A couple of weeks ago a small group of us met in Bettingen and walked to the barn there to collect apples for our foray into jelly making. We selected a couple of varieties, Boskoop and Topaz. A bit of quick research into these indicates that both are strong flavored and tart, and according to the apple journal the Boskoop bites back and may be too strongly flavored for Americans who are used to a bland diet. Not too strong for this American. And the Topaz apples are a beautiful rich color, both perfect for jelly. So, we walked back up the hill to my apartment and put up some jelly.
First you chop the apples roughly and put all the pieces (including skins and cores) into a large pot with lots of water, and cook to make the juice that will turn into jelly. The whole mess (and a beautiful one at that) sits and drains for three hours or overnight, and then the juice is cooked down to make the jelly. I had cooked some apples the day before so we were cooking down the juice to make jelly in one pot, and getting ready to cook apples for batch number 2 in another pot. So far so good.
But ahh, then we took the wrong turn. Somehow in the mix of a several cooks, great conversation, lots of laughter, the 10 cups of water that was supposed to be for cooking the apples got poured into the apple juice. We didn't even notice. We started boiling the apple juice (or water with apple flavoring at this point) and boiling and boiling, and it really didn't start to thicken like we imagined it would. More great conversation, food talk, and good times, when luckily one (the clever one) of our guests figured out what we had done. By this time we had boiled the water/juice mixture down to a syrup of sorts, and gave up. Our group was not a critical one; we were all about cooking together and having fun, and that goal was still accomplished, if not the one of actually making jelly!
We sent everyone home with a jar of syrup and asked them to get creative and write to let us know what they came up with. I heard murmurings of apple martinis and more as people were leaving. We are eager to hear the results.
Meanwhile the group left me with lots more juice for trying again. After everyone was gone I boiled my syrup down some more, and then had to run out the door for a date with my husband (priorities after all). I left the stuff in the pot with the lid on and went out for about 3 hours. I came home to find...a pot of jelly! Only, 6, 7 hours after we had started!
Ok, but I can't leave you there, lest you think making jelly is hard. It isn't!!! The next day I took batch two of beautiful juice and cooked it down according to directions. As it cooked the juice which had been a rich cloudy pink color began to clear and thicken, transforming into a vivid jewel like color, and the results were, well especially after all that, very satisfying.
Thanks much to David Lebovitz for inspiring us into this adventure with his wonderful post about making apple jelly. You can find the recipe we used there.
And thanks to all the game participants who were so willing to "go with the flow" even when it got a bit watered down! We appreciate you and your attitude tremendously. Our goal at Expat Kochen is to "inspire you to cook, wherever home may be." Maybe for this post we should say, "inspiring you to cook and keep cooking, whatever mistakes may be made!" Oh, and don't forget to let us know what you did with your apple syrup!