Apple canning and preservation continues into this week, and while I am happy to be canning, I will be kind of glad to be done with apples soon. On Friday I dipped my toe into new territory, flavored syrup. I wanted to try my hand at making apple syrup without the addition of corn syrup to the mix. I started off by using one of the two gallon bags of apple cuttings from the freezer. To the bag of cuttings, I also added three whole apples to the pot.
I followed the same procedure as making juice for the apple jelly. I measured out the apple parts and added the proportional amount of water to the pot, brought it to a boil, and then simmered to for a full 25 minutes. From there I drained it all through the jelly bag. This time, it was quite a bit more substance in the bag with less juice since I used mostly peelings and cores and very little overall flesh. Also, I missed the jelly bag a bit when emptying the pot. I had to run the juice through another mesh to make sure I got all of the solids out of the juice.
I got around three cups of juice out of the cuttings and a few apples. It was more than I had hoped for, and the experimentation was on. I looked over several recipes from my books and settled on a method rather than an actual recipe over another. I picked a couple of good cinnamon sticks to add to the syrup and also lemon juice for color and acidity boosting. From there it was crossed fingers and hopes for a good result.
I made a sugar solution and then cooked it until I made a very thick syrup. I brought the sugar syrup to just under the soft ball stage of heating, 230 degrees F or 110 degrees C. (You may have to adjust for altitude depending on where you live.) This seemed like a rather dicey operation as I loathe sugar burns, and I was not too sure how the introduction of the room temperature apple juice to the super hot sugar syrup would react. I added in the cinnamon sticks first to cook for a bit and to loosen them up a bit for the short cooking of the syrup. Next, I slowly but constantly added in all the apple juice.
From this point, I brought the solution up to a boil again over high heat. I boiled this all together for five minutes, stirring occasionally. I then removed this from heat, added the juice of a lemon, and then I commenced the canning. I processed the jars for 10 minutes with a 1/4 inch head space. We opened one jar right away on Saturday morning to see how it all turned out. I was really pleased with the flavor of the syrup. It was not too sweet, and the apple flavor was the main star with cinnamon playing a supporting rather than starring role. I think that the next time I make this I would definitely cook the apple juice and syrup mixture together longer. I think the extra cook time would have helped make it more solid and a bit less runny. It was overall a great first attempt I think.
We ended up with five half pints of the syrup. It was great over apple pancakes with whipped cream and some extra cinnamon. I also plan on using it as a topping for apple cinnamon ice cream or it could be used to soak pieces of sponge cake or angel food cake in for a quick fall flavored dessert.
No Corn Syrup Apple Syrup
3 cups of apple cuttings
3 apples, washed and rough cut with only seeds removed
2 cinnamon sticks
2 1/2 cup sugar
5 cups water separated
1/8 cup lemon juice
To Prepare the Juice Using cuttings from apple canning earlier in the week and a few whole apples to equal 3 cups of apple parts or starting with fresh apples, select about one fourth under ripe and three fourths fully ripe tart apples. Sort, wash and remove stem and blossom ends. Do not pare of core. (I do remove all the seeds though.) Cut apples into small pieces. Add 3 cups water, cover and bring to a boil on high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, or until apples are soft. Extract the juice using a moistened jelly bag. This takes around 2 hours. If you want a clear juice, do not squeeze the bag. For clearer juice, refrigerate the overnight and skim off any solids that are in the juice. If using fresh apples, keep solids from the jelly bag to make apple butter.
After the juice is extracted, prepare canner jars and lids, In a clean stainless steel saucepan, combine sugar and water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat stirring to dissolve all the sugar. Cook the mixture until it creates a syrup and reaches the temperature of 230 degrees F or 110 degrees C, adjusting for altitude. Add cinnamon sticks to the mixture and cook for a minute. Slowly and constantly add the apple juice to the sugar syrup. Return to a boil and boil for 5 minutes or until a thickness you desire. Stir occasionally. Turn off heat, add lemon juice. Ladle hot syrup into the hot jars. Leave 1/4 inch headspace. Place jars in canner and process for 10 minutes.
This yielded 5 half pints when I tried it.
I will see how the syrup reacts over time to both being refrigerated as well as shelf storage. I am not sure if it will thicken any, but it was super tasty. I doubt there will be much time to watch it on the shelf as I am sure it will be eaten fast.