When the theme for this month’s Can Jam was announced, I was excited. Apples are just about the perfect choice for me now. They are in season and in abundance here and I have a lot of experience with them. I’ve been thinking about this for a while. I wanted to try something new and exciting. Rosemary Apple Butter? Apple Chutney of some exotic variety?
I’ve never made an apple butter. The term “apple butter” has always kind of turned me off to it. I don’t know why; it’s just one of those things.
Chutney seems exciting, but it intimidates me. Not because I don’t think I can make it, but because I don’t know what the heck I’d do with all those jars of chutney once I canned them. Put them on the shelf to look pretty? Eat them out of the jar with a spoon?
So, as much as I really wanted to try something daring and new, I decided to stick with something familiar. Last year I canned cinnamon apple slices for the first time. They were delicious, but the experimental jar I made with chai spices was fabulous. I actually ate the whole jar with a spoon. Okay, I actually used a fork but the point is that once I started eating them I couldn’t stop. So I present to you:
Chai Spiced Apple Rings
Made just over 7 pints.
(Based on a recipe I found at Myownlabels.com)
- Vinegar-salt solution:
- 2 Tbsp white vinegar
- 2 Tbsp salt
- 1 gallon cold water
- 10 lbs. Apples (I used 3 lbs. of Ida Reds from my 9 Bean Rows CSA share, 6 lbs. of Ida Reds from Maple Ridge Orchards and a pound of Jonathan apples from Maple Ridge .)
- 4 cups sugar
- 1 quart water
- 2 T. cinnamon
- 7 candied ginger medallions
- 1 one inch piece of vanilla bean
- 42 cardamom seeds
- 42 pepper corns
- 14 cloves
- 7 star anise
- 7 cinnamon sticks
Mix salt and vinegar in 1 gallon of cold water; stir until salt is dissolved.
Wash, peel, core and slice apples and submerge the slices in the vinegar brine to prevent discoloration. I like to use my handy-dandy apple slicing machine which peels, cores and slices all at once. (And no, that’s not an Ida Red on the slicer, it’s a Yellow Delicious we dehydrated.)
Mix sugar, water, candied ginger, vanilla bean and cinnamon in a large sauce pot.
Bring syrup to boil and boil gently for five minutes.
Remove syrup from heat and add apples.
Allow the apples to rest in the syrup for ten minutes.
Return pan to heat, bring to boil and simmer for 30 minutes.
Remove from heat and cool thoroughly.
While the apples and syrup are cooling, prepare your jars, lids and boiling water bath (BWB): Wash jars and caps. Place rack in canning pot and add jars. When the apples are nearly cool, bring the BWB to a boil. Turn down heat but keep jars in simmering water until ready to fill.
Once the apples and syrup have thoroughly cooled, remove apple slices and vanilla bean. Cut vanilla open and scrape the seeds out. Add the vanilla seeds to the syrup and return to a boil.
When the syrup is ready add one of the candied ginger medallions, a star anise, 6 peppercorns, a cinnamon stick, 2 cloves and 6 cardamom seeds to each prepared jar.
Pack the apple slices loosely in hot jars.
Fill the jars with boiling syrup leaving 1/2″ head space.
Wipe rims of jars, add lids and rings and process pint jars in BWB for 15 minutes.
Try not to open the jars for a few weeks to allow the spices to have time to really mingle in the jar.
If my goal was spiced apple rings, this recipe was an EPIC FAIL.
This could be for two reasons (that I can think of; there are probably numerous other reasons that I haven’t even considered).
The first reason is that I soaked the apples too long which caused them to soak up a lot of water and turn to mush when I cooked them. I’m not sure that this is the reason because some of the apples kept their shape despite being soaked.
The second (and most logical) reason some of the apples turned to mush is that they have been stored outside for three weeks. Yes, it is cool outside now, but we’ve had many sunny, warm days. Apples like to stay cool all the time, not just most of the time. Some of the apples kept their shape beautifully. While I can’t identify individual apples from the slices in the jars, I’m assuming that the CSA apples that I got Saturday morning are the apples that held their shape.
HOWEVER, if my goal was a syrupy-sweet apple sauce, or an amazing topping, this recipe was a complete success. The vanilla added a heavenly aroma and subtle flavor even when mingled with the other powerful spice flavors. I think this will be a great addition to our Christmas brunch on pancakes and waffles or served with homemade vanilla ice cream.