Friday, December 12, 2014

Candy apples for the teachers


I'm developing a real enthusiasm for canning these past couple of years. It was tricky at first, and I'm still by no means an expert, but I understand it better now and I really enjoy it! I still marvel at the fact that you can turn fruit into something totally different with some cooking and a few added ingredients. It feels a little magical to me, even though I realize it's a simple process. I love doing it and I'm happy to share my creations. This year, I made a festive jelly for our teachers' holiday gifts.


This is a really simple recipe that I came across as I looked for something fun and different to try; there are many versions out there but I decided to try Taste of Home's version, which was well-reviewed and seemed especially easy. You need only four ingredients to make this jelly and it cooks and sets quickly. I scaled the recipe, using less juice and low-sugar pectin. I ended up with three half-pints - two for the teachers and one for us!

Candy Apple Jelly (from Taste of Home)

4 cups apple juice
1/2 cup Red Hots candies
1 package (1 3/4 oz.) powdered fruit pectin
4 1/2 cups sugar

In a large saucepan, combine the apple juice, candies and pectin. Bring to a full rolling boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in sugar; return to a full rolling boil. Boil and stir 1 minute. 

Remove from heat; skim off foam. Ladle hot mixture into six hot sterilized half-pint jars, leaving 1/4-in. head-space. Wipe rims. Center lids on jars; screw on bands until fingertip tight.

Place jars into canner with simmering water, ensuring that they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil; process for 5 minutes. Remove jars and cool. Yield: about 6 half-pints.


This jelly was simple and fun. I loved watching it cook. The candies melted immediately into the apple juice, turning it bright ruby-red. While I was making the jelly, I was reminded of the Bear's nostalgic tales about a favorite dessert in his elementary school's cafeteria: apple slices cooked with Red Hots and served cooled and thickened, like bright red apple-pie filling. Fancy! I only remember applesauce and canned peaches in my own school years. I asked him about those apples later, by the way, and he got a glazed look in his eyes.


Look at that red jelly. It's almost shimmery. You should smell it in the cooking stage; the whole house is scented with apple and cinnamon. Do you remember Atomic Fireballs jawbreakers? It smells just like them. I quite like the ladling phase, working fast to get all the jars full without spilling. I used a regular Kerr half-pint jar for our portion. For the teachers, I used different half-pint jars, short and squat with wide mouths. Mine are made by Ball; I'd never seen a jar in that shape until this summer. I bought mine in Walmart but I have since noticed that Hobby Lobby carries them too. I thought they were cute and different, nice for gifts. I processed the jars, adding five minutes to the recipe recommendations since we're above 5,000 feet in altitude.


Goodness, it's just so pretty. I can't help it, I always have to look at my preserves this way, with the light glowing through them. I don't think jelly could ever be more festive than this. 



I made some tags from card stock; I stamped a reindeer in brown ink on one side and wrote the contents of the jelly on the other side. I cut out some holly-strewn fabric to use as covers for the jar lids. My tea tin is the perfect size for this, so I traced around it with a pencil on the wrong side of the fabric and cut the fabric with pinking shears.


Festive! Each teacher will also receive a small papier mache dragon ornament. Our school's mascot is a dragon. I found the ornaments at World Market last week and thought they would be perfect for our teachers. I wrapped the ornaments in tissue paper and put them, with the jars, in gift bags. I'll take them to school next week before we break up for the holidays. 


Of course I had to try some from the jar we're keeping for ourselves. I put it on a toasted, buttered English muffin. I liked it a lot. It's not really spicy; you taste the Red Hots, but it's just a hint of cinnamon flavor. I'm glad I used the low-sugar pectin; it really doesn't need to be much sweeter than it is. It's made with candy, after all. It jelled nicely and was easy to spread. I would certainly make it again, Christmas or not. I hope the teachers like it. It's hard to know people's flavor preferences, but this is fun and the jars are small, so I think it would go over well with anyone. I would love to try making it with mulled cider sometime; can you imagine? Yum. Oh, and the Bear's cafeteria memories came flooding back when he tried some, just as I'd hoped. It warms my heart to know that I can remind him of the good times when it comes to school lunch.

24 comments:

  1. The colour is amazing! It reminds me of Turkish delight somehow. Lucky teachers!
    I do like your little tea tin too.
    Have a lovely weekend.
    Sarah x

    ReplyDelete
  2. That might be the most gorgeous jelly I have ever seen! I had never heard of using Red Hot candies for making jelly. This would be a great Valentine's gift as well. Isn't it a satisfying feeling to look at your jars after you take them out of the canner? :-)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Those are beautiful, and I love the presentation! I've never heard of anyone making jelly with candy, but then again, I've never made my own.

