I was inspired by a post over at Supper in Stereo to try these Apples Jellies, a recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks The Art of Simple Food. Like all of Alice Water’s recipes this one is simple, allows you to utilize local, seasonal ingredients and is delicious. It is a real treat to watch a few pounds of apples slowly turn into squares of candy. There is something about the preservation of food that makes me feel really self-confident and capable. These little treats are supposed to keep for up to a year. It is like canning, in candy form. Like canning, this sort of recipe, which preserves a seasonal product, feels like a good use of resources and makes me confident I can prepare for the future. It also makes me feel connected to the rich history of cooking and preserving that came before me. If nothing else, it is good to add new skills to your cooking repertoire.
I started off with a variety of apples from the farmers market. There were so many to choose from so I think I ended up with 4 varieties—Northern Spies for sure. The apples get cooked until they are a soft mess and your home smells like apple cider and autumn.
After some more cooking of the apple puree, you spread it in a pan to cool and then you go about your life. In our case we went to the Chicago International Film Festival. We saw Wendy and Lucy, which was a truly incredible film. Go see it if it comes to your town. Back to apples…
The next day you are rewarded with perfect little blocks of farmers market apples.
- 3 pounds of apples (about 8), washed, quartered and cored
- 1 cup water
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- Juice of 1 lemon
Start by lightly rubbing an 8-by-8-inch square baking pan with a flavorless vegetable oil (canola or safflower). Line pan with parchment and lightly oil parchment.
In a large pot combine the apples and the water and cook over medium heat until soft, about 20 minutes.
Pass the mixture through a food mill or sieve. [I hope you have a food mill because I think trying to get this through a sieve sounds like hell. Although, Supper in Stereo tried this and they survived so maybe you will too.] Return the puree to the pot and stir in the sugar and lemon juice.
Simmer over low heat, stirring often, for about 1 hour. As the mixture cooks and reduces, it starts to thicken and bubble. Scrape the bottom of the pan while stirring to make sure nothing is sticking and burning. The puree is done when it holds a mounded shape. To be sure, you can chill a small amount on a plate in the freezer. It should appear and feel jellied.