Until this point, most of the jellies (all 3 of them) that I’ve made have had a common theme: chock-full of alcohol, or aspiring to be chock-full of alcohol. Aside from the obvious pure genius of this, the main reason for this was because I started experimenting with jelly making after last year’s berry season had already passed. “Shucks, guess I’ll have to wait till next summer…”. Last week as I was trolling through Pinterest, I came across Diana’s “Winter Canning 101: How to make jelly from fruit juice” from my Humble Kitchen… “wait, what, fruit juice jelly is a thing?!?” Excited to get started, I stopped by our local food co-op, grabbed a box of powdered pectin, and chose a bottle of organic Antioxidant Force juice. It wasn’t apparent to me until just now of how ironic my “anti-alcohol” antioxidant choice was… But I don’t want you guys to get the wrong impression of me, so onto the jelly!
Typically when I travel to near and far places, I take a yoga class at as many different studios as possible. This past week, I spent several days down in Atlanta, GA; amidst all the downward dogging, I couldn’t help but notice the plethora of fried pickles at several bars around town. Mostly cucumber pickles, but also the occasional okra and fried cauliflower pickle. Though not fried, I also sighted a vinegary batch of pickled fennel. Bizarre? Apparently not… A few weeks back, a friend and I were enjoying our evening at Birroteca, drinking some very strong beers, making new friends, etc., when the bartender noticed my copy of Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving peaking out of my tote bag (I SWEAR I don’t usually carry it around with me). This prompted her to 1) ask me if I wanted a job as their resident pickler, and 2) offer us a sample of every pickle in the joint, which included a taste of their pickled fennel. Let me first say that I’m usually a bit put off by the licorice flavor of fennel, but this cocktail garnish was surprisingly really good!
I don’t know about you, but I’m in the habit of starting most of my canning adventures at ~9 o’clock at night. My night owl canning tendencies typically work out just fine as the majority of things that I make are in small batches and take less than an hour. I’ve resisted my aptness for late night canning, and have held off on this apple cider molasses recipe all week waiting for a 4-5 hour idle window in my schedule. I came across the idea of apple molasses, also called boiled cider on the Auburn Meadow Farm blog.
A quick history lesson: boiled cider dates back to the sixteen-hundreds when European settlers would boil cider as a method for preserving it. In the past, boiled cider was commonly referred to as apple molasses because of its syrup consistency and because similar to molasses its main use was a sweetener for baking and cooking purposes. During the American Revolution, apple molasses was known as an indigenous sweeteners, which could readily be concocted right on the farm. For inland settlers, this may have been the only sweetener option as they did not live close or have easy access to the main coastal or riverine trade routes.