Apple jam recipe made with fresh apples, spices, an acidic ingredient and a sweetener. Spread on a warm piece of toast, a fresh piece of bread, a flaky paratha or a slice of pound cake, this homemade apple jam is a sweet treat that is both delicious and comforting. It is a great way to utilize an abundance of apples when they are in season. With just a few simple ingredients you can make apple jam right at home. We love it with cinnamon, star anise and a hint of vanilla, but it can be customized to suit your taste.
The important thing is that you make something that highlights the natural flavor of the fruit and enhances it with something complementary that does not hide its flavor.
Making apple jam starts in a similar way as making apple sauce. The difference here is that jam has a higher ratio of sugar. Beyond that, apple jam has a thicker consistency that can stand up on its own, allowing you to spread it without being runny.
This homemade jam is simply delicious, so flavorful and takes only little time.
What Apples to Choose
There are so many varieties of apples to choose from. A quick visit to your local grocery store can seem confusing, perhaps, but it is worth noting that some apples are better than others when it comes to making apple jam.
The best options are firm, yet sweet, and have a good balance of acidity. I have used Candine and Envy apples with great results, though other promising varieties include Gala, Granny Smith, Fuji, and Honeycrisp.
There is even something to be said about combining a couple of varieties of your favorite apples for a flavor that has a bit more depth.
Preparation for apple jam recipe
There are some important things to keep in mind when making apple jam. First of all, it is best to choose apples when they are in season. They offer better flavor and consistency than apples that have been stored for long periods of time.
Second, always make jam in a heavy-bottomed saucepan to avoid burning. A lightweight pan can scorch, especially when working with high sugar content foods like jam. If you like to go handsfree, use your instant pot just like the way I did it.
Rinse the apples very well under running water. Peel, core and quarter them.
Start with apples that have been grated in a food processor because that really breaks the apple down right from the start and eliminates the need for an immersion blender. However if you want a smooth apple jam you may simply start by chopping the apples at this stage and blend once they are cooked.
How to Make Apple Jam
The process is really quite simple. It involves cooking the apples along with the apple cider vinegar, and spices in a saucepan over low heat until the apples begin to release their natural juices.
Add the grated apples to the pot and pour apple cider.
Add star anise and cinnamon stick.
Pour 3 tablespoons water to avoid burning. Cover the pot and cook on a low heat. To cook in IP, pressure cook for 0 minutes. Wait for the natural pressure release and open the lid.
The apples will soften and begin to release the moisture.
Add sugar and mix well. Continue to cook on a medium heat. If you are using IP, cook on saute mode.
Once the jam starts boiling you really need to keep an eye on things. Small, rapid bubbles will eventually give way to slower, larger bubbles which is an indication that your jam is reducing and thickening. Add vanilla extract at this stage.
I feel adding some ground cinnamon is essential at this stage. So add a bit here if you like.
The tricky part is knowing when your jam has reduced enough to achieve the proper consistency. Swipe the bottom of your pot with a spatula. It should leave a trail behind the spatula. This means the apple jam is almost done.
When you think your jam is getting close to the proper thickness spoon a small amount on a cold plate. Your jam should retain its shape without running.
A finger swiped through the center of it will leave a trail that will not fill in.
You can see the apple jam has reached the right consistency.
Once you have achieved this consistency you can allow your jam to cool and store it in a glass jar in your refrigerator for few months, though don’t be at all surprised if it disappears rather quickly. I tripled the recipe so got 3 bottles of jam.
Importance of Sugar
Of course, sugar lends palatability to this apple jam that makes it really delicious, but beyond that, it is important for the proper texture. Sugar, as it is cooked with the apples and reduced, adds thickening properties that take this from mere apple sauce to apple jam.
Without an adequate amount of sugar, you will never achieve something that is soft yet spreadable. Also sugar acts a preservative in a jam, helping it to keep good for longer periods.
Why acidic ingredient? (Vinegar or lemon juice)
The most obvious answer to this question is that an acid helps balance the sweetness of the apple jam. Without it, your jam will be cloyingly sweet.
Beyond that, acid is necessary for the proper thickening properties of the natural-occurring pectin. Without it, your jam would not be as delicious or as thick. Also acidic ingredient especially vinegar acts as a natural preservative and prevents mould.
Can I Can Apple Jam?
If you wish to preserve your jam for longer shelf life, you may consider canning it. This process requires sterilized jars that are boiled in a large pot fitted with a lid.
Once you have cooked your jam to the desired consistency, it is best to work with it while it is still hot, filling your jars carefully with a canning ladle, leaving between ¼ and ½ inch of space at the top. Wipe the edges of your jars with a damp cloth.
Place lids carefully on jars and submerge them into a large pot that will accommodate them, covering them with water by at least two inches. Bring this to a boil for 15 minutes before removing carefully with tongs. Allow them to cool at room temperature for 24 hours before storing them in a dark cool place. Enjoy for months to come!
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
- 450 grams apples (1 lb)
- ¾ cup sugar (refer notes)
- 3 tablespoons apple vinegar
- 3 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 to 3 inch cinnamon (piece)
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon (adjust to taste)
- 1 star anise
- Rinse, peel, core and quarter the apples. Grate them in a food processor. If you don't have a food processor simply chop them as fine as possible.
- Add the apples to a heavy bottom saucepan or pot. Add vinegar, water, cinnamon stick and star anise.
- Cover and cook on a low heat until the apples are slightly softened.
- Add sugar and continue to cook stirring often until thick. Add ground cinnamon and vanilla.
- When it thickens test by swiping the bottom of the pot with a spatula. It should leave a trail behind the spatula. (Check step by step photos in the post)
- Do a final test by dropping a spoonful of apple jam on a cold plate. It should not spread and must retain its shape. The other way to check is to cool it slightly and run your finger in the center of the jam. It should leave a space showing the line.
- Cool apple jam completely and store in a clean air tight dry glass jar. It lasts for few months in the refrigerator. Spread it on toasts, parathas or fresh bread.
- Preparing apples: if you don’t wish to start with grated apples, this jam can be made with peeled and chopped apples. For this method, simmer your apples with the remaining ingredients until they are very soft. Use an immersion blender to gently pulse the apples so they are broken down, though not completely pureed. Then proceed as directed.
- Sugar: If you cut down the sugar in the recipe, your jam won’t keep good for long. You may use as little as 4 tbsps but you won’t get the same texture, flavor and taste.
- Acidic ingredient: You may use lemon juice instead of vinegar but I can’t assure you of the longer shelf life.
- Whole spices can be replaced with ground spices. Start with small quantities of ground spices and add more if required.
- Nutritional values are for the entire recipe.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
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