How to make easy spiced-apple rings in a jar

Great with barbecued chicken and fish, or as a stunning secret ingredient to grilled cheese sandwiches, they also make an impressive hostess gift.

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Spiced apple rings in a jar

Spiced apple rings in a jar

Last week I was in Kelowna, B.C. lending my thoughts at the Okanagan Food & Wine Writers’ Workshop. When not honing our writing skills, we had a grand old time meeting local farmers and vintners, bakers and fishmongers, cheesemakers and fruit growers – all of whom work together to make the area such a delicious place to visit. (Spoiler alert: Watch for an upcoming Food & Travel feature in Chatelaine.)

One day, at the Delta Grand Okanagan, Executive Chef Stuart Klassen treated us to an amazing array of jarred goodies for lunch. Everything from quinoa-lentil salad and cherry-topped chicken liver mousse, to grilled cheese and shortrib sandwiches, and beer brownies were presented in perfect jar-sized portions. (Note: We plan on stealing most of these great ideas.)

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The reason for all the adorable snackable jars? Lunch was a harbinger for a fun cooking class on how to make Spiced Apple Rings, demonstrated by BC Tree Fruits orchardist Hank Markgraf and his wife Darcell Markgraf.

Apples are available year round, so while we may be thinking about springtime rhubarb and strawberries right now, these sweet, pickled apples take a few weeks to set and spice up. Great with barbecued chicken and fish, or as a stunning secret ingredient to grilled cheese sandwiches, they also make an impressive hostess gift. Here’s Darcell’s recipe.

Spiced apple rings

  • 6 cups sugarApple coring
  • 1 2/3 cups white vinegar
  • 3 cups (preferably bottled) clean water
  • apples (2-3 per jar)
  • cinnamon sticks
  • dry whole spices, such as star anise, cardamom, cloves
  • lemon juice (to prevent apples from browning)

Special Equipment:

  • 6 x 24 oz (tall asparagus style) jars
  • 6 x 2-piece sealer and ring lids
  • Apple corer
  • Jar lifter
  • Large stockpot with canning rack

Method:

COMBINE sugar, vinegar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Be sure sugar has melted, then turn off heat.

WASH and dry apples. Have lemon juice standing by. Cut a thin slice from the top and bottom of each apple, then core the apples.

CUT 4-5 thick horizontal slices from each apple and dip in lemon juice. Put some spices in the bottom of each jar – just 2-3 of each spice. Rebuild apples in the bottle, stacking them so hot liquid can circulate. Insert a cinnamon stick through centre of apples (where the cores used to be.)

Stacked apple slices with spices in a jarSTERILIZE jars by cleaning in the dishwasher. Place lids in boiling water to soften the sealer ring.

POUR enough hot sugar/vinegar mixture over apples to completely fill to the rim – no headspace. Gently push down on apples to loosen any air bubbles.

CLEAN jar rims, put hot sealer lid on and screw tight.

PLACE jars in canning pot and bring to a rolling boil for 15 minutes. Add some cool water to the canner at the end, wait 15 minutes then remove jars and allow to cool. Let sit for several weeks before serving.

3 comments on “How to make easy spiced-apple rings in a jar

  1. Neat idea, pickled apples!

    Personally, I always boil my canning jars for 10 minutes to sterilize them – your dishwasher generally doesn’t get that hot and therefore cannot kill bacteria as well. It’s an extra step, but VERY worth it for food safety!

    I am also a little concerned by the direction for no headspace – generally you need this as otherwise the pickling liquid you put in will bubble and push off the lid enough to spill the liquid out from the jar. You won’t get water in, but you will get a big, huge mess in your pot! The liquid needs to cover your apples (or any other pickled preserve you make) but once that’s done there is no reason to not have head space.

    Also, just gently tighten the outer rings on your lids for the boiling step – you tighten them all the way after they’ve had a chance to cool on your counter for a little while. You need the lids to be able to suck in and ‘pop’ down before you tighten the bands, because if they don’t, they didn’t seal properly, air will be getting in and unless you pop that jar into the refrigerator it isn’t safe to eat it later on.

    One other point – if you want to do more jars than fit into your canner, you can use a jar lifter/oven tongs and an oven mitt to get them out of the pot while the water is still hot. Pop your next batch in, and you’re good to go!

    Reply

  2. Thanks for your comments, and I hear what you’re saying, but Darcell talked about food safely a lot and said in our modern era this recipe hits all the right safety notes. In terms of leaving no head room, that’s specific to the how the apple rings function.

    Reply

  3. You can view the original tested recipe here:
    http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can_02/apple_rings_spiced.html

    The National Center for Home Food Preservation covers extensive safety canning info; as well they have an impressive array of tested recipes!

    This is what they say about jars:
    “Jars do not need to be sterilized before canning if they will be filled with food and processed in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes or more.” We canned this recipe for 15 minutes—an important point.

    About headspace, you are right—jars can indeed “volcano” if you overfill. I chose to eliminate the headspace in this version of the recipe because we are cold-pack canning. Apples and pears have a lot of extra air in their cells, which should be cooked out before you fill the jar, or you end up with too much headspace. Most recipes will have you blanch or pre-heat the fruit. That step makes for broken apple rings, so we solved that by cold packing and handling the jars carefully. (Thanks to my long-time orchard neighbour and mentor, Katie Janzen, for showing me this trick!)

    Here’s how to make it work…….first, fill the jars. Then, add the boiling liquid almost to the top, and spend some time with a spatula or skewer to gently press or stir all of the air bubbles out. Top up the jar until completely full, then make absolutely sure the top of the jar is wiped completely clean with a paper towel. Add the seal and ring, and place the jar into a hot, but not boiling canner. Bring the canner to a full rolling boil, THEN start timing for 15 minutes. When the 15 minutes are up, leave the jars in the canner until all boiling subsides, about five extra minutes. If you wish, pour a bit of lukewarm water in the canner to bring the temperature down while you wait. Take them out VERY SLOWLY with a jar lifter, it’s the abrupt removal which causes the volcano effect.

    In our demo all of the jars sealed—yay!—you can’t see it in the photo but there is a proper head space due to the air that escaped from the apples themselves.
    Cheers, and Happy Preserving!
    Darcel Markgraf, B.S. Food Science and Human Nutrition
    BC Tree Fruits

    Reply

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