Homemade apple jelly is a delicious and easy accompaniment to a traditional roast. 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: easy apple jelly!
It’s a straightforward preserve recipe and ideal for beginners. This is because apples are packed with pectin, which makes the jelly set well, without too much precision needed around setting point.
The colour of the juice, and therefore the jelly, will depend on the apples that you have used. We prefer a mix of sharp cooking Bramleys and some red apples. By leaving the skin on as the apples are stewed, you make sure that some of the colour transfers to the juice. I really love the delicate pale pink of our final apple jelly. As with all jellies, the cardinal rule is “don’t poke the jelly bag!” Doing so will result in a jelly that is cloudy.
Admittedly our jelly is a little cloudy. This is because we cooked and strained the apples, and then added another one to the top of the bag to add some colour.
How to Make Apple Jelly – Step By Step
Step 1 –Wash the apples and cut off any bruises but leave the skins on.
Step 2 – Stew the apples with the water until you have a soft purée. I help this along with a potato masher.
Step 3 – Transfer the apple pulp to the jelly bag, hang, and leave the juice to first run, then drip out. Wait until the jelly bag has stopped dripping – no poking, remember!
Step 4 – Weigh the resulting juice and transfer it to a saucepan. Then add a couple of sprigs of thyme and three quarters of the weight of liquid in sugar, and heat slowly to dissolve the sugar. While the juice is heating, put clean jars in a hot oven to sterilize.
Step 5 – Once fully dissolved, turn up the heat to bring the mixture up to a setting point. When the jelly is ready, remove the thyme. Transfer the jelly to the jars and position the sprigs of thyme in the apple jelly. Seal with the lids while still warm.
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 jelly to the setting point. 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 jelly 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 from the pan and turn it vertically to tip out the jelly. If the jelly 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 jelly is ready. Again, this works best with some practice.
Read our full guide to jam and jelly setting point
This apple jelly recipe joins our other apple-based preserves, including our small batch blackberry and apple jam and blackberry and apple jelly recipes. If you get bitten by the jelly bug, you may also like our easy beginners’ one pot blackberry jelly.
Unlike those last two, this apple 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
- Try other herbs aside from the thyme – sage and mint would work well.
- Add a dried chilli at the end of the cooking time.
- Sometimes we forget just how different the flavour of different apple varieties can be. 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 dried thyme per jar
- Wash the apples and cut off any bruises. Cut into 1.5" – 2" chunks. There is no need to peel and core.
- Put the apple chunks into a large pan, pour over a the water and cook on a low heat until soft and pureed. You can cover the pan, or leave uncovered.
- Transfer the pureed apple to a jelly bag and collect the juice as it drips out. Don't poke the jelly bag!
- Towards the end of cooking give the apples a mash with a potato masher.
- 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.