    ReplyDelete
  4. What a great idea Jennifer!! We don't have these candies here so I won't be making this, but I can imagine that it tastes lovely and I am sure that the teachers will enjoy and appreciate it! xx

    ReplyDelete
  5. I love making jelly, too. I don't know what Red Hot candies are but they do sure sound spicy. I bet the teachers will be delighted what with all the shop bought chocs they probably get from most children (at least at our school this would be the case). Something made with love and care is so amazing. x

    ReplyDelete
  6. What a wonderful gift! My daughter is canning jelly tomorrow. They are getting started on gifts for their wedding guests and are using the same jars you have. I will have to pass on this recipe to her.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Oh my goodness! That turned out fabooo! I am sure the teachers will be thrilled with the jelly and the dragon. You rock. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

    ReplyDelete
  8. What a amazing gift, the colour is perfect for Christmas. The finishing touches the fabric and the dragon are a real delight, the perfect adornment.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Goodness, atomic fireballs sound exciting! The colour of the jelly is absolutely sensational, and those jars are perfect, quite unusual and fancy. You are good making your own teacher gifts. I'm not sure if I'll manage it this year. I'm intrigued by canning, it's not something I've ever tried, I tend to just put the jelly into sterilised jars and hope for the best, but I can see that canning is a great idea to make sure it lasts. I had no idea you were at quite such a high altitude, although I do remember that you refer to your home as being in the high desert. That's a long way up! Wishing you and yours a lovely weekend. CJ xx

    ReplyDelete
  10. I wish I knew what could replace those Red Hots, so I could try making something similar.. I don't know any candy around here that has a cinnamon taste...
    I wish I was one of the teachers who gets to receive one of those cute jars ! So adorable with the dragon on top :-) !
    (PS love your tea tin !!)

    ReplyDelete
  11. It looks lovely Jennifer I'm sure the teachers will love it. :) x

    ReplyDelete
  12. Shit. My long comment got deleted accidentally! Oh well... love the jelly you made! It's such a great gift for the teachers! Pammy Sue

    ReplyDelete
  13. Thanks for sharing the great recipe and gift presentation ideas, Jennifer! I too am surprised that you live at such a high altitude. [I live at 500ft. :) ] When I lived at over 7000ft. in Colorado I tried to follow the high altitude directions for an angel food cake. It was so pretty coming out of the oven. I flipped over the pan to let the cake cool and turned my back on it to do other things. Then I heard a "plop" and whirled around to find the cake deflated into a sweet puddle underneath the pan :( I am so glad your cooking efforts are much more successful ! xx

    ReplyDelete
  14. Yummy! Your jelly sounds delicious and I love the jewel-like colour. I adore cinnamon, so love the look of the candy - I don't think we have them here in the UK. How amazing that you have to consider the altitude whilst following recipes! The dragons are very sweet too - lucky, lucky teachers. x

    ReplyDelete
  15. It looks fabulous, so festive. I'm sure it will be a hit with the teachers.

    ReplyDelete
  16. The recipients will be so lucky! I love the redness of the jelly, so warming and inviting - especially with the perfect muffin to spread it on. Well done you xx

    ReplyDelete
  17. They look very festive and I really like how you've packaged and presented them. I'm sure they'll be well received. x

    ReplyDelete
  18. I think the teachers are going to love it, great gift idea.
    Hugs,
    Meredith

    ReplyDelete
  19. How cool is this one Jennifer! It looks so festive in those jars and it sounds delicious!!!! I have never even heard of candy apple jelly!!! I will have to try this recipe!! Nothing better than gifts from the heart and this one is just that! Hope you are having a wonderful weekend! Nicole xoxo

    ReplyDelete
  20. Christmassy color for this jelly !! great idea !! and the ornaments so well done !! Lucky teachers !! So have a lovely sunday !

    http://woolandcats.blogspot.fr/

    ReplyDelete
  21. That looks delicious! I didn't know it was such a few ingredients, I have never canned anything in my life, I always worry that it won't last, that it will go bad because I didn't can something properly!
    I hope you have a very Merry Christmas!
    Tammy x

    ReplyDelete
  22. What a wonderful idea for gifts, they looks so pretty! I still need to think of something for teacher presents. xx

    ReplyDelete
  23. I love everything about this - the candy you used (which I've never heard of and sounds so exotically American to me), the cute jars, the colour, all of it. I really wanted to make some chilli jelly this year but there just wasn't time. I am going to google Red Hots and see what they are. x

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for leaving a comment. It's so good to hear from you! I don't always have time to reply but I try to answer questions when I can.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...