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October 21, 2013

How to Make Harvest Apple Jelly

How to make delicious apple jelly.

Autumn is my favorite season. When I think of autumn, I think of pumpkins, falling leaves, and apples. 

I picked two buckets full of apples from the one tree in our yard that produced this year. They were small; I did not want to have to peel those little apples, so instead of applesauce, this year I made apple jelly. While we aren't big jelly eaters, I use a lot of jelly in Crockpot sauces such as dump chicken, and my jelly cupboard is nearly empty. 

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Apple jelly is very easy to make. Here's how:

Slicing apples from our fruit trees to make harvest apple jelly.

Wash the apples well. I used about 1/3 of the apples I'd picked, enough to fit in my crockpot. I let them soak in a sinkful of water with a splash of apple cider vinegar in it, for about 30 minutes. I removed the stems from the apples, and cut them in half or quarters, depending on the apple's size. I did not peel or core them. Into my crockpot they went, and I added enough water to cover, about 4 pints.

Juicing the apples to make harvest apple jelly.

I let this simmer all day long. I love my Crock-pot (affiliate link) which tends to the cooking while I do other things. When the apples were soft enough, I used my potato masher to smoosh the fruit and release more juice and flavor. After dinner, I strained the liquid from the apples, then returned the liquid to the Crock-pot and left the lid off to simmer it awhile longer and reduce it down a bit. Ultimately I had about 3 pints of juice.

The Ball Blue Book (affiliate link) says to drain the juice in cheesecloth or a jelly bag, and not to squeeze the bag. Squeezing will give you cloudy juice. I just used my strainer, and yes, I did get cloudy jelly, but it doesn't matter to us if it's perfectly clear or not.

To make the jelly, we'll switch to a saucepan on the stove. A slow-cooker won't maintain the hard rolling boil that you need for jellymaking. Let's begin...

Tools that make canning easier

Gather your canning equipment: water bath canner with rack, clean jars, lids, rings, jar grabber (on the right in the photo). Check the jars for any chips in the rims. Keep the jars warm - I keep them in a sinkful of hot water until needed.

Keep your canning jars in warm water until the jelly is ready to pour.

Fill the canner about half full of water and bring to a simmer - filling hot jars with hot jelly and placing in hot water in the canner will help prevent breakage.

Keep the canning jar lids warm until the jelly is ready to pour.

Put the lids in a saucepan of warm water to soften the rubber. (I alternate the lids - one up, one down, etc - so that they don't nest together. It's much easier to remove them from the hot water one at a time.)

Measure the apple juice, and add 3/4 cup of sugar for each cup of juice. I had 3 pints of juice (6 cups), so I used 4.5 cups of sugar. You can add 1 teaspoon of butter to help prevent foam - I didn't do that and there's lots of foam in that kettle.

How to make harvest apple jelly. Boil the juice, sugar and pectin.

Boil the fruit and sugar for about an hour. Pectin isn't necessary for apple jelly, but the juice does require longer boiling than if commercial pectin were used. I boiled the juice for an hour, stirring to keep it from burning, then began testing the juice by putting a bit on a saucer and sticking it in the refrigerator for a few minutes. I had to test it twice, but when it was jelled on the plate after a few minutes in the fridge, the jelly was ready.

Ladle into hot canning jars using a canning funnel. Wipe the rims of the jars with a damp cloth to remove any drips, and set a new, flat lid on each jar; always use a new lid when you can something. Place a screw ring on each jar and tighten until it's "finger tight" - don't overtighten.

Place the filled jars of apple jelly in the canner.

Place the jars in your water bath canner using the jar grabber. Be sure the jars are covered with at least one inch of water. (How can you tell how deep the water is? Stick the handle of a wooden spoon into the water to the top of a jar. Pull it out, and the wet handle will tell you how deep it is.) If needed, add more boiling water.

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Cover the canner with the lid and turn up the heat on the burner. When the water begins to boil, begin timing. Apple jelly requires 10 minutes at my altitude. When the time is up, turn off the heat, remove the canner lid (away from your face so you don't get burned by the steam), and let the water cool down a bit before removing the jars.

Use the jar grabber to lift the jars straight up and out of the canner. Place them on a folded towel on the counter in a draft-free place. The lids should start "pinging" as the jars seal - music to my ears!

Harvest apple jelly.

Leave the jars undisturbed for 24 hours, then test the seal by gently pressing the lid with your index finger. If the lid bounces up and down, the jar did not seal and will need to be reprocessed (from the very beginning: the jelly heated up, put in a new jar with a new lid, etc) or kept in the refrigerator; if the lid remains firm when pressed, it sealed correctly. Now you can wipe the outside of the jars clean, remove the screw rings, and label the jars.

Mine tastes like an autumn day and the way that apples smell. Yours will depend on the flavor of the apples you use, and it not only varies by apple variety but also from year to year. May your apples always be yummy!

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  1. I adore apple jelly and am delighted that you made this in the crockpot. How easy is that?! :-)

  2. This year's apple jelly is especially delicious! Making the apple juice in the crockpot was easy, although the jelly itself was made on the stovetop.

  3. This looks so good! We like to go to a local apple orchard to get our apples and I might want to pick up some extras to try this recipe. Yum!

  4. Mmm, yummy! I've never tried making apple jelly but your crockpot recipe sounds great to try! Thanks for sharing!

  5. I need to add this to my list of jelly's to make next year. I bet your house smelled amazing while it was cooking too!

  6. Hi Staci! Yes, it did smell so good. While small, this year's apples sure were flavorful. I hope you'll give this a try next year.

  7. Yum, love fresh apple jelly - looks beautiful! I am delighted that you shared with Home and Garden Thursday,

  8. I will have to add this to my jelly making for next year! Thanks so much for posting this on my Handmade Christmas post! :)

  9. Thank you, Mary! I've really enjoyed your holiday series. :-)

  10. I love that this wonderful jelly can be made in the crockpot! I'm always a bit intimidated by canning, so thank you so much for sharing the step by step instructions, Kathy. Sharing on the H&S Facebook page. Thank you so much for being a part of the Hearth and Soul Link Party.

    1. April, water-bath canning isn't as scary and I hope you'll give it a try sometime. Thank you for sharing the post!

  11. I have apples that I need to deal with today. I'm planning on applesauce and cider, but maybe I'll have to try making some of this too. The kids always get excited about trying new jelly!

    1. And this one tastes to good, too!

  12. It's great to have another use for apples. I've never made apple jelly so I'm pinning for future reference. Thank you for the clear instructions and great photos!

    1. I hope you'll give this a try, Michelle. It's tasty!

  13. This sounds heavenly and I love the "one up, one down" tip for the lids. Why did I never think of that, haha! Thanks so much for sharing this with us on the Homestead Blog Hop!

    1. That tip sure makes canning easier, Ann!

  14. I love the idea of the crock pot! I can't wait to try this with the apples I just picked! Thanks for sharing at our apple week link up ,for celebrate 365! I needed this post! Jan@ Tip Garden!

    1. This is The Best Jelly, Jan! You'll love it.


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