Sunday, June 12, 2011

Apple Peel Jelly

Frozen peels from our beautiful N.C. apples
Although we love to compost veggies, fruit, egg shells, and coffee grounds, it is always nice when you can find something to do with fruit scraps that would otherwise be headed to the compost pile. If your house is anything like ours, you might be able to accumulate a lot of apple and pear peels. Over the course of a month or so, we collected two gallon freezer bags full of apple cores and peels - ready to be simmered and turned into apple peel jelly! Amazing. Camp Brighton often requires its campers to make their own lunches ... and sometimes the campers kindly provide lunch for the head counselor. Why not make a yummy sandwich with apple peel jelly or top some crackers with goat cheese and jelly? Delicious!

I scoured around the internet to figure out the best way to make apple peel jelly. Because apple peels naturally have pectin in them (the main ingredient to help make jellies gel), I figured it shouldn't be too hard to make this concoction work for us. Fittingly, the best recipe I found came from Backwoods Home Magazine. Far, far, far from the backwoods, this recipe even worked in our little urban oasis here in Charlotte...

How To Make Apple Peel Jelly:

Strain the liquid
Place apple peels, lightly packed, into a 4.5 qt. pot with 5 cups of water. There should be about 3-4 inches of peels in the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and boil for 15 minutes, stirring as little as possible. Remove from heat, put the lid on the pot, and allow to stand overnight. (Optional, add a cinnamon stick when you let it sit overnight.) Strain the liquid into a measuring cup, and make certain you have 5 cups. Return to the pot. Gradually dissolve 1 box of pectin into the liquid and bring to a full rolling boil, over high heat. Add 7 cups of sugar (all at once), stirring to dissolve. Return to boiling, and boil hard for 1 minute.

Pour into sterilized canning jars - I sterilize mine by running them through the dishwasher. I like to use the 1/2 pint Ball jars (you can pick them up right at Harris Teeter if you are in my neck of the woods). Tightly seal with new lids. Because I do not have a fancy pressure canner, I fill a large heavy-bottomed pot with water and bring it to a boil - I put a wire cake rack in the bottom of the pot so the glass jars don't touch the bottom. Using tongs, I place my jars into the boiling water, cover the pot, and let them sit in a hot water bath for about 5 minutes. Remove the jars carefully with the tongs and set aside. 

Fun Facts: Did you know that canning and preserving have been seeing a huge resurgence in popularity? Not only is canning fun, inexpensive, and delicious, but it is also practical and helps promote a more sustainable local food system...if you love those local blueberries now, think how great they might taste come mid-December when you can have a little blueberry jam on your morning toast! Click here for a recent story on NPR about canning swaps in New York, or check out The City Cook: The Essential Kitchen website for some more specific information if canning and preserving seems to really tickle your fancy. 

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