This post is all about a wonderful DIY gift you can make for the food lovers on your gift list this holiday season. I’m giving you the recipe now because it needs to sit at least six weeks before being opened.
Read on for the recipe and photos. I hope you’ll try it. It only took me about 90 minutes to produce nine of these pretty jars. Now to decide which of my friends and family to gift them to….
Spiced Apple Rings
(a B.C. Tree Fruit Growers recipe with some notes by me)
Choose Royal Gala, Ambrosia or Granny Smith apples that will look great in tall (wide-mouthed) canning jars and will make a pretty gift for the food lovers on your list come the holiday season.
6 Cups sugar
1 2/3 cups 5% white vinegar
3 cups (bottled) clean water
Apples: 2-3 per jar
Dry spice options: star anise, clove, cardamom, allspice berries
Lemon Juice (use a commercial bottle to be sure of the proper pH)
6 x 24 oz (asparagus style) jars (substitute 250 ml or 500 ml wide mouth jars if necessary)
Six 2-piece sealer and ring lids
Apple Corer or small cookie cutter
Enamel canner (or large stockpot) with rack
1. Heat the brine to a bare simmer, then cover.
2. Cut a thin slice from top and bottom of each apple. Core the apples and cut 3 or 4 thick, horizontal slices from each apple; dip in lemon juice.
3. Put spice of your choice in the BOTTOM of the jar; be sparing! Stack apples in the jar, allowing room for hot liquid to circulate; insert the cinnamon stick through the centre of the apples. Pour hot liquid over; fill to within 1/8 inch of the top of the jar—barest head space. *
4. Gently push down between apple and jar with a spatula or skewer to loosen any air bubbles. Clean jar rim; put hot sealer lid on and hand-tighten ring. Place in canner, bring to full rolling boil for 15 minutes. (10 minutes at sea level) Add some cool water to canner; wait 5 minutes and gently remove jars.
5. The apples will fully absorb the flavours of the spices in 4 – 6 weeks and taste great alongside roast pork or turkey. They also make a fantastic addition to Sunday morning French toast.
*Most canning recipes insist on 1/4-1/2 inch head space. This recipe uses a firm apple and a cold-pack; the apples will release air during the canning process and produce the desired headspace in the finished product. The key is to be very careful in lifting the hot jars from the canner—do not lift immediately after boiling or handle the hot jars roughly.