Apple Earl Grey Almond Jelly

I posted a version of this recipe a few weeks ago, when I was making myself crazy trying to get it right. Since then, I’ve worked it over both in my head and on the stove — and I think I’ve finally got it down. This time around, the set is divine, and I can taste all three ingredients — apple, Earl Grey tea, and a touch of almond.

For all this goodness, I bow low to the ingredients. I happened across some flawless, crisp, organic Granny Smith apples. And I’m a huge fan of the big flavor in Peet’s Earl Grey with Bergamot tea. Add to that some high-quality almond extract and we’re good to go. (I just realized there are whole almonds in the photo above, but no real nuts needed to make the jelly — just the extract and your own nutty self.)

You know you love your jelly when you get up at sunrise just so you can take a photo of it . . .

Apple Earl Grey Almond Jelly

3 1/4 pounds Granny Smith apples
6 1/2 cups water, plus 8 ounces for tea
4 cups sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 1/2 tablespoons Earl Grey tea
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1. Wash and quarter the apples without peeling or coring them. Put them into a heavy pot, cover with 6 1/2 cups water, and simmer 1/2 hour on low heat. The apples will be soft and pulpy.

2. Strain the mixture through a boiled jelly bag or layers of cheesecloth that you’ve doused in boiling water and wrung out. This will take several hours. (Resist the urge to press or squeeze; you’ll cloud the juice.) After you have the juice, quickly strain it a second time (again through a scalded, clean jelly bag or cheesecloth) to catch any straggling pulp. Pour the juice into a bowl and refrigerate it overnight.

3. The next day, measure 4 1/2 cups of the juice into your pot, scooping the juice from the top of the bowl to avoid any sediment at the bottom. Add the sugar and lemon juice to the pot. Somewhere around this point, perhaps while you are gently heating the mixture to dissolve the sugar, you also need to prepare your tea by adding 8 ounces boiling water to the tea and letting it steep for 3 minutes — then set the tea aside. Before adding the tea, you need to bring the mixture to a boil and cook it nearly to the jelling point. (I took mine off the heat at about 218F.)

4. Add the tea and return the mixture to a boil. Boil to the jelling point (220F) and remove from heat.

5. Add 1/4 teaspoon almond extract.

6. Ladle the hot jelly into your sterilized jars and process in a water bath canner. (You can find basic instructions for hot water bath canning at the National Center for Home Food Preservation website.) I left 1/4 headspace and processed for 5 minutes. Makes four lovely half-pints.

A few last words to give credit where credit is due. The inspiration for this jelly was threefold: ingredients from Frances Bissell’s Preserving the Harvest, techniques and proportions from Mes Confitures, and the gorgeous taste of the Apple Apricot Almond jelly made by my friend at What Julia Ate.

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