . I wish I had been better at this when my children were young, but honestly it’s always a good time to take better care of yourself and your relationships at home.

Pumpkin Spice French Toast Breakfast in Bed

There is absolutely nothing wrong with preparing a quick breakfast while in your pj’s and hopping right back into bed to share it with your spouse. A slow, flavorful breakfast in bed with your mate is just the perfect way to relax and enjoy time with one another before y’all become caught up in the busyness of the season! Tell the kids to watch cartoons, turn the phones off (unless you are waiting on a call from your Marine who has been in the field) and y’all laugh and talk together. It’s a cheap date worth taking. When you’re finished eating, toss the tray in the floor, allow the dog to lick the syrup of the plate and y’all take a nap!! Cherish a lazy Saturday morning. I know you need it!

Pumpkin Spice French Toast Breakfast in Bed

Click Pumpkin Spice French Toast to get the full printable recipe!

If you want to elevate this simple recipe, add whipped cream and pecans…. Oh yeah, it’s really delicious, and plan your late morning in bed!

Happy weekend y’all!

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Deep Dish Apple Crisp

Between picking apples with Audley as well as a trip back home for a visit with my Momma to one of our favorite orchards, we have a house full of apples right now! We have Granny Smith, Rome Beauty, Macintosh, yellow and red Delicious… so many flavors, which means there are so many ways to use them!

And Audley has been enjoying the many ways I’ve found to use all of nature’s bounty in baskets and on our kitchen table and on our cabinets….

Besides snacking on them, my oatmeal has been quite tasty the last several days as they make a yummy add-in. I also made some fabulous apple jelly and put up a few for later use.

Deep Dish Apple Crisp / Fiddle Dee Dee Blog

By far the absolute best way I’ve used the apples was in the apple crisp I whipped up for us to enjoy last weekend!

Y’all, it was absolutely delicious.

It was also so unhealthy.

But, It was so delicious!

What made this even better was mixing the different types of apples and their unique flavors to create a symphony in your mouth!  Combining the juicy tart flavor of a Granny Smith apple with a sweeter Rome Beauty is just the beginning of flavor.  Audley really loved the mixture of flavor.

It was THAT noticeable.

Deep Dish Apple Crisp

Making an apple crisp may seem difficult, but honestly, while it takes several steps, it is so easy to create.  Everyone will love you for it, and the unexpected ingredients raise this crisp far above any other you will taste! This recipe has the traditional ingredients of an apple crisp as well; oats, flour, vanilla, apple pie spice, etc… but the filling is really special. I mean who combines butter and heavy cream into the filling of their apple crisp?

I did, and it is over the top scrumptious!

And guess what?

The topping has butter in it as well.

Deep Dish Apple Crisp in Lodge pan

Whether you pick your own apples or buy them at the grocery store; mixed a variety of apple flavors or just stick to one, this apple crisp is perfect for your next potluck, family dinner, or to sit and eat in the corner, keeping it all to yourself!  If you show up to Thanksgiving dinner with this dessert you will be the family hero.

Apple Crisp / Fiddle Dee Dee

Y’all, I promise, it is that good!

You can find the full, printable recipe by clicking  Deep Dish Apple Crisp.

Bite of Apple Crisp / Fiddle Dee Dee

If you want to elevate the unhealthiness deliciousness of this recipe, Serve it warm topped with vanilla ice cream or homemade whipped cream.

Autumn Deep Dish Apple Crisp From Fiddle Dee Dee

After serving this, if you don’t hear from your husband for a while, he is probably passed out on the couch with football playing in the background in a dessert coma.

Take this moment to change the channel to Hallmark, savor your own dish of Apple Crisp, and enjoy the peace and quite.

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Georgia Backroads: BJ Reece Orchard

After a long, hot summer, autumn is the perfect opportunity to venture outdoors and enjoy the cooler temperatures.  Of course here in the South it just means it’s 90 degrees instead of 98, but we still look forward to the seasons change.  Throughout our marriage Audley and I have found many things to do to enjoy the fall and relish a little us time.  From hayrides and pumpkin patches to NASCAR races, the fall is our favorite season to venture out for time outdoors.  We hit the road this last weekend with a road trip on some of Georgia’s backroads into the North Georgia mountians and an apple orchard for a little apple picking!

While we’ve visited apple orchards over the years, this was the first time either of us had ever actually picked apples!  We couldn’t have chosen a more beautiful day, and to top it off, Granny Smith apples are in season!

BJ Reece Apple House & Orchards are located off of Hwy 52 in Elijay, just a two hour drive from Atlanta.

Little did we know apple picking was such a popular activity as the orchard was very busy.  Since I’m planning several things to do with my apples, we paid our $5 admission and then paid for the large bags for apple picking where most everyone else seemed to be there for the novelty and the extra activities around the orchard for the family…. not that there is anything wrong with that!

Finding the best apples was a challenge and like an egg hunt as we are a month into apple season, so many of the trees have been picked over!  Using the map of the orchard, we found a group of Granny Smith trees that had not been hit as hard, and loaded our first bag.  Besides snacking, I love to cook with these tart apples.  We also gathered Golden Delcious apples and Rome Beauties.  Using a variety of apple flavors (tart, sweet, etc,,,) makes cooking with them so delicious.

Strolling through the maze of apple trees, guessing varieties while we walked along was really enjoyable as we were able to talk and take pleasure in each other’s company without the interruptions of work and home. Cell service is spotty, so there were no interruptions from our grown kids either!  It’s outage season in the power plant construction industry, so any time we have to ourselves is treasured and very valuable.  Audley was able to leave work behind as we laughed and even acted silly as we picked apples. These are the moments we value and have helped keep our marriage of 23 years strong.

There were several family related activities around the farm from a zipline over the apple orchard to pig racing, but since we were on a date, we chose to skip those things.

Before you plan a trip to an orchard in the fall, remember a coupe of things:

{There were quite a few things I observed}

**Prepare for it to be busy and be patient,  Apple picking is a novelity and many parents bring their kids out to participate which can make for a little chaos.  There will be a line to get into the orchard as well as to check out in the Apple House.  Be kind and patient; it’ll make the day go so much more smoothly.

**Pick only the apples that are in season.  You can always call ahead to make sure your favorite apples are ready so that you don;t arrive and find yourself disappointed at the selection.

**Don’t take a bite off of an apple and then throw it down; this goes for your children as well.  I was truly disappointed in the amount of waste we saw. Juicy apples on the ground are a welcome mat for yellow jackets.  They will rot quickly and stink badly.

**Also remember to throw your trash away in the waste receptacles.  No one wants to walk through your mess.  Leave the orchards well kept for people to enjoy for years to come.

**I’ve never been a perfect parent, but there is a certain level of respect you should have for others around you when you are out with your children.  Please keep your kiddos under control as you spend the day at the orchard.  It’s not your personal backyard, a playground in a park, or even a zoo.  Children running wide open can cause calamity as older people also visit the orchard; it would be horrible for someone to fall because your kids are fighting or running willy nilly!

**Oh yeah, one last thing…. if there is a sign that says don’t use any ladders you might find in the orchard, it might be a good idea to keep that in mind, especially if you are wearing white jeans.

{Not that I would ever break a rule!}

While Audley and I really had fun together, if you are wanting a date without squealing, screaming and even crying children, a weekend date at the orchard may not be for you.  But, if you are pretty good at savoring any and all any activities as a couple, you’ll enjoy the orchard as much as we did!

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