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 Butter} Cooking with Pumpkins pt. 2

Sometimes I think pumpkin is a forgotten delight that is only appropriate served in the fall.  Honestly I love it all year long, but I do not care for it from a can.  This is why when pumpkins hit the market I cook up as many as possible and preserve what I can for use during the year!This is of course after I have decorated with them.

 

One of my favorite treats to make with fresh pureed pumpkin is pumpkin butter.  I know, it’s not a commonly heard of item and is only found at Cracker Barrel & grocery stores during the fall, but Pumpkin Butter is so good!
And, it’s super easy to make!

 

3 1/2 cups fresh pumpkin puree
3/4 cup apple cider
2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 1/2 cups white sugar
Don’t you just love the color of fall spices?

If you need a refresher on making pumpkin puree, click here for Cooking with Pumpkins part 1.

Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan; stir well.  Bring the mixture to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until thickened, stirring frequently.
Transfer to sterilized jars or freezer containers.  Store in the refrigerator until using.
Will keep for 6 months in the refrigerator, if you process it.  The National Center for Home Food Preservation recommends that you not keep it (or any winter squash) that has been pureed in a pantry, unless you pressure can it.

**If you just ladle into jars for use, it only keeps about three weeks.
Serve it up on hot biscuits or bagels, on your oatmeal, on Brie cheese, on a sandwich, on muffins, or my personal favorite, in pumpkin cheesecake!
But, You’ll have to wait on that recipe!
Linking up with Foodie Friday & On the Menu Monday this week!
 

Old Fashioned Blackberry Jam w/ Orange Zest

Audley’s precious grandmother passed away over the weekend, leaving a legacy of a life well lived.

Audley was blessed to speak at her memorial service on Tuesday and quoted scripture from Hebrews 13:2 during his beautiful tribute.

 

That was Granny Odessa;  a woman who served others.  In fact she was such a servant that one time she made a dozen or so sandwiches and a cooler of tea and carried it out to the convicts on a pick-up crew working the road in front of her house!  She even went so far as to tell them that “if that wasn’t enough just come on up to house and I’ll fix more!”
Oh, how she loved to do for others, never once thinking of herself!

Some of my favorite memories of Granny Odessa include picking blackberries and muscadines with her each summer, then making jam (we did this until last summer).  Not only did we make regular jam, but we would also make diabetic jam, fruit spread, bread to accompany jam, or just separate berries and muscadines for those who wanted to eat only fruit and then we would deliver to people she knew throughout our little community.

Actually delivery went a little more like this: “George (Audley’s late grandfather) run this to Snook’s house, and on your way home pick up some chicken at Save-A-Lot.”

So today, I just had to share my blackberry jam recipe.  We didn’t get to pick together this summer, but I was able to share with her what I made several weeks back before she she made the sharp turn downhill.

5 cups crushed blackberries
1 package powdered (1.75 oz.) fruit pectin (I used Mrs. Wages)
2 Tablespoons Orange zest
Juice from 1/2 orange
7 cups sugar

**Prepare the canner, jars and lids.  If you need tips to help with this you can click here.

 

**In a large saucepan, add your berries and smash with a potato masher to release all of their juices.  Add the orange zest and juice, then whisk in the pectin until it is dissolved.

**Bring the mixture to a roaring boil, stirring to keep from sticking.  Add all of the sugar at once, stir,  and return to a boil.  Stirring continuously, boil for about a minute.  Move from the hot stove and skim the foam from the top.

**Ladle the jam into the prepared jars, leaving about a 1/4-inch space front he top.  Wipe down the jars with a dampened cloth before screwing on the lids.

**Process in a canner about 10 minutes.  Remove from water and allow jars to cool and seal before storing.

Homemade jam has been quite a hit in our home this summer.  From bread and jam for breakfast to Peanut Butter & Jam for a snack, the whole family has its favorite flavor to satisfy any craving.

I love to make a little extra jam to share as gifts.  Jam makes a great hostess gift when my children are spending the night away from home.  



I’m linking up with Foodie Friday this week. Drop in at Designs By Gollum for more delicious dishes.

Vidalia Onion Jam

After a most adventurous week, I am finally finding a few minutes to sit and write.  It has been a seriously crazy and emotional week that kicked off with the girls and I suffering from what we were pretty sure was food poisoning.  My in-laws arrived late Monday night, and Tuesday Audley had his heart cath.  All of our prayers were answered and any issues he has been having with his heart hopefully will be corrected with cardiac therapy.  No blockages or issues with the muscles.  God has definitely blessed us and I am glad this nightmare is over!
Last week while making strawberry jam, I also took the time out to make a little Vidalia onion jam since Vidalias have arrive from Georgia at last!  This a a true southern treat that everyone needs to try at least once!
  When I mentioned the jam, I got several questions regarding this scrumptious treat; the most common being “what do you serve it with?”
Oh!  Let me suggest a few ways!
*as a Hamburger topping
*a little on a grilled brie cheese sandwich
*on a New York Strip with a bite of blue cheese
*on top of a baked potato or stirred into mashed potatoes
*in an omelet
*to top a smoked bratwurst
*as an accompaniment to brie en croute
*enjoy with a little spinach quiche
*spread a little on a warm croissant
*or stand at the counter and eat it from the jar. 
{You can guess my favorite!}
 
I don’t really know how to describe this jam; it’s sweet and so savory, it’s a little tangy, and definitely the most unique condiment you could have in your refrigerator.
Here is all you need to make your own Vidalia Onion Jam:
 
8 cups thinly sliced Vidalia (or any sweet) onion
4 tablespoon butter
1 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 box (1.75 oz package) powdered pectin
1-2 Tablespoons fresh ground black pepper

 

 
Saute’ slice onion in the butter on medium-high heat until onions are wilted and transparent.  Add the Balsamic vinegar and reduce heat to medium-low; simmer about 35-45 minutes until balsamic reduces and onions are caramelized.  Stir occasionally to prevent sticking and burning.
After onions are caramelized, add both the brown & white sugar, stirring quickly, so that they begin to dissolve.  Also, add your red wine vinegar at this point.  Once sugar has dissolved, add your black pepper.  I like to really taste the pepper so I add a full 2 Tablespoons!
Bring mixture to a boil, stirring to keep it from burning.  Add 1/2 of a package of powdered pectin, mixing in well.  Allow to boil about one minute and remove from heat.
Ladle into prepared jars.  At this point you can process the jam to seal the jars or just put them in the refrigerator.  I did both just so I could keep mine longer.
Because I used butter to help caramelize the onions, as the jam cool the butter rises to the top of the mixture.  It’s fine as long as you are keeping it refrigerated.  This will keep about eight weeks.
To serve, I bring the jam to room temp, stir it, and then use it in any number of ways.
 Personally all of my family has fallen in love with the jam on top of a grilled pork tenderloin.
I just love the way it melts over the hot tenderloin and flavors it “oh!”, so richly!
Stored in a pretty jar this would also make a lovely hostess gift to any cook-out you are invited too this summer! 
 I am linking up with Foodie Friday today.  Skip on over and check out all the other luscious dishes featured this week!