Glossy, sweetly fragrant Apple Jelly is a special way to prepare apples. Serve this gorgeous homemade preserve on toast, scones, and more.
Easy Apple Jelly Recipe
If you’re looking for a new way to use up apples, make apple jelly! This gorgeous homemade preserve is a different yet utterly delicious way to use up all the apples from your tree. You’ll need just four ingredients and a few hours to turn out a handful of bright jars of not-too-sweet jelly that works perfectly spread on fresh bread with butter, scones, or even as a glaze when you make a roast.
This recipe is adapted from the New York Times.
Why You’ll Love This Homemade Jelly
There’s a lot to love about this unique jelly! After all, how often do you find apple jelly in the store? (Answer: not often.) It’s so uncomplicated to make this easy homemade apple jelly at home. Here’s why you’ll love it:
- Special. As mentioned, you won’t find apple jelly everywhere. I love preserving jars of apple jelly and giving them away for special holiday gifts.
- Easy. I love this recipe because you don’t need to peel or core the apples – you simply chop them up and place them in a pot with water. So easy!
- Short ingredients list. I love a recipe with a short ingredients list and you’ll need just apples, sugar, lemon juice, a pinch of salt, and water to make this jelly.
- A great way to use apples. You can use any kind of apple you have on hand to make this jelly, which means it’s a perfect option to dive into when you’ve made applesauce, apple butter, and pie but still have apples leftover!
Here’s a glance at what you’ll need to make this beautifully colored apple jelly. The full ingredient amounts and instructions are in the recipe card below.
- Apples – You can use whatever cooking apples you like. I used our Gravenstein apples.
- Granulated sugar – Sugar helps to thicken and sweeten the jelly
- Lemon juice – Lemon juice adds a gorgeous balance of slightly tart to the sweet apples and its natural pectin content helps the jelly to set
- Salt – A touch of fine sea salt enhances the flavor of the jelly
How to Make Apple Jelly
Follow my simple method outlined below to make these homemade preserves.
- Prepare the apples: Cut the apples into 1-inch pieces without peeling or coring.
- Cook the apples: Place the apples in a large nonreactive pot with water and boil, then simmer.
- Strain the apples: Strain the apples through a fine-mesh sieve into a pot.
- Cook the juice: Cook the apple juice with the sugar and lemon juice.
- Simmer the jelly: Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the liquid reduces by about three-quarters.
- Store the jam: Ladle the hot liquid into clean, sanitized jars.
Tips & Variation Suggestions
Making homemade jam or jelly can feel intimidating but you can definitely do it yourself in your own kitchen! Here are a few tips for making the best apple jelly:
- Try different apples. You can use any kind of apple you like to make apple jelly! I typically make apple jelly with our homegrown Gravenstein apples but you could use another type of apple. A sweeter apple will produce a sweeter jelly.
- Make it with honey. If you wish to make this jelly refined sugar-free, you could experiment with using honey instead of sugar. You may find you want to reduce the amount of honey because it is naturally quite sweet.
- Try this method to make pear jelly. You can substitute pears for the apples and follow the method outlined above!
- Can or make fridge jelly. You can easily keep this jelly in the fridge and enjoy it without needing to can it. However, I love taking an extra step and canning preserves! If you have never canned preserves before, the USDA guide is a great place to start.
How to Enjoy Apple Jelly
You can keep uncanned apple jelly in glass jars with screw-top lids in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Store properly canned apple jelly in a cool, dark place – like your pantry – for up to 2 years.
More Preserves Recipes
- 3 ½ pounds apples I used Gravenstein apples
- 4 cups granulated sugar
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice from about 2 lemons
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Cut the apples into 1-inch pieces without peeling or coring, but discard any damaged or spoiled spots.
- Place the apples in a large nonreactive pot and pour in 8 cups of water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower heat to maintain a simmer and cook without stirring until the apples soften, 35 to 40 minutes (sometimes less).
- Remove from the heat. Set a fine-mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth over another large pot, and pour the apple-water mix into the sieve. Try not to press on the apples so that the jelly does not become cloudy. You should end up with about 7 cups of juice. The NYT recipe notes that some apples can take hours to strain, but mine did not! If it does take awhile to strain the apples you can place the sieve and pot in the refrigerator.
- Place a small plate in the freezer to use for testing the setting point of the jelly. Set the pot with the juice over medium-high heat. Add the sugar and lemon juice, and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil, skimming and discarding any foam that rises to the surface.
- Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the liquid reduces by about three-quarters and a candy or deep-fry thermometer registers 225 degrees. This will take about 40-50 minutes, occasionally longer. To test for doneness, spoon a small amount of liquid onto the cold plate from the freezer and return to the freezer to cool completely, about 2 minutes. Drag a spoon through the jelly. The setting point has been reached if it wrinkles and the wrinkles hold their shape. If they don’t, continue to cook the jelly and test every few minutes on the cold plate.
- Once the jelly is done cooking, add the salt and stir to dissolve. Ladle the hot liquid into clean, sanitized jars, screw on the lids, and follow the steps to can your jelly, or allow to cool to room temperature and store in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks.