Saturday, November 28, 2015

Don't toss those apple scraps-- make easy apple peel jelly!


Save the scraps and peels from making an apple pie, and turn them into a beautiful (and delicious) jelly

We always make apple pie at Thanksgiving. Usually my mom and I make a couple others as well: cherry, plus blueberry or peach. Apple is a given though, and for the past few years it's been my responsibility to peel and slice the apples. Seven or eight medium size apples go into the pie, and no matter how careful I am peeling and coring them, there's inevitably quite a bit of flesh that gets removed. 

I felt so guilty about discarding all this edible fruit.  I was sure there must be a way to make something out of the peels and cores, but had a hard time finding any suggestions. This year, though, I finally found a way to pull as much usefulness out of the peels as I could, courtesy of A Year Without Groceries: I made apple peel jelly!

I am amazed how simple the process was. You don't need to add any extra pectin, since there is so much pectin in the apples themselves. I have never made jelly or jam before, so was a little nervous about the process (especially with my family members all waiting to sample the results). It came out so well, though, I am considering making a big batch of apple butter or another pie when I get home, just to have peels to make more jelly!

Apple peels and cores
Lemon juice
Cinnamon (optional)


1. Put the apple peels and cores into a large pot, and fill with enough water to just see the water below the top peels.

I used a mix of apples in the pie and therefore in the jelly: Jonathan and Granny Smith. This jelly is very sweet so you probably want to include at least some tart apples.  

2. Bring the water to boil and cook, uncovered, until the peels are quite soft. The water will turn a lovely shade of pink. 

We tossed the cooked peels outside for the birds and squirrels after straining the liquid. At home I would have added them to my compost pile.

 3. Now strain the liquid into another pot.  You want to use a fine-mesh strainer (not a colander) to make sure things like seeds don't end up in your jelly. Press the solids against the strainer to make sure all the juice is squeezed out. I'm pretty sure a bit of pulp made it through my strainer, but the jelly still turned out nice and clear.

You'll want a smaller pot for boiling down the liquid. It starts out looking fairly cloudy.

4. Measure how much liquid you have at this point. (I had 3 1/2 cups.) Add 1 TB lemon juice for every 2 cups liquid, and 3/4 C sugar for every cup of liquid.  I also added about 1/2 tsp cinnamon.

 Bring the liquid back to a boil. Watch closely; when it gets close to being done it starts to foam up. You don't want it to boil over!

As the liquid merrily boils away, you can see it starting to clarify already.

You have to boil the liquid for quite a while to reduce and concentrate it. I think my batch took about 40 minutes, but I forgot to check the time when I started, so I'm not sure exactly.  The temperature of the liquid has to get up to 220F and stay there for a while before it will jell. 

5. While the liquid is boiling, put some ice in a small bowl nearby and get a small spoon ready. Periodically scoop a small amount of the liquid with your spoon, then place the spoon on the ice to cool it rapidly. Once cool, tilt the spoon over the pot to see how runny it is. When you first start, it will be very runny. A little later it will start to get thick and syrupy but still pour off the spoon in an even stream. When the jelly is almost done it will be even thicker but still drip off the spoon. It's done when the chilled spoonful has solidified and doesn't form drips. 

You can see the level had reduced quite a bit by the time the liquid was ready to jell, and the color darkened and clarified.

 6. Now ladle the jelly into clean, sterilized jars. According to the original directions, you should put on sterilized lids and process in a water bath canner for ten minutes. I haven't yet overcome my anxiety about this step of canning, though, so I skipped it and am storing the jelly in the fridge.

I ended up with two small jars of jelly, plus a bit extra. Such a gorgeous color!

We tested the jelly by slathering it onto little baked scraps of leftover pie crust dough. Yum! The next morning we also had the apple peel jelly on toast and English muffins. 

Like I said, this was super easy to do. You get beautiful, delicious jelly from scraps that would otherwise be discarded. I hope you'll give it a try this winter, whether for your own household or as gifts for friends and family. Enjoy!


  1. Helo, this is new for me! What a great idea! Thanks for sharing.
    Happy Sunday, enjoy your new week ahead!

  2. Hi Eileen! I made another (bigger) batch for Christmas presents and hostess gifts this winter. I was a little too impatient and didn't get the jelly to actually gel, but it's still delicious as a honey-like syrup. We smeared it on scones for Boxing Day breakfast; my sister also suggested heating the apple peel jelly/syrup and drizzling it over vanilla ice cream, like a deconstructed apple pie. Yum! Hope you have a great New Year.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.


Blogger Widget