In Summer I make Peach Jam.
In Autumn I make Apple Jam.
Well, last time I looked outside, it was definitely Autumn. So I've been busy making up batches of this Mulled Apple Cider Jam. Sounds intense, I know.
It really makes everything taste like apple pie. Seriously. So good.
If you're not familiar with Apple Cider, it's a totally soul-warming and comforting hot drink made from unfiltered apple juice and an assortment of different aromatic flavourings, including cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, allspice and citrus peel.
Let's address pectin again, shall we?
None of my jam recipes use added pectin since fruit contains enough natural pectin on its own. It just needs the right combination of sugar and acidity to activate it.
Apples and especially citrus peels are among the fruits that contain the highest levels of natural pectin. The powdered pectin that you find in the grocery store is actually produced from apple pomace and dried citrus peels.
The tricky thing about making apple jam is that most of the pectin lives in the peel.
Unfortunately I don't like the texture of apple peel in my jam since it's not soft enough to break down like peach skins do. Sucks.
Fortunately, a few strips of citrus peel contain more than enough pectin to set this jam up to a semi-firm texture (just the way I like it!). Sweet.
The key is to extract the pectin before building your jam. Heating the citrus peels in the acidulated water with the apples will achieve this. Acid provided by the lemon juice will break down complex native pectin molecules in citrus peel to lend a wealth of thickening commercial pectin.
So, in this recipe, orange and lemon peel are not only vital in creating a Mulled Apple Cider flavour, but they also play a very important technical role.
I bet their parents would be proud.
Did I mention this jam is exquisite smothered over these Cinnamon Date Scones?
It's like spreading on a layer of apple pie.
Yes, yes, yes!