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.)
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 sugar
- 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)
- 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
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.)
STERILIZE 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.