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Tart Honeycrisp Apple Cranberry/Cherry Conserve - Just in time for the holidays

Tart Honeycrisp Apple Cranberry/Cherry Conserve - Just in time for the holidays
Tart Honeycrisp Apple Cranberry/Cherry Conserve - Just in time for the holidays

But wait... What is a conserve?

The French would call it a jam with nuts.  However we are speaking English, and the English call jam with nuts a "conserve". It is traditionally made in the fall or winter, so it may contain some tried fruit too.  Our tart little conserve would work well as a condiment for meat or cheese; it could also be an alternative to cranberry sauce, (think Thanksgiving) or work as jelly (good as a topping for muffins).

First, I will be sharing just the recipe for making jam.  If you need information about the basic canning process please click here for Canning Instructions from Virginia Tech.

If you would like to print this recipe without all the pictures please click   Download Honeycrisp Apple Cranberry Conserve

 

Golden acorn logo!!! copy

 

Honeycrisp Apple Cranberry/Cherry Conserve

Author: Adapted from Honeycrisp Apple Cranberry Conserve Recipe from Little Jars, Big Flavors by Southern Living

Recipe type:

Conserve (jam with nuts)

 

Serves:

6, 8-oz jars or half- pints

Prep time: 

1 hour

 

Headspace:

1/4 inch

Cook time: 

1 hour

 

Processing:

5 minutes

Total time: 

2 hours

     

Ingredients:

3 cups apple juice (fresh pressed is best) 

3 cups cored and finely chopped Honeycrisp apples (unpeeled, about 3 large apples)

1/2 cup (lightly pressed) dried cranberries

1/2 cup (lightly pressed) dried cherries (tart)

2 sticks cinnamon

1/2 cup chopped pecans

Chop pecans
Chop pecans

2 packages (1 3/4 ounces each pack) fruit pectin (If you live in an area where truly fresh pressed apple juice is available, and are using that type, just use one box of pectin).

5 cups sugar                                   

Mix pectin with sugar and add sugar and pectin all at once
Mix pectin with sugar and add sugar and pectin all at once
Core and chop apples
Core and chop apples

 

Instructions:

  1. Sterilize jars and prepare lids per manufacture's instruction. 
    Ingredients ready to cook
    Ingredients ready to cook
  2. Measure apple juice and add to kettle. Add chopped apple, dried cranberries, dried cherries, and cinnamon sticks. Stirring constantly bring to a full rolling boil.
  3. Mix pectin with sugar. Add sugar and pectin all at once and stir well. Add nuts. Return mixture to a boil. Boil for one minute and check the set. (Do not skip this checking step - you may need to boil a second minute). When jelly mixture sheets from a spoon. Remove from heat; remove cinnamon sticks, skim off foam after cooling five minutes (cooling time prevents the berries from floating in the jar).
  4. Full boil - just smell the apples cooking
    Full boil - just smell the apples cooking
    4.  Ladle hot conserve mixture immediately into hot, sterile jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace. Wipe rims of jars with a dampened clean paper towel; add two-piece metal canning lids. Process in a Boiling Water Canner for 5 minutes.
    Into the water bath for 5 minuts
    Into the water bath for 5 minutes

Note: Processing time given is for 1000 foot elevation and below. If you are working at a higher elevation click here for information about needed time adjustments.

Jam will last at least one year at peak quality.

I suggest you label your jam jars. One may simply write on the lid, or you may download my personal labels by clicking Download Honeycrisp Apple Conserve label My labels have a larger round label for the lid and a smaller oval label for the front of jar. One just needs to write in the canning date, cut out, and glue the label on the jar. If the jam will be used as Christmas gifts, The Graphics Fairy has some nice ideas for holiday labels  http://thegraphicsfairy.com/homemade-gifts-jelly-holiday-labels-reader-feature/.

Hors d'oeuvres of Canadian bacon, our conserve, and feta cheese on top of crackers
Hors d'oeuvres of Canadian bacon, our conserve, and feta cheese on top of crackers

The Professor's Rating

The Professor gave it 3 stars. It has a nice tart flavor that could take the place of cranberry sauce. Wonderful hors d'oeuvres (pictured above). FYI, The Professor is more of a fan of sweets rather than tart/sweet.

 

 Honeycrisp Apple Cranberry/Cherry Conserve Demystified

 

Jam scientist's notebook coloredHow do I know this recipe is safe? pH and Heat

pH  - To be safe from botulism bacteria growth and its food poisoning toxins, the pH of canned goods must be below 4.6 (one wants to stay below pH 4.4. to be on the safe side). The pH of apple juice ranges from 3.35 to 4.0. The pH of dried cranberries has a pH of 2.8-3.0. The pH of sweet cherries is 3.8-4, but I used tart cherries, that should be on the low end, or a little lower. The end product should be between 2.8 and 3.4 - well within the safety zone. Low pH does not affect yeasts and molds.

Heat - Processing the jars in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes is enough heat to kill actively growing bacteria and prevent yeast and mold growth under normal sanitary circumstances. This is how we control the yeasts and molds that were not affected by the low pH.

 

Why did I mix the pectin with the sugar? or Why apple juice from store is hard to set into apple jelly:

Enzymes -When consumers buy apple juice they do not want the juice to turn into apple jelly in the container; they want a nice clear, thin juice instead of a viscous, cloudy liquid. To  accomplish this one of the things manufacturers do is add enzymes that destroy the pectin. Most enzymes can be inactivated by heat. Therefore, we attempted to inactivate the pectin destroying enzymes by bring our mixture to a boil before adding our boxed pectin, and we added two boxes of pectin to be on the safe side. If you live in an area where truly fresh pressed apple juice is available, and are using that type, just use one box of pectin because pectin destroying enzymes were not added to your juice.

pH and Gelling

pH is an important factor in the gelling of pectin. I had difficulty getting the original conserve recipe to gel.  I checked the pH of the conserve and found it to be 2.7. On the edge of being too low to gel. A pH range of 2.8 to 3.3 is needed to set the gel depending on the type of pectin. The most common cause of gel failure is not enough acid, but it is important to remember that too much acid also causes gel failure. The original recipe called for the addition of lemon juice, I have removed the lemon juice in the current recipe to moderate the pH. Cranberries are similar to citrus fruits in their tartness due to the natural fruit acids they contain, so we have enough acid from the cranberries without the addition of lemon juice.

Conditions for Gelling

pH of mixture

3.6 – no gel (pH too high)

3.4 – weak gel

3.2 - good gel

3.0 – good firm gel

2.8 - good gel

2.6 – weak gel –syneresis (liquid separated from the gel) may occur

2.4 – no gel (pH too low)

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The Jam Scientist