The prime season for apples has passed but you can make this all year round. This works best when the apples are just ripe or a little bit green. After the apples are picked, sugar content rises but pectin levels decrease and this stock is all about the pectin. I'm not against using packaged pectin for canning but do like this method as well. There are a lot of jellies that have no natural gelling agent, hot and sweet pepper, wine, onion or any combination of herbs. This apple stock adds a nice under taste and provides your gelling agent.
So there Donna, I wasn't crazy when I asked what your base for your mint jelly was. LOL (She looked at me like I was simple minded and said " Mint.")
Master recipe for Apple stock
4 lbs apples
8 cups water
Stem the apples, they will make the stock overly bitter if you don’t. Chop coarsely, no need to peel or core, then combine apples and water in heavy bottomed stock pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer ½ hour, stirring occasionally. The object is to get pectin heavy stock not cook the apples to mush.
Remove from heat and strain juice through a fine mesh colander lined with damp cheesecloth. I leave mine to strain over night, it has a chance to cool and settle, but you can let it sit for just a couple of hours, then use it.
Re-strain the juice into your stock pot. Any sediment in the juice will make the final product cloudy.
You should have about 8 cups of stock, bring it to a boil and reduce to about 3 cups. Strain it one more time and now you have a pectin rich stock you can use for any number of jellies.
Apples , apples, apples. I usually combine my apple preserve making. Here's why. When you make apple butter, you are left with the peels and cores that actually make good stock. I add them to this recipe, usually about half and half, whole apples and peels and cores. I would much rather use most of my whole apples for apple butter than stock. After you have made the stock you can put the leftovers through a food mill and you end up with a bunch of unsweetened apple sauce you can use for any number of recipes.
You end up with very little going to waste, I like that. I can, by times, be a very frugal cook.
This stock recipe lasts about 10 days in the refrigerator, freezes well and you can can the stock as well. I usually make a bunch, then have it already on hand when I am making some of the other jellies.
Crab apple jelly is one of the main reasons I started canning. I love the stuff. It is impossible to buy in the city. Grandma Fisher always made it, and it is kind of a country staple as far as jellies go.
Master recipe for Crab apple stock
5 lbs crab apples
Water to cover
Stem crab apples and cut in half. Put cut apples in a heavy bottomed stock pot and add enough water to cover the apples. Bring to a boil, then simmer for ½ hour, stirring occasionally. Strain through a colander lined with damp cheesecloth.
I let mine sit overnight, to cool and settle but a couple of hours is all you need.
Re- strain juice and you have your crab apple stock, no reducing necessary.
This is actually ready to make crab apple jelly, but I also use it as a base just like I would with the previous recipe and I prefer it if I have the choice. It gives a better yield and you don't have to reduce it. It keeps just like the apple stock so when crab apples are in season, I get as many as I can. I got almost sixty pounds of crab apples off of that tree in the picture above. If anyone knows exactly what type of crab apple tree that is, let me know. The apples were perfect for preserves and pickled apples and I would like to have one of my own.
I have used commercial apple juice to make stock in a pinch but don't really recommend it. I wanted to see if it works and it does after a fashion. I combined it with the apple stock recipe above because I was making a double batch and had run out of apples. I added the apple juice to the apple stock recipe before the reduction stage and reduced them together. I got a much darker, sweeter and lower pectin level stock. The jelly I made set and was a hit but I don't think I would do it like that again. I added this just as an " if you are in a bind" option. I don't think straight apple juice would work, the pectin level just isn't high enough.
Now your ready to make all kind of different flavoured jellies. This method is the only one I know of that allows you to make organic herb or pepper jellies if you are into that. I'm not, but, there you have it.