How to Make Apple Jelly That Everyone Will Love
Easy Homemade Apple Jelly Recipe
Long gone are the days of having to thoroughly cook fruit in order to extract the juice to make a simple, great-tasting homemade jelly. You can still do it the old way if you want to and if you have the time, but in today's world, you don't have to take the long route to jelly anymore. I personally don't like having to wait for the juice to drip through the cloth, but if you like jelly in lieu of preserves or jam, having the juice of your favorite fruit is a must.
Choosing the right fruit juice will make or break your jelly. You want to choose a juice that is 100% fruit juice with no preservatives or additives. If you are conscious of GMOs, choose an organic apple juice to make your apple jelly. The better and higher quality the apple juice, the better the jelly will be. You can also use frozen apple juice to make this jelly. Just follow the directions for making the juice first.
Sugar is another important ingredient in jelly. I personally prefer Domino sugar for the simple fact that it is made with cane sugar instead of sugar beets. Some sugar beets have been genetically modified and I try to stay away from GMO products as much as possible.
There are different types of pectin that you can use to make apple jelly. Apples do have a lot of natural pectin in them. In fact, the pectin that you purchase at the store is derived from apples. The three main types of pectin to choose from are:
- Low sugar/sugar-free powder: This pectin is great if you don't like to have as much sugar in your jelly, jam or preserves. Some people complain that this type doesn't have the sweetness they like because they aren't using as much sugar.
- Regular pectin: In my opinion, this is the best type of pectin for the beginner. It is easier to work with because there aren't any needed adjustments in the recipes.
- Liquid pectin: It is regular pectin but in liquid form. This type is added toward the end of the cooking time instead of the beginning. I use it occasionally but I am always afraid that I'll add it at the wrong time in the recipe because of habit.
Pectin is usually available year round in grocery stores and online.
- 1 box pectin, I used regular in this recipe
- 7 cups high quality apple juice, 100% juice, no preservatives
- 9 cups sugar, I used Domino cane sugar in this recipe
- 10 1/2 pint canning jars
- 10 lids and rings for the canning jars
- Water bath canner for sealing jars
- Misc. canning tools tongs, towels and paper towel
Instructions for Homemade Apple Jelly
- You'll want to take the time to prepare everything ahead of time to keep the process going smoothly.
- Fill your water bath canner with water and put it on the stove over high heat. Bring it to a boil.
- You'll want to sterilize your jars. This can be easily done by dropping the clean jars into the water bath canner and allowing them to boil in the water for at least 10 minutes. Remove them with a pair of tongs and set them on a towel on your counter (never put a hot jar on a cold surface because it can easily cause the jar to break.).
- Set the rings aside but place the lids in an empty sauce pan. You'll use this pan to help soften the seals on the lids to seal the jars quicker. Remove the jars from the canner and pour some of the hot water out of the canner into the pan with the rings. This saves a bit of water and energy from heating up more water that isn't necessary. Plus, it's quicker! Leave the lids in the water until you are ready to use them.
- Measure out the 9 cups of sugar and put it into a bowl. Set aside.
- Measure and pour the 7 cups of apple juice into your pan. You'll end up with approximately 10 cups of jelly when the process is over so make sure that your pan can hold 10 cups of liquid with room for stirring.
- Turn the heat on medium-high. Add the powdered pectin to the apple juice and stir it in. Keep stirring the mixture until it comes to a rolling boil. A rolling boil is where the mixture continues to boil rapidly even when you are stirring.
- Add the sugar all at once and start stirring to mix it in. The sugar will drop the temp of the mixture so the boiling will stop. Keep stirring until it once again returns to a rolling boil.
- When the jelly is at another rolling boil, set a time for ONE minute. This is the critical part. You only want to cook it for ONE minute, at the rolling boil or you risk turning your jelly into hard candy. When your timer goes off, turn off the heat. (For an electric stove, completely remove the pan from the hot burner to stop the cooking.)
- There will be a foam on the top of the cooked jelly. You will want to skim that off with a metal spoon. It won't change the taste or consistency of the jelly but it will make it cloudy if you leave it. Ladle the jelly into your sterilized jars. Be sure to leave 1/4" head space at the top of each jar.
- Once all of the jelly has filled the jars, you'll want to wipe off any spillage from the rim of the jars with a clean, damp towel or paper towel. Jelly on the rims is the most common cause of seal failure.
- Place a warm lid on each jar and screw on the ring part of the lid, just finger tight.
- Once you have the lids on all of your jars, it's time to seal them. Place each jar into the water bath canner, being sure not to allow the jars to touch each other. If you have to do this in two batches, that's fine.
- Set your timer for 10 minutes and put the lid on the canner. Allow the jars to simmer in the canner for the entire 10 minutes.
- Once the time is up, remove the jars with a pair of tongs or a canning jar lifter, one at a time. Place on a towel or cooling rack on a table or your countertop. Again, do not put a hot jar on a cold surface because it can cause them to break.
- You will start to hear an occasion pop noise or a metal "tink" like noise. This is music to a canner's ears because it is the jars sealing.
- Leave the jars alone for 24 hours. After 24 hours, you'll want to carefully remove the band part of the lid (they will rust and become difficult to remove after a while if left on the jars) being careful not to disturb the sealed lid. Sealed jelly will last a long time. Some say for a year but I have had jars last even longer than that. If you have any jars that didn't seal, you can store them in the fridge and eat that jelly first.
- Your jelly may not set up right away and that's ok. Jelly can take as long as two weeks to completely set inside the sealed jars.
Common Problems With Making Jelly and How to Solve Them
Your first attempt at making jelly can be intimidating for some people. Contrary to popular belief, it isn't an exact science. As long as you follow the recipe directions, you should have a good end result. That's not to say that every batch will be perfect, because it won't be. Here are a few common "oopsies" in jelly making and how you can quickly solve them.
- I burned the mixture on the stove. Unfortunately, there is no fix for this one. If you burn the batch during cooking, you'll need to throw it out and start over because you can't get the burned taste out of the jelly, jam or preserves.
- My jelly didn't thicken. This is actually an easy problem to fix. Just put the jelly mixture back into the pan, add more pectin and start over with it. One thing to remember before you do this is to wait a couple of weeks. Sometimes a batch may be a slow setter for different reasons. Don't reprocess jelly until it has remained liquid for two weeks or more.
- I've filled all of my jars and I still have some left in the pan. What do I do with it? Now that's a pickle. Depending on the amount, you can pour it into a bowl and store in the fridge for immediate use. You can also do what I do. Put a couple of slices of bread in the toaster, whip out the butter and dispose of it by eating it while you are working on finishing the batch. Some jellies set up quick enough to do just that. I feel your pain with this little problem.