Bourbon Lemon Apple Preserves
Canning and Chill season is upon us! No, I don’t mean Netflix and Chill. I said what I said… canning. As we move into Fall the harvest at local farmer’s markets and from my farm, Libertad Urban Farm yield yummy treats that are perfect for preserving for the impending winter. In New York State, the apple capital of the world we are up to our ears in amazing, juicy, ripe apples and I was more than happy to come up with a preserve that would capture it’s depth, sweetness and the notes of a crisp New York Fall night. I wanted it to taste like a version of hard apple cider with a little tanginess. So, I took a gang of left over Honeycrisp, Ruby Frost and Gala apples from my Farm Stand Box at my farm, Lemon Confit that I learned to make when I traipsed my juicy self through the culinary skreets of Paris and some cinnamon and came up with this amazing creation.
This recipe is HUGE. I made a large batch so that I could give pints of it out as gifts to my farmers at LUF. Feel free to cut it down if you don’t need much. I have also included the instructions on canning them in a hot water bath canner but if you don’t want to do that it can be kept refrigerated for up to three months. However, I strongly suggest canning if you are going to give these as a gift. Properly canned preserves can be kept in a pantry and unrefrigerated for up to 18 months. An affordable canning kit can be bought online for $35 or less with all that you’ll need to get started or you can rig up your own in a pinch. Check out this hack from The Kitchn.
Fresh apples are the key to a vibrant tasting jam. As with any dish you make the fresher the ingredients the better the taste. This is especially true for jams, preserves and canned fruit. If possible and season permits take advantage of any local orchards for apple picking or visit a local farmer’s market, not only will your jam have superior taste but you will be supporting local growers!
Apple and lemon are complimentary flavors but Lemon Confit takes it up a notch. Confit is to preserve by packing, usually with fat, salt or sugar. I was first introduced to confit in March of 2017 during my trip to Paris to accept the Women Stop Hunger award from Stop Hunger a nonprofit of Sodexo. My irreverent and very funny host Mathilde suggested I use lemon confit in my Mama Tanya’s Kitchen Facebook live. Lemon confit taste bright with just a touch of pungency. It is sweet and a little bit salty and taste almost like lemon candy. It is versatile and not used NEARLY enough in American cuisine. Lemon confit must be made in advance and the longer it sits the better it taste with it being suggested that you let it marinate for a minimum of two weeks. The ones I used for this jam I made 6 months ago. I almost ate a quarter of the lemon alone. It is just that good! If you don’t want to wait on your c0nfit then you can get preserved lemons from a high quality supermarket like Fairway or Whole Foods or you can elect to purchase them online. In a real pinch you can use regular raw lemons but the taste will not be the same and my suggestion is to use one lemon less because the lemon taste will be VERY strong. This recipe really pops because of the confit, don’t fight me on this, I have already showed you how to make it, trust me…use the lemon confit.
Bourbon which has been recognized as uniquely American and is finding it’s way into more and more recipes to rival Brandy. It is generally used in desserts and sweet treats so it goes great in this sweet jam. Bourbon also pairs really well with apples. Using it in this recipe is reminiscent of a spiked or hard cider and nothing says fall like warm spiked cider! I used Jim Beam because it is affordable and still quality. While using good alcohol in recipes is recommended because quality but do so within reason don’t use your best aged bourbon in this jam unless you about that life and feel compelled to stunt.
Equipment: 6 or 7 quart Dutch Oven, Rubber Spatula, ladle, 7 pint Mason jars, Canning pot with wire rack and jar lifter
- 10-12 cups of fresh apples (approximately 18-20 apples)
- 3 cups of water
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 1/4 cup of pectin
- 1 cup of lemon confit diced
- 12 cups of Demerara or Turbinado sugar
- 2 tablespoons cinammon
- 2 tablespoons butter (optional, this helps to reduce the foam on top and help avoid the tedium of skimming the top, it also adds depth to the flavor)
- 1 cup of Bourbon Whiskey
Start to prepare the water for your water bath and warm your jars if canning (see instructions below). Combine the apples, water and lemon juice in your Dutch Oven and over medium low heat with the top on bring the apples to a simmer, Cook for 10 minutes. Once the apples are bloated and soft add the pectin and fold in until dissolved and the liquid thick, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar, diced lemon confit and cinnamon. Turn up your flame/heat and bring to a hard boil until the mixture cannot be stirred down. You will notice that it is foamy cook at a full hard boil for 2-3 minutes. Add the butter, if omitting the butter skim the foam off the top. Reduce heat to medium and add bourbon, cook another minute but not too much longer because then you will lose the “punch” of the alcohol. Turn off the flame and remove pot from heat. Ladle hot mixture into prepared jars and process for canning or allow to cool and store in fridge for up to 3 months.
Instructions For Canning
Before you start to prepare your jam fill your hot water bath canner halfway and allow the water to simmer but not boil (heat the water on low until it steams). Add your mason jars to the water (allow the water in canner to fill the jars so they don’t float). Keep the jars there until you are ready to use, keeping the jars heated will avoid any cracking from thermal shock when you add the hot jam later. Ince your jam is ready use your jar lifter to lift the jars out of the hot water and pour any water in the jars back into the canner, ladle the jam into the hot jars (use a canning funnel if you have it, it’s safer and cleaner, who wants to clean up sticky hot jam?), leave 1/4 inch of headspace (this will allow the hair to escape and make the jar air-tight and preserve the contents). Wipe the rim with a clean damp cloth and sit the top and then screw on the band until fingertip tight but not so tight that air can’t escape after the hot water bath, essentially don’t OVER SCREW it. Use only NEW tops and bands to avoid contamination…botulism is no joke, folks. Return prepared jars into water bath, make sure the jars are covered by at least two inches. Bring to a full boil, cover and then process for 15 minutes, don’t start timing until the water has reached a full boil. Remove the top and allow to sit for an additional five minutes. Remove the jars and allow to rest on clean paper towel or cloth. Leave undisturbed for at least 12 hours in that time you will here the jars pinging, that is the top sealing. The canning has been successful if when you press the top it is concave and does not flex, remove the band and see if you can lift the top. If it doesn’t budge with a little nudge then your jar is sealed and air tight! Replace the band (you don’t have to but I think it looks less “naked” with it), label with the date they were prepared and keep in a cool, dark pantry or cabinet.