Thursday, November 18, 2010
CanJam # 11 Spiced Apple Rum Jelly
The year is winding down and winter is knocking at our door. We haven't seen snow yet in Toronto but it won't be long. The frosty weather and waning daylight makes me crave warm beverages like apple cider and mulled wine, not only for the taste but for the smell of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and allspice simmering on the stove.
Our choices for CanJam # 11 included apples, pears and quinces. I'm still dying to try working with quince but have yet to discover a source for them. I have a few pears left but I'm still hoping to sugar dry them- it's a lovely way of preserving but it doesn't involve canning. So that left apples of which I have copious amounts left from the last renegade pick. Turns out my apples are a variety of Delicious apples- I didn't recognize them because apparently I have never actually tasted a Delicious apple until now. Those deep red tasteless things they sell in supermarkets bear no resemblance to the intense flavour and colour of these gems. The tree I picked them from is likely close to a century old. It's the tallest apple tree I've ever seen, towering over the three story building it grows beside. I could pick only the lowest branches even with a ladder and picking pole; most of the fruit I gathered was windfall which thanks to the muddy ground below was intact and bruise free. I ended up with about 60 lbs of apples from two picks that way. If the building is still unoccupied next year I'm going to ask the owner if I can pick from the 3rd story windows since the best fruit was high out of reach.
So we had our apples and on a lovely fall Sunday my sister Meghan and I trekked over to Colette's with a bagful for an afternoon of canning. It was an ambitious day- we were also making red onion jam again because we can't seem to make enough of that stuff( see CanJam #3 )
We decided on an apple jelly but didn't have a particular recipe in mind. So we cut up the apples ( about 4 lbs), leaving the skins and cores and added them to a pot of water ( about 5-6 cups) and left them to simmer on the back burner while we made our onion jam. When the apples were soft we strained the liquid through cheesecloth and put it aside while we came up with a plan. I had made a gorgeous apple jelly with Thai basil from these apples a few weeks earlier and was delighted with the rosy pink jelly they produced. This batch was more tawny than pink and made us think of hot buttered rum. Like mulled wine and apple cider, hot buttered rum also makes use of spices like cinnamon, nutmeg. cloves and allspice and what better way to capture those flavours than in a jelly? Colette just happened to have some Appleton's Amber Rum on hand so using my basic apple jelly recipe and comparing notes on alcohol infused jelly ( we depended heavily on Shay of Hitchhikingtoheaven.com/) we came up with this lovely creation!
Spiced Apple Rum Jelly
4 1/2 cups of strained juice from cooked apples (see above)
4 cups sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp whole cloves
1 tbsp whole allspice berries
2 cinnamon sticks
2-3 slices of fresh ginger
1 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
1/2 cup amber rum
In a non reactive pot add juice, sugar, lemon and spices. Grated nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon sticks can go straight in, place cloves and allspice in a spice bag or teaball. Heat to boiling and stir frequently. Cook it until it gets near gelling point and add rum. Reheat until it starts to sheet from the spoon- check for set using cold plate in the freezer. When it's reached gel point, remove whole spices and quickly pour in jars.
We added one clove and one allspice berry to each jar for appearance. Add seals and tighten rings to fingertight. Place in boiling canner pot for ten minutes. Remove and allow to cool.
This jelly turned wonderfully, gorgeous to look at and seriously delicious. Just ask my sister -if she ever gets her head out of the pot.