Candy apple red.

Okay I’ll admit it: I hate people who hate Christmas. I hate people who hate any holiday, really, because it’s stupid. I hate people who don’t like Christmas music, too, but that’s a bit different ’cause there is a lot of holiday music I can’t stand (anything modern for the most part, or anything post-1960’s, [save for very a select few songs] or anything Karen Carpenter, James Taylor, Celine Dion, Amy Grant, anything with the lyrics “Mama went home to Jesus today”, etc, etc), so I have to give them that. But that being said, if you’re anti-holiday, go jump off a cliff & do the rest of us who enjoy life a favor. Besides, if I didn’t enjoy the holidays or put effort into them, my grandfather & grandmother would come back from the great beyond & slap the shit out of me. They wouldn’t accept that kind of shit, ever. I inherited a love for it through them, its in me whether I like it or not. But seriously, you’re breathing & you have a computer to be able to read this, not to mention the ability to read to begin with and just those things alone mean you have a lot to be thankful for compared to most of the world… so get off your ass & appreciate it & celebrate it. Even when times were hard, like during the Depression or WWII, my family always celebrated & decorated for the holidays. If you’re alive, you have a lot to be happy about as far as I’m concerned. So stop being all friggin’ bah humbug about it, and remember there are people far worse off than you that can find joy in the season. There. That was my last public service announcement for 2011. Moving on…

That little mickey on the right is my mom! Super cute, right? Anyway normally, this time of year, I do a kind of list of awesome baking/cooking/whatever-related presents, sorta like a (very brief) gift guide. But this year I just didn’t feel like it. Mainly because I had no ideas, but also because I just wasn’t digging it. So I’m sorry… but on the plus side, you get an extra recipe post out of it. And it just so happens to be jelly.

This jelly might frighten some of you. Or at least the mention of Red Hot candies that go in it might frighten you. But I assure you that it’s nowhere near as frightening as you think. The heat from the candy literally disappears & leaves a bright red, beautiful jelly that’s got an amazing cinnamon-apple flavor that kinda reminds me of not only candy apples but Apple Jacks cereal. And of course, it’s perfect for Christmas.

I love Red Hots. But then again, I’m a big fan of anything spicy or “hot.” While I was making this jelly, I ate the entire rest of the bag of Red Hots, standing at the stove stirring the pot. Seriously.

But like I said above- what happens in that pot is magical. The “hot” of the Red Hots just goes away. You’re left with a fantastic cinnamon-apple jelly that’s sweet & not spicy. And of course, perfect for gift-giving. The color is just so beautiful. Really ‘candy apple red‘ and definitely has that candy apple taste.

Candy apple is made by coating an apple with a sugar layer.

The most common sugar coating is made from sugar, corn syrup, water, cinnamon and red food coloring. The sugar syrup is created by boiling the ingredients in a saucepan. The liquid should reach about 300 °F (150 °C) on a candy thermometer. Dip the apple with the sugar in the “hard crack” stage. The sugar will harden within an hour.

Humid weather prevents the sugar from hardening.[3]

Jelly apples, found in New York’s Coney Island area, are related but have a soft candy (“jelly“) coating and a cherry flavor, not cinnamon. Some have sprinkles on them or coconut.

It’s stupid easy to make this, too. If you’ve got any canning experience at all, you can do it blindfolded. Maybe not literally, we don’t want any hot sugar accidents. Of course, as usual, I write this assuming you have full knowledge of home-canning procedures & safety measures, etc. If you don’t, or if you’re new to it, then please take a minute to read through the USDA’s National Center for Home Food Preservation’s website on it before starting. This happens to be incredibly easy to make, and there’s no concern about the acid/sugar levels in it, but if you’re a newbie it’s always good to do your research first.

CANDY APPLE JELLY (Betsy Porter’s recipe from AllRecipes.com)

Makes about 6 half-pint jars

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups apple juice
  • ½ cup red-hot candies
  • 1 (1.75 ounce) package powdered fruit pectin
  • 4 ½ cups sugar

Directions:

  1. In a large kettle, combine apple juice, candies and pectin.
  2. Bring to a full rolling boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in sugar; return to a full rolling boil. Boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  3. Remove from the heat; skim off any foam and undissolved candies. Pour hot liquid into hot jars, leaving ¼-in. headspace. Adjust caps. Process for 5 minutes in a boiling-water bath.

Gorgeous & simple. All of my candies dissolved so I didn’t need to skim any off. I will say though that my jelly took a day or two to set because I used liquid pectin (at least I think that’s why), but ultimately it did set beautifully. I suggest using the powdered as the recipe asks for, just to simplify your life. I like to make things difficult for myself. Life is hard when you’re a rebel.

Once they were set, sealed & cooled, I made the cutest little ‘jar cozies’ out of red polka dot wool. Kinda like the jelly jar’s version of a Christmas sweater, haha. Then I tied ribbons & Christmas charms on it, printed up pretty labels for the top and safety-pinned a label to it describing what’s inside. I think they look perfectly suited to this time of year. I can’t wait to give them as gifts. But for now, maybe I’ll have some on toast… and I heard using it as the jelly in a PB&J is delightful, if you’re into that kinda thing. I am not. Speaking of pimping my preserves, Pimp That Preserve 2011 is officially on! So if you’re so inclined, get your booty over to the Well Preserved FB page, go to the album for Pimp That Preserve 2011 & vote for my jars! I entered two- my amaretto cranberry sauce & a champagne jelly (that won’t be posted for some time yet, sorry!), so go take a peek. It’s super easy, just click ‘like’ to vote for a particular jars’ decorations *ahem*mine*ahem* No seriously, you can vote for whoever you like, there are some awesome entries!

I decided this year would be a practically 100% homemade gift year for me. Meaning very few people will get anything bought, if any. I myself, while having tons of ‘wants’ & things I lust for, most of which is totally unnecessary or extravagant… I don’t need anything. And I know that I’ll get some things that I don’t need anyway, & I’ll love them. It’s just part of my attempt to try & be simpler & more noble, I guess. Eh. Whatever. I wouldn’t be turning down any Le Creuset or Tiffany’s, you can bet on that.

Are you hoping for anything special from the big guy in the red suit on Christmas Day?

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