This is the feistiest preserve I’ve made in some time. Gingery heat with a lingering spiciness plus the aromatic allure of vanilla. And to think it all started with a pile of unseemly scraps. Peelings and cores of apples that had been cut up for pie, half a vanilla bean pod scraped of its seeds for the same pie, a few lemon quarters that had given up their juice, and accumulated peelings and tidbits of fresh ginger. The makings of jelly rescued from the compost heap for now but later to return, their precious flavor and pectin rendered.
On Thanksgiving, when I make a couple of apple pies, I place apple and lemon peels in a large saucepan, cover them with water and simmer the mixture for 30-40 minutes. The batch is then poured into a jelly bag and left to drip for hours or overnight. Apples and lemon – particularly the peels and seeds – have a lot of natural pectin so all you have to add is sugar (in a ration of 1 liquid to ¾ sugar) and any flavorings you want. This year I included ginger scraps and a vanilla pod in the initial soak. To intensify the ginger flavor, I simmered sliced ginger in the apple juice the next day and let it drain before combining with sugar to make the jelly. Always ready for an experiment, I scraped vanilla seeds into some of the jars before I canned them. When suspending anything in jelly, let the jelly cool a bit before adding the ingredient so that it is suspended, and then stir again in a minute or two.
I’m still perfecting this recipe, but here’s last year’s Thanksgiving Jelly to get you started. This one’s got big plans.