Some York apples found their way into my kitchen recently, so this weekend I took a crack at apple jam à la russe.
York, or York Imperial, apples are an old variety originally from (surprise) York, Pennsylvania. They are somewhat mealy and bland when eaten out of hand, but they are good 'keeping apples' and they cook up nicely into sauce and pies, so they seemed like a good candidate for a jam experiment.
The macerate-and-cook method does in fact keep the apple chunks intact, so you get a proper jam instead of applesauce. Oh, and that 10-minute boil at the end? Turns the syrup into caramel. Yes, that's right, this turns into caramel apple jam in the end. Oh, the humanity!
Cinnamon is not my favourite spice -- it's overused and bores me -- but I found I couldn't really decide between orange peel or vanilla as additives, so I decided to go with both, added after the last boil. I stand by this decision, but if you had to pick only one, I'd say go with the vanilla, because, caramel apples. Caramel without a little vanilla isn't caramel at all -- or at least so say I.
2 1/2 lbs peeled, cored, and finely chopped apples (weigh after peeling, coring, etc).
12 oz granulated sugar
grated zest of one orange
1 tsp vanilla extract
enough canning jars to hold about 2 pints of jam, plus lids and rims.
In the evening: Combine the apples and sugar in a large nonreactive pot with a lid. Mix gently but thoroughly, cover, and leave to sit overnight.
The next morning: Stir the apples, place the pot on the stove over medium heat and bring to a boil. Allow to boil for 2 minutes, then remove from the heat, cover, and set aside.
At midday: Repeat the previous step.
In the evening: Do whatever you need to do to prepare your canning jars. Stir the apples and place over medium heat as before, but allow to boil for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. After 10 minutes, remove the pot from the heat and stir in the orange zest and vanilla, then pack into hot jars and process in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes.
You can spread this on toast if you like but I think its true calling might be in a tartlet, or spooned over vanilla ice cream.