The tarter the apples, the more pectin they will usually have. If you are using home picked apples, earliest in the season is best, and the smaller apples will have proportionally more pectin as well.
- 4 lbs of tart apples (e.g. Granny Smith), un-peeled, chopped into big pieces, including the cores (including the cores is important as this is where most of the natural pectin is)
- 3 cups of fresh spearmint leaves, chopped, packed
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups white vinegar
- 3 1/2 cups sugar (7/8 cups for each cup of juice)
- Digital thermometer
- Large, fine mesh sieve
- 4 half-pint canning jars
1 Cook apple and mint in water: Combine apple pieces with water and mint in a large pan. Bring water to a boil then reduce heat and cook 20 minutes, until apples are soft.
2 Add vinegar and simmer: Add vinegar, return to boil. Simmer covered, 5 more minutes.
3 Mash apple pieces: Use a potato masher to mash up the apple pieces to the consistency of thin apple sauce. If the mash is too thick (it should be quite runny), add another 1/2 to 1 cup of water to the pot.
4 Strain apple mash in sieve or with cloth: Spoon the apple pulp into a muslin cloth (or a couple layers of cheesecloth) or a large, fine mesh sieve, suspended over a large bowl. Leave to strain for several hours. Do not squeeze.
After a few hours about 4 cups of juice should have strained out of the mash.
5 Measure juice, add sugar, heat until sugar is dissolved: Measure the juice, then pour into a large pot. Add the sugar (7/8 a cup for each cup of juice). Heat on high, stirring to make sure the sugar gets dissolved and doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan or burn.
6 Simmer until set point: Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to medium or medium high, so that you maintain a strong simmer. Cook for 10-15 minutes, using a metal spoon to skim off the surface scum.
Continue to boil until a digital thermometer shows that the temperature has reached 8-10°F above the boiling point at your altitude (boiling point is 212°F at sea level, so at sea level the temperature should read 220-222°F).
Additional time needed for cooking can be anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour or longer, depending on the amount of water, sugar, and apple pectin in the mix.
A thermometer reading isn't always the best way to tell whether or not a jelly is done. Another way to test is put a half teaspoonful of the jelly on a chilled (in the freezer) plate. Allow the jelly to cool a few seconds, then push it with your fingertip. If it wrinkles up, it's ready. I usually start testing the jelly this way when the mixture gets to 218°F.
7 Pour into canning jars and seal: Pour into sterilized* canning jars to within 1/4" from the top and seal.
Makes approximately 4 8-ounce jars.
*There are several ways to sterilize jars for canning. You can run the jars through a short cycle in a dishwasher. You can place the jars in a large pot (12 quart) of water on top of a steaming rack (so they don't touch the bottom of the pan), and bring the water to a boil for 10 minutes. Or you can rinse the jars, dry them, and place them, without lids, in a 200°F oven for 10 minutes.