Homemade apple jelly is a delicious accompaniment to a traditional roast, or add a spoonful to a casserole for a hint of sweetness and extra flavour. We’ve added a sprig of thyme to ours, but it is just as delicious without!
Small Batch Apple Jelly
Autumn or fall; whichever side of the Atlantic you’re on, it’s the time of year for preserving. We’ve been making a lot of small batch jams and preserves recently, and this is the latest on that list: apple jelly!
It’s a straightforward preserve recipe ideal for beginners, and in particular, the have high pectin content of apples make it really easy to determine the setting point.
Like all jellies, the cardinal rule is “don’t poke the jelly bag!” – doing so will result in a jelly that is cloudy. Wash the apples and cut off any bruises. Stew them until they’re soft – I help this along with a potato masher. Then transfer to the jelly bag, hang, and leave the juice to first run, then drip out.
Admittedly our jelly is a little cloudy – this is because we cooked and strained the apples, then added another one to the top of the bag to add some colour.
The colour of the juice will depend on the apples that you have used. We prefer a mix of sharply flavoured cooking Bramleys and some red apples. By leaving the skin on as the apples are stewed, some of the colour transfers to the juice; I really love the delicate pale pink of our final jelly.
Once the jelly bag has stopped dripping – no poking, remember! Weigh the resulting juice and transfer it to a saucepan, add a couple of sprigs of thyme and three quarters of the weight of liquid in sugar, and heat slowly to dissolve the sugar. Once fully dissolved, turn up the heat to bring the mixture up to a setting point.
3 ways of testing Jelly setting points
- The temperature test. Really accurate electronic jam thermometers are readily available, and not too expensive. They are much easier to read than traditional jam thermometers. Heat the jam to the setting point and once it’s there, you know it should be ready. Caution – your simmering preserve will have some hot spots, use temperature as a guide and test with a second method too.
- The wrinkle test. Place a couple of side plates in the freezer before you add the sugar. Once the jam is boiling, start testing by placing some on the plate. Allow it to cool; when you push your finger through, you’ll see it wrinkle up ahead of your finger. This technique takes a bit of practice.
- The flake test. Take a spoonful of jam from the pan and turn it vertically to tip out the jam. If the jam runs off, it hasn’t set. If, however a little remains on the spoon in a sort of wide drip that doesn’t fall, then the jam is ready. Again, this works best with some practice.
This recipe joins our other apple based preserves, like our small batch blackberry and apple jam and blackberry and apple jelly recipes. And if you get bitten by the jelly bug you may like our easy beginners one pot blackberry jelly.
Unlike those last two, despite the sugar this is jelly is best used in a savoury context. How about serving with roast pork as a change from apple sauce? Or add a spoonful to a casserole to add some sweetness and layer on the flavour. But whatever you do with it, it’s worth having a couple of pots in the cupboard.
Small Batch Apple Jelly Recipe – Ingredient Ratios
- 2/3 the weight of water to apples
- 3/4 weight of sugar by volume of juice
Apple Jelly Recipe – Flavour Ideas
- Try other herbs aside from the thyme – sage and mint would work well
- Add a dried chilli at the end of the cooking time
- Mix up the apples you use!
Apple Jelly with Thyme
- 900 g apples
- 600 ml water
- 700 g sugar (approximately) (see method – the exact weight depends on the volume of liquid extracted from the fruit)
- 1 sprig thyme
- Wash the apples and cut off any bruises. Do not peel them.
- Stew the apples with the water until soft and pureed. You can help this along with a potato masher.
- Transfer the pureed apple to a jelly bag and collect the juice as it drips out. Don't poke the jelly bag!
- Measure how much juice you have. Put the juice in a large pan. Add three quarters weight of sugar to the volume of juice, i.e. if you have 600 ml juice, add 450 g sugar. Add a sprig of thyme.
- Heat slowly to dissolve the sugar. (Sterilize your jars in the oven while you wait.) Once the sugar has dissolved, take out the thyme and turn up the heat until the apple jelly has reached a setting point.
- Allow to cool slightly and transfer to warm sterilized jam jars. Put the thyme into the jars. Seal.