Sunday, October 26, 2008

Lady Apple Magic

To me, there is something magical about being able to share ideas, chuckles, emotions and recipes halfway around the world with friends you've never met. Having been born well before the Computer Age, it still seems mildly miraculous, as long-distance phone calling or color television must have seemed to my great grandmother.

Morgan in Australia, for heaven's sake, read my post about making applesauce and suggested that my own diminutive apples might be crab apples, something she and her mother have used to make jelly when she was a girl. So, I clambered down the steep hill behind my house on the other side of the globe in California and picked all the little apples, hoping to make jelly from their recipe despite never having attempted jelly before.

The jelly making itself is somewhat magical, too. You just wash the little apples, barely cover them with water, bring them to a boil and simmer them until the apples are soft. Pour through a colander to catch the now-tired apples and into a large measuring bowl so you know how much juice you have, then through a double layer of muslin (I used culinary cheesecloth) to clarify the juice. Add a cup of sugar for each cup of apple water and stir to dissolve completely.

Raise again to the boil and keep boiling until the resulting syrup reduces dramatically and reaches the setting point, in my case about 30-45 minutes, checking every 10 minutes or so. Skim off any unattractive foam, pour carefully down the sides of warm, sterilized jars to keep bubbles from forming and seal immediately. You'll know when the setting point is reached in three ways: first, the whole kitchen will suddenly smell apple-y; second, the syrup, when spooned onto a cold saucer, will gel after a few seconds of cooling; and third, what was clear liquid at the start will magically take on a pink-to-red color depending on the color of the apples you used. Mine were about half and half green and red, so I got this lovely goldy-pink color - Morgan tells me that she and her Mum's was rich ruby red, like the magical Ruby Slippers in a story about a land called Oz.

So, call me fanciful if you will but I think this whole process of reaching around the world for cherished family recipes is a mystical, magical delight.

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8 Comments:

Blogger cookiecrumb said...

You rock!
OMG.
Hello, Morgan. ;)

Sunday, October 26, 2008  
Anonymous dancingmorganmouse said...

Magic colour, like catching a sunset in a jar.

Hello Cookie!

Sunday, October 26, 2008  
Anonymous Evlmprs said...

I can see you're still enjoying retirement :) Those are beautiful.

Sunday, October 26, 2008  
Blogger Dagny said...

Looks so good. And thank you for the subtle reminder that I need to head out to Pt. Reyes Station.

Oh, and that Morgan seems to be quite infectious. But more about that later. ;-)

Sunday, October 26, 2008  
Blogger peter said...

My Grandmother used to do this with the crabapples in VT; they made the best jelly. I haven't gotten it together to do it since.

Monday, October 27, 2008  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Cookiecrumb, well, really, it's Morgan who rocks on this one!

Morgan, yes, I love the color!

Evlmprs, so far, I can heartily recommend retirement!

Dagny, Pt. Reyes Station?

Peter, it's easier than applesauce - no peeling!

Monday, October 27, 2008  
Blogger Dagny said...

I go to Cowgirl Creamery to buy jams and jellies from there. I have blanked on the name of the brand but they are made by a local woman. She makes a really good Pink Lady Apple jam.

Monday, October 27, 2008  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Dagny, Pink Ladys are my favorite apple - so crisp and sweet/tart! Maybe I'll get out there one day soon, too!

Monday, October 27, 2008  

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