If you have fresh apples that you need to preserve or just want to make a few jars of apple jelly for the breakfast table, make a batch of some old-fashioned jelly. Be prepared for several hours of cooking if you have a large quantity of fresh fruit. Use the same method to make old-fashioned jelly as you would for canning fruits and vegetables. A boiling-water canner eliminates the need for a pressure cooker.
Preparing the Apples
Wash, core and pare the apples. Remove any dark or bruised portions. You need about 1 pound of apples for 3 cups of jelly.
Place apples into a pan or pot, cover and bring quickly to a rapid boil. Some fruit juices require the addition of pectin, a substance that gels fruit juice, but apples contain natural pectin. Cook the apples in a pan large enough to allow them to boil freely.
Reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the apples are soft. Scrape the sides of the pan periodically during the cooking process to make sure that all apples are cooked. Check for softness after about 15 minutes to avoid overcooking.
Pour cooked apples into a jelly bag made from cheesecloth or muslin, and collect the juice as it drips into another container. Pour the juice into a heavy saucepan. Add 1 cup of sugar and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice for every pound of apples and stir to mix well.
Cooking the Jelly
Cook the juice, sugar and lemon mixture over high heat and allow it to boil rapidly. Remove from heat when the temperature reaches about 220 degrees when tested with a cooking thermometer.
Allow the mixture to stand for a few minutes to cool. Check for the proper consistency. If the mixture is too thin, return to the heat for a few minutes until it is thick enough to stay on a spoon.
Remove from the heat immediately, skim off excess foam and then pour into hot, sterile jelly jars to about a quarter inch from the top. Clean the jar rims before placing the flats and rings on them. Screw down the rings as tightly as possible before placing the jars into a heavy kettle of water. Ensure the jars are completely submerged. Bring the water to a boil for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from the water, cool at room temperature and store in a cool place or refrigerate. Store properly sealed jars for up to a year.