Hello friends! Welcome to my new blog: Apples Apples Apples.
The over zealousness of my apple picking has prompted a name change and possible identity crisis. I'm pretty sure Hiro and I collected the entire contents of two trees and then started on a third before I ran out of Rubbermaid containers to put them in and/or room in my basement.
Last week I graced you with this over-the-top apple pie with a cheddar cheese crust and now I bring you a sweet, supple apple jelly flecked with fiery jalapeños and fresh cayenne chile slices. On Friday I will go back to being ¡Hola! Jalapeño and save you from the apple cider, caramel apple butter, apple whoopie pies, applesauce, apple-poppy seed slaw, and that other apple pie I made.
In a previous life I'm pretty sure I survived the Great Depression the way I like to hoard food. I can not under any circumstance turn down a grocery sack full of garden cucumbers, a jar of pickles, or in this case bucket after bucket of fresh picked apples no matter how much I really, really don't need them. I have this inner urge to gather and store so either I lived through the Great Depression or I was a squirrel.
I'm really leaning toward my Great Depression theory because not only do I accept any offering of food I also am an avid canner. This time of year my canning pot lives permanently on the stove and plans can change on a dime if say, I've finally gathered enough tomatoes to fill the quart jars and they need to be canned. Like Right Now!! (Sorry about that family......)
This is the first year I've attempted apple jelly and I don't have any idea what has taken me so long. It is the most soft, luxurious jelly with that fresh-picked smell of crisp, raw apple. I added spicy jalapeños and fresh cayenne chiles to it because hot pepper jelly is one of my favorite afternoon indulgences. A thin shear of hot pepper jelly over some cream cheese on a seeded cracker satisfies my every mid-day desire.
Last week when I was testing the cheddar cheese crust for my apple pie I found myself shamelessly over-snacking on the scraps. Pie crust cookies are absolutely a thing, but have you ever had pie crust crackers? The salty cheese in the crust makes an amazing cracker, especially topped with crunchy, nutty sesame seeds.
Like we used to say back in the GD..... Never let a good thing go to waste!
Apple Hot Pepper Jelly + Cheddar Pie Crust Crackers
Adapted from Blue Ribbon Preserves by Linda J. Amendt
If you want absolutely clear jelly you can go through another straining process after running the juice through the cheesecloth. Line a cone sieve with a paper coffee filter and strain the juice again. Cover the juice and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Ladle the juice into another container, being careful not to disturb any sediment at the bottom. Strain this juice through a new coffee filter 2 to 3 more times to catch any sediment.
Makes 8 to 9 Half-Pint Jars
For the Apple Juice:
5 pounds fully ripe tart apples, cored and chopped
4 cups water
For the Jelly:
5 cups apple juice
9 jalapeños, minced (seeds removed if you want it less spicy)
4 fresh cayenne or thai bird chiles, thinly sliced (seeds removed if you want it less spicy)
7 cups granulated sugar
1 (3-ounce) pouch liquid pectin
To make the juice, combine apples and water in an 8-quart stock pot. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat then reduce the heat, cover and simmer until soft, about 20-30 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and let sit 30 minutes.
Place a fine mesh sieve over a large pan or bowl. Ladle the cooked apples in to the sieve and strain the juice from the pulp. Discard the pulp. Rinse the sieve thoroughly and line it with 3 to 4 layers of clean, damp cheesecloth.
Strain the juice through the cheesecloth 2 times, rinsing the cheesecloth between each straining. Measure 5 cups of juice.
To make the jelly, wash 9 to 10 half-pint jars, lids, and rings in hot soapy water; rinse. Fill a large stock pot (preferably a canning pot) with water. Attach a candy thermometer to the side and set over medium-high heat. Place clean jars and lids in the water to heat. Watch the thermometer and heat the water to 200°F. Once it reaches the correct temperature, make sure to raise or lower the heat to keep it there.
Meanwhile, heat the juice in a separate 8-quart stock pot over medium heat until just warm. Add the sugar and chiles and heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar is completely dissolved. Increase the heat to medium-high and brin gthe mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly.
Stir the entire contents of the pectin pouch. Return the mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Remove pot from the heat.
Quickly skim off any foam and immediately ladle the hot jelly into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe the jar rims and threads with a clean, damp paper towel. Cover with hot lids and apply screw rings. Process half-pint jars in a 200°F water bath for 10 minutes, pint jars for 15 minutes.
Remove the jars from the water and set aside to cool. Once cool, check to see that the lids have sealed by pressing down on the middle of the lid, it should not pop back under your finger. If it hasn't sealed properly you can store the jar in the refrigerator for up to 3 months. The sealed jars will keep, unopened for 1 year.
Cheddar Pie Crust Crackers
1 recipe or scraps from Cheddar Cheese Pie Crust
1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water
1/4 cup sesame seeds
Heat oven to 400°F.
Roll out pie crust to 1/4-inch thick and cut into strips or shapes. Lay crackers in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Bake until crisp and golden, about 10-15 minutes.