Oh, fall. You come every year and you sweep in subtlely; first the air loses it’s humidity. Then the sun changes. Finally the wind itself is different- it smells different too. The leaves begin to change color, then drop. It’s time for the down comforter and open windows at night. The need for a light sweater at night turns into the need for something a little heavier. The leaves crunch underfoot and it’s time for boots and socks. The sandals get relegated to the back of the closet for another year.
Everyone instinctively wants to snuggle again- even the dog- after a long summer of “GET AWAY FROM ME IT’S SO HOT.”
And… and… there are apples.
Apple season is here. Omigah, omigah, omigaaaaaaaaaaahhhhwwwwd.
I love apples. Apples are my favorite. Honeycrisps and Red Delicious, oh, I could eat them all day. Even Golden Delicious and Granny Smith have their place here with me. Pink Lady’s? Oh sure. Love those too. I’m just an apple lover, period. However, sometimes you get some apples and maybe it’s the batch or the harvest or maybe it’s just that particular apple… and they’re just not the kind thats best for eating out of your hand.
And that’s what happened with this little group of Gala’s I bought. I was all psyched for apple season, and went a little crazy getting a couple of different kinds, and the Gala’s were just… eh. Not fantastic. Gala apples are mild anyway, a bit grainy, and softish. Not the best eating apple (not to me anyway- I prefer a crisper, slightly more tart apple). So I decided to just use the rest of them in a jam and be done with it.
That way I can move on to eating those Honeycrisps.
SMALL-BATCH ROSY PINK & SPICY APPLE JAM (adapted from a recipe by The View from Great Island)
Makes roughly 2 1/2 pints- depending on size/variety of apples; can be halved
- 6 apples, cored and cut into 1″ chunks or smaller (I used Gala and didn’t peel them, hence the “rosy” color and lack of added pectin*)
- 2 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 4 cardamom pods
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract OR 1 vanilla bean, scraped
- Sanitize and prepare your jars. Set aside, keeping them hot. Smash the cardamom pods with the side of a large knife, releasing the seeds. Set aside.
- Core the apples, slice them into 1″ chunks, and add them to a large pot. Add the sugar, cardamom seeds, and the lemon juice. Stir well, and then bring to a boil.
- Boil, uncovered and stirring often, for about 30-40 minutes until thickened. Depending on the variety of apples you use, you might end up with a chunkier jam so you might want to zap it with an immersion blender. If you like it on the chunky side, that’s cool too. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla bean or extract thoroughly.
- Ladle the finished jam into the clean & sterilized jars, add lids and bands, and process for 10 minutes in a waterbath. Otherwise, store in the refrigerator for immediate use.
*Should you decide to peel them, be aware there will be a decided lack of pectin and you’ll need to add around 2 teaspoons of commercial pectin otherwise you’ll get applesauce. Not that there’s anything wrong with applesauce…
As mentioned above, Gala apples are perfect for jam (or sauce) because they cook down easily. They’re also very thin-skinned, so including the skin isn’t a big deal; it all just breaks down and a few zaps with my immersion blender take care of any big pieces. The skin adds the necessary pectin that the jam needs to keep it jammy and not sauce-y. If you’re using an apple with a thicker skin and prefer to peel it first, then just add some extra commercial pectin (2 teaspoons). If you omit the pectin you’ll get applesauce. Which isn’t horrible, but I expect you’re making it because you want jam. Not sauce.
The flavor in this is great- the scent of vanilla hits you right away, and the cardamom comes after. It’s warming so it’ll be great on a cold day. And it’s definitely not like eating a mouthful of apple pie filling. Not that that would be a bad thing, but sometimes you want apple pie filling and sometimes you want apple jam. This is a bit less ZOMG IT’S FALL than most preserved or canned apple-y things. People always automatically add cinnamon to apples, and while it’s a great combo, it can be a bit overdone.
(However, if you’re looking for that kind of thing, try this caramel apple jam. It has rum in it. Go.)
This jam is great with cheese on crackers or with pork, especially. It’s also just fantastic spread on warm toast or an English muffin. Or you can eat it right out of the jar with a spoon… in bed… under the covers with your favorite two- or four-legged person.
For more apple-y goodness to celebrate apple season with, try some of these:
- Caramel apple jam
- Hand-held mini apple pies
- Apple-pumpkin-sauce (or pumpkin applesauce)
- Canned apple rings
- Hard apple cider jelly
- Irish apple cake
- Maple apple walnut crisp
- Apple hazelnut cake
- Apple pie bourbon