If you read last weeks post you know that our beloved apple tree lost about a third of itself and it took a huge hunk of our apple crop with it when the big branch came down.
I think the old saying goes, "When life hands you lemons, make lemonade." Well, I have updated it ever so slightly for our particular situation and decided that life handed us apples so I made apple jelly.
First, I had to pick the apples, usually a bit of an arduious task. Not this time! The branches were on the ground so it was pretty easy to just reach DOWN and pick the apples. Step one was a breeze. I thought that it would be fun to add a little additional flavor to the jelly and I happen to be growing chocolate mint in my herb garden.
Chocolate mint? Yes sir! We used it to make ice cream and it really has a strong chocolate flavor which is just kind of funny to me, but hey it works and it is delicious!
So I got 8+ pints out of my first batch and decided that I had to have a custom lable for this super special jelly. I decided to call it Broken Branch Choco-Mint Jelly. Here is the logo I came up with.
I really like the label, it makes me chuckle a little and if I was better at making jelly I might make it into a cottage business. Anyhoo, The tree appears to be doing ok for now, the jelly the apples made is really good and I suspect that next years BBQ/smoking season will be steller. Thanks to our tree for all of the nice gifts it gives. I am not going to give a true recipe for this jelly because as I said earlier it just never works out the first time but what I will give you is the recipe for the juice and the ratio of mint to apples if you want to try it out yourself.
Choco-Mint Apple Jelly Juice Recipe
Start with 8 pounds of apples cut into big chunks (leave the seeds and core in the apple for pectin). In a large pot add the apples and 10 cups of water and bring it to a boil. Let boil for 20-30 minutes till the apples are smushy and then lay 3-4 layers of cheese cloth or other material into a colander to strain and clarify the juice. Pour cooked apples into colander and let sit for a minimum of 3 hours. DO NOT PRESS APPLES! Pressing will make the juice cloudy.
You should have aproximately 8 cups of juice when you are done. This goes back into the pot and this is where you add the mint. I added a giant handful of 8-10 inch long mint stems with leaves attached. I would guess that I had maybe....12-15 stems. All I did to the mint was roughly chop the whole shebang and toss it in. Bring the juice to a boil again and then simmer for about 5 minutes and turn off the heat. Let the mint steep in the juice for about 15 minutes to infuse the flavor, then run the juice through the cloth in the colander again.
If you are a jelly genius (not like myself) you will know what to do with this minty nectar to get a spreadable outcome. If you are like me....well I am sorry to say that you will have to continue on this adventure on your own. There are tons of places to get info on what to do next on the internet (thank goodness) so go forth and be fruitful.
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