Monday, 26 October 2015

Apple Pie Jam

A couple of weeks ago I brought out my copy of The Canning Kitchen again.  My readers will remember that I had received a complimentary copy of this book from the author, Amy Bronee who is also the woman behind The Family Feedbag blog.  Before getting this cookbook I was a canning newbie but in the past few months I have made three of her recipes - Red Pepper Jelly, Strawberry Jam and now this Apple Pie Jam, each with amazing results. I've become a canner -- and my family couldn't be happier!  

Lately though I actually feel like the Jam Warden because I keep warning my teenage boys to go easy on our strawberry jam which they are inhaling with so much gusto that we will most definitely run out of said jam before the new strawberry crop next year.   It's wonderful that they love the jam that I've made but I'm going to have to up my strawberry jam making next summer to meet with their demand! 

Since getting this book I had been impatiently waiting for apple season!  As soon as the season was upon us I headed to my local farmer's market and chatted up the apple vendors.  Who knows apples better, right?  The farmer suggested I use Gala for the sweetness and some Spartans to balance things out and he was right.  This jam is deeeelicious!!  We've eaten it on toast, bread, straight from the jar (no judgement, Brad) and plan to warm it up a bit and put it over vanilla ice cream!  Apple pie in jam form, y'all! You cannot go wrong with that!  

As in my previous review post of her cookbook, The Canning Kitchen, I highly recommend this cookbook for people new to canning and old hands at this down home kitchen art. Enjoy!

Apple Pie Jam
Source: The Canning Kitchen, page 22
Updated: Nov 6, 2016

3lbs (1.4kg) pie apples, such as Gala or Granny Smith (see Note below)
1 cup (250mL) water
2 tbsp (30mL) lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp (7 mL) cinnamon
1 package (57g) regular pectin powder
4 cups (1L) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (125mL) brown sugar

Note: I used 1.5lbs of Gala and 1.5lbs of Spartan

Remove and discard the apple peels and cores.  Dice the apples, adding them to a large, heavy-bottom pot.  Pour in the water and lemon juice.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, for 10 to 15 minutes until the apples are soft.

Crush with a masher to a smoother but still chunky consistency.  Stir in the cinnamon and pectin powder.  Bring the works back up to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently.  Stir in the granulated and brown sugars.  Bring the works back up to a boil again over high heat.  Maintain a hard bowl for 1 minute.  Remove the jam from the heat.  Stir for 5 minutes to cool a little and prevent floating fruit.

Ladle into six 250mL (1 cup) jars, leaving a 1/4-inch (5mm) headspace.  Process in a boiling water bath canner for 15 minutes using the Processing Checklist (on page 17 in the book).

Processing Checklist
1. Fill jars - make sure your canning jars are spotlessly clean before using, and inspect them for chips and cracks that could lead to breakage or prevent a good seal.  Sterilizing jars is not necessary for the recipes in The Canning Kitchen.  If you will be filling your jars with hot preserves, keep them in hot water until just before filling to avoid sudden temperature changes that could crack the jars.  For cold-packed preserves such as dill pickles, start with room-temperature jars.  A ladle and canning funnel will help filling jars quick and tidy.

2. Check headspace - Headspace is the gap between the top surface of the food and the rim of the jar.  The correct amount of headspace ensures a strong vacuum seal as jars cool.  Some foods, such as jams and jellies, expand less during processing than whole or sliced foods like tomatoes and peaches, so follow the recommended headspace for each recipe.  Too much headspace could lead to a weak seal and too little headspace could cause foods to spill out onto the jar rim during processing, also preventing a good seal.  A headspace measuring tool will help you quickly and easily check for accuracy.

3. Remove air bubble - If the recipe recommends removing air bubbles, poke a non-metallic utensil inside each jar a few times to release any pockets of air.  Use a plastic knife, wooden chopstick, narrow rubber spatula or headspace measuring tool/bubble remover to do the job.  Do not use a metal knife or spoon, which could crack hot jars.  After removing bubbles, check the headspace again and top up with more of the preserves if necessary to reach the recommended headspace.

4. Wipe jar rims - Use a clean, damp cloth or paper towel to remove any food spills from the jar rims before securing the lids.  Bits of food or stickiness between the lid and the glass rim could prevent a seal during processing.  It's also a good idea ti wipe away food spills from around the jar threads where the screw bands come into contact with the glass.

5. Screw on the lids - Follow the manufacturer's instructions on the packaging for preparing lids for processing.  Position new flat lids over the clean jar rims and secure in place by twisting on the screw bands just until fingertip tight, which is just past the point of no resistance.  Not too tight - some air will need to escape during processing.

6. Lower jars into the canner - It's a good idea to fill your canner with water and set it over high heat at least 20 minutes before you need it so it'll be boiling when the jars are ready to be processed.  Larger canning pots may need longer for the water to come to a boil.  If using a jar lifter, secure it under the neck of each filled jar to transfer it into the rack, keeping jars level to prevent food from spilling onto the jar rim.  When the rack is lowered, make sure there is at least 1 inch (2.5cm) of water above the jars.  You may want to keep a kettle of boiling water handy in case you need to top up the water level once you lower your jars into the canner.  Keep your canning pot covered with a lid when not moving jars in and out to maintain high heat and reduce evaporation.

7. Start timing - Wait until the water in the canner returns to a full biol before you s tart timing.  Follow the recommended processing time for each recipe.  Check the altitude chart for timing adjustments if you live more than 1000 feet (305 metres) above sea level.  When processing time is up, turn off the heat and remove the lid.  Leave the jars in the canner for 5 more minutes.

8. Remove the jars from canner - Granite, marble and other cool surfaces can crack hot jars, so line the kitchen counter with a kitchen towel if necessary.  Remove the processed jars form the canner, keeping them level, and place them on the kitchen counter.  Leave a little space between the jars for air circulation.  Leave the jars on the counter to cool for 12-24 hours.  Some jars will seal right away, making an obvious popping sound as they do.  Others may take longer to seal. Do not tighten the screw bands while the jars are cooling.

9. Check seals -  Once the jars are fully cooled, press the middle of each lid to check for vacuum seal. If the centre of the lid is suctioned down, your jar has safely sealed.  Occasionally, for various reasons, a lid won't seal and the centre will pop up and down when pressed.  Simply store that jar in the fridge and consume it first.  Screw bands are often loose after jars cool completely, which is perfectly normal.

10. Label and store - Label your jars with the contents and date.  New jars often come with a sheet of sticker labels, but you can also write directly on the disposable lid with a permanent marker.  Store canned foods in a cool, dark place and consume within 1 year.  Screw bands can be left on or removed during storage.  Opened jars must be refrigerated.  Plastic mason jar storage lids are commonly available in standard and wide-mouthed sizes and are useful to switch to once a jar is opened.

Tip from the author: Use your favourite pie apple to make this jam.  If you don't have a favourite, ask a friend who loves to make pie what variety they like best.  My favourite is Gala for its complex pear-like flavour when cooked.  You can use a mix of apples, too. Cinnamon is an apple-pie classic.  For something different, try adding a little ground nutmeg, ginger, cloves or allspice to find the spice blend you like best.

Disclaimer:  A big thanks to author Amy Bronee and Penguin Books for allowing me to reproduce this recipe here on my blog. 

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