Last weekend I was part of a bulk buy, with quantities of everything from strawberries and peaches to basil and garlic available from local farms. I pored through the list and decided to stay calm and order one precious case of Honeycrisp apples, though I added and removed jalapenos and pears twice from my order before making it final. (Glad I stayed strong on the latter, since I found some yesterday for almost half the price!) My friend M and I picked up our fruit from the buy coordinator on Sunday afternoon on our way home from the river and I… couldn’t believe how many apples come in a case. I don’t know what I was expecting, but 20 lbs. is a lot. No fear, because unlike look-at-them-wrong-and-they-bruise apricots and peaches bought during the “heat wave”, apples have staying power and I had time to plan.
I bought Honeycrisps because they are my favorite eating apple available in WA; I grew up on Macs and Cortlands and prefer a crisp, slightly tart variety. Tops on my to-do list was having enough to snack on for a few weeks. I also love love love homemade applesauce and wanted to make enough to freeze, and I set a few apples aside for experiments with oven-drying and dehydrating. (Both experiments worked, but my dehydrator is so tiny/old it’s not a very productive project.) Having portioned out enough for all these plans, I found that I had more to use and started hunting online for recipes. I found a conserve to make, though I may wait for Jonagolds and Pink Ladies for that. I found this recipe for spiced apples from Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Kitchen and made a batch, and then I kept reading her site and discovered apple pie jam. Oh, happy day! My over-jammed husband has already eaten an entire jar, since Saturday, of this magical stuff because it tastes like apple pie. On your toast. Spreadable apple pie. And it’s gluten-free, and it’s in the cupboard, ready to eat whenever you want apple pie and don’t want to make crust. Do you need more incentive to make a batch?
Though the recipe from Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Kitchen is very intuitive and clear, I made a few changes and the recipe below shows my variation. The batch made 7 half-pints, and I could have squeaked out an additional 4 oz. jar if I played my cards right. I plan to make another batch very soon and will use even less sugar, probably removing another full cup. You make it either way and I bet it will be pretty amazing stuff. I can’t wait to experiment with making turnovers or hand pies with this as a filling, maybe with some fresh apple sliced on top. For now, if I can keep pace with R, I’ll have a treat for breakfast on toast, an English muffin or oatmeal.
Apple Pie Jam (adapted from Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Kitchen)
- 4 – 6 crisp apples* (I used 3 Honeycrisp and 1 Gala)
- 2 T. lemon juice
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 3/4 tsp. ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1 box of Sure-Jell pectin for low- or no-sugar recipes, or equivalent
- 3 c. sugar
- 1 c. brown sugar, packed
Prepare your water bath and sterilize jars and lids. Prepare the apples by washing, peeling, coring and dicing them; pack them firmly into a 4 c. measuring cup and fill the space in between (up to the 4 c. line) with water. Pour the apples and water into a Dutch oven, jam pan or similar; the cooking process can get messy, so make sure you have an abundantly large cooking vessel! Add lemon juice, spices and pectin and mix well; heat the apple mixture over medium-high heat until you reach a rolling boil that can not be stirred down. Add both kinds of sugar, all at once, and continue stirring as you bring the jam back to a rolling boil. Boil for exactly one minute while you stir constantly; be careful of splattering, molten jam. Remove the jam from the heat and ladle into hot jars; wipe the rims carefully, affix flat lids and rings and process in the water bath for 10 mins. Remove the jars to a clean, towel-lined counter and allow them to sit undisturbed overnight. Check to see that the jars have sealed; properly sealed jars should keep in a cool, dry area for up to a year.
*Depending on the size of your apples, you may need more, and it never hurts to have apples in the house. Use a mix of varieties you like to eat.