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.
I haven’t made Jelly in a super long time, reading this has given me the nudge I need to make some more! Love the combo of Apple and Thyme, sounds heavenly. Thanks for sharing :)
Apple and thyme are such a perfect combination.
This sounds and looks great. I think I’d struggle to not poke the bag though lol. I will see if I can get all the bits in as I’d love to try and make it myself.
You’ll need a post-it note with “NO POKING” on it.
I love homemade jams and jellies…. This looks yummy!
I do love making our own jams and jellies.
Oh that is so pretty! I still have a basket of apples to process, and I couldn’t think of a better way to use them!
A great way to use apples, just make sure you cut any bruises off.
Sarah Irving | The Urban Wanderer
I love apple and thyme jelly – goes beautifully with vegan cheese. I tend to do a lot of my preserving in the summer when my soft fruit is ready and get to enjoy it in the winter on freshly made scones or teacakes. The temptation to poke the jelly bag is always a challenge even when you’ve done it in the past and know the results!
There is something far too tempting about that bag, and the need to poke.
Ooh, I would love to pair this jelly with roast pork. I have not tried making preserves yet, but definitely hope to start someday. I love all the tips you provided.
Making preserves is relatively easy, and the more you try it out, the easier it becomes. Always worth trying out.
What a gorgeous recipe! The color, the thyme sprig. I love it all!
Thank you, I was rather pleased with the colour.
Oh wow, what a delightful combination. I’m sure the whole family would love this xxx
thanks Laura, sweetly savoury!
Kaz | Ickle Pickles Life and Travels
This looks so delicious – it would make a lovely gift for a foodie too. Kaz
an ideal gift!
Now this sounds like my kind of recipe! I’ll have to try and make it at the weekend x
so easy and a great way to use up a glut of apples!
Ahh this recipe is perfect – so simple and easy, yet the perfect gift for someone who loves food. I think I’ve got a few people in mind that I’ll be making this for!
I think that well made foodie gifts are a delight!
This sounds lovely with a roast, My sister has an apple tree, could definitely make this.
So good with a roast, especially with a dollop in the gravy!
I feel like a kid being told not to poke the jelly and still end up doing it lol
Lovely recipe and never tried making preserves at home before
Poking that bag is SO tempting!
Hi, this recipe sounds yum. Does it matter what type of sugar you use?
You need white or golden sugar – the more unrefined sugars will add too much flavour and over power the apple.
I received a bag of Chinese pears from my friend. Do you think I could use these instead of the apples in this recipe?
Hi Johanna, I think it would work as Chinese pears have good pectin levels. If it doesn’t set then add some lemon juice and bring it to setting point again.
I love homemade jelly, always so tasty. This recipe was so easy to follow, and no, I didn’t poke the bag. Promise.
I have never thought of making homemade jelly but this sounds amazing. Also apple and thyme..bet that has a lovely taste
I love homemade jelly – all the flavour and meltingly smooth!
This apple jelly looks so delicious! I definitely need to try it with some roast pork!
it is AMAZING with roast pork!
We have not made apple jelly recipe in such a long time, thanks for the recipe, hope to give it a try soon.
Fantastic post on how to make jelly. Never made jelly before but after reading this I might just give it a go. Love the sound of apple and thyme.
It is fabulous
I’m loving your straining contraption. I made apple jelly once but struggled straining it with the equipment I have at home.
You can use a sieve lined with a tea towel, muslin cloth or even a pair of tights!
This looks utterly delicious! I’m going to bookmark and attempt to make it. It would make a wonderful Christmas gift.
Bella and Dawn at Dear Mummy Blog
We’d love to learn how to do more preserving and making jellies and jams. This apple jelly sounds amazing and we could see us using it with pork!
This sounds amazing!
Do you cut the apples before stewing, orleaven them whole?
Do you cover the pan while stewing the apples?
How high should the heat be while stewing them?
All clarified in the post
Hi Helen I am ‘juggler-John’ a postman in Chelmsford age 56. remember my mum making crabapple and Elderberry Jelly as a boy . So When somebody on my round gave me a bag of crabapples I knew exactly what I was going to do but had no idea how ! .- Of the two or three options on Google I found yours to be the one that was fun to read & added the most helpful deet’s.
You may find my improvised muslin cloth quite ingenious/hilarious ,as I didn’t have one and couldn’t be bothered to go shopping for one. I thought ,-“I know I’ll use that old green vest top!”
Then I simply screwed a hook into the ceiling above my kitchen worktop and it was good to go as it already had the shoulder loops.
So now I was All set , as I have been saving jars for months( I usually give them to the lady round the corner who does Jam making).
My Original 1 1/2 kg of crabapples produced five small jars of jelly. Hurrah !! ? I DID IT !!
. . . and yes , they are Completely translucent as I fought(with a will of iron)the urge to squeeze that vest top. ?
So Thank you for guiding me through the process so comprehensively I will definitely be making more jam/jelly from now on.
Thank you so much for the comment, it made my day, and gave me a much needed laugh! So pleased your jelly worked.
Delicious. The only problem is I have bubbles in the jelly. What did I do wrong?
I’m not quite sure. Possibly you let it cool too much before pouring it and it was too thick to release the bubbles. I think you need to pour it very gently. But I’m so pleased it at least tastes good!
I made this yesterday and unfortunately it is like eating pure sugar the apples are lost it’s so sweet. I actually halved the sugar as well. Total waste of time and money.
I’m sorry this didn’t work for you – it is a classic jelly recipe that I have made numerous times. It needs that much sugar both to set and to preserve the jelly. I wonder if you were looking for a jello type jelly that is a pudding, rather than a preserve to spread on bread or toast?
I have a question. The recipe calls for one sprig of thyme, which is then put into the jar. Presuming this recipe makes multiple jars, should one add the commensurate amount of sprigs to the recipe to soften them slightly or simply put fresh, washed thyme sprigs in the jars before filling?
Hi Karen, great catch, I’ve updated to say one dried sprig per jar.
I love the look of the thyme sprig in the jar, for gift giving. Is it a fresh sprig, or the one that was cooked in the juice?
Hi Ellen, it was a dried sprig.
Definitely going to make this, I haven’t had apple jelly in years. As kids my brother got us all hooked on apple and peanut butter sandwiches. :)
Quick question though, the directions say to put the pureed apples in the jelly bad, and then next to mash them towards the end of cooking next. Should those be the other way around?
You give the apples a quick mash before straining – once in the jelly bag let them do their thing
Hi can you please tell me what you do with the apple puree after extracting the juice? Is it good for something or do you throw it away?
I throw, or compost it.