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While you may not think it wise to preserve your grandma’s famous apple pie and gingerbread on a shelf for a year, rest assured that in this case, it is. Though similar to a bed-in-a-bag, apple pie is a much more delicious, though equally practical, concept. Take your homemade jar of apple pie, add a couple more spices, and travel half a world away and you’ve got Chinese five-spice chutney. Throw in an Armenian monk (or eleventh century crusaders, depending on who you ask) and you’re in Europe making jam.
The recipes below are a testament to the border-hopping comfort and warmth provided by cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, star anise, peppercorns, and grandmas of all kinds.
Recipe for Apple Pie in a Jar
Makes five 1L jars
What could be better than pouring a pre-made, homemade apple pie filling into a pie shell? Perhaps eating the filling directly from the jar with a spoon. It almost makes you want to be gluten intolerant. Grind the cinnamon and nutmeg yourself for a fresher flavour.
4 cups white sugar, 3/4 cup cornstarch, 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 7 1/2 cups water, 1/4-1/2 cup lemon juice, 6 pounds apples (MacIntosh, Paula Red, Gala, Spartan, Russet or any pie apples).
Sterilize canning jars and rings by boiling them in a large canning pot of water for 10 minutes. In a large pot, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Add water and whisk again. Bring to a boil and cook until thick and bubbly. Remove from heat and add lemon juice to taste. It shouldn’t be overly sweet. The apples will add natural sugar.
Peel, core, and slice apples. Pack into hot canning jars, leaving ½-inch headspace. Shake jars and knock against counter to stuff in more apple slices. Add canning lids to hot water for 5 minutes (do not boil).
Fill jars with hot syrup, and remove air bubbles with a chopstick or other non-metallic, long, thin utensil. Wipe lip of jars, put lids and rims on and process in a water bath canner for 20 minutes.
Recipe for Chinese Five-Spice Chutney
Makes six 250mL jars
1/2 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces, 4 whole cloves, 1 tsp whole fennel seeds, 1/2 tbsp whole star anise, broken into pieces 1/2 teaspoon whole. Szechuan peppercorns, 8 cups peeled and chopped apples, 2 cups minced onion, 1 1/2 cups raisins, 4 cups palm sugar, cane sugar, coconut sugar or brown sugar, 3 cups apple cider vinegar. Zest and juice of 2 lemons, 4 tsp non-iodized salt.
Sterilize canning jars and rings by boiling them in a large canning pot of water for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and keep pot covered and hot until needed. Combine whole spices in a dry skillet over medium heat. Toast until fragrant and slightly darkened, about 5 minutes. Cool and grind to a powder. Combine remaining ingredients along with ground spices in a pot over high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until thickened (about 20 minutes).
Stir regularly to prevent sticking. The chutney is ready when you pull a spoon through it and it doesn’t flood immediately back into the space you created. Fill hot jars with hot chutney, and remove air bubbles with a chopstick or other non-metallic, long, thin utensil. Wipe rims, put lids on and process in a water bath canner for 15 minutes. Remove from canner and let cool.
Recipe for Gingerbread Jam
Makes ten 250mL jars
Use any sweet and tart apple that’s good for applesauce. 9 medium unpeeled apples (about 4 lbs pounds), diced 1 cup non-alcoholic apple cider or juice, 1/2 cup lemon juice One 3-inch piece of fresh ginger, finely chopped 2 cinnamon sticks, 1 cup molasses, 3/4 cup cane sugar (or white sugar) 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves, 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (use 1/4 teaspoon if using ground nutmeg).
Combine apples in a large pot with the apple cider, lemon juice, ginger and cinnamon sticks. Cook on medium heat until softened, about 20 minutes. Add remaining ingredients, return pot to a simmer, and taste and adjust sugar and lemon juice. Cook until mixture reaches 100°C. Use an immersion blender to blend to desired thickness, or transfer to a blender and return to pot. Keep cooking, stirring to prevent burning, until mixture reaches 104°C.
Add canning lids to hot water for 5 minutes (do not boil). Fill jars with jam, leaving ¼-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles with a chopstick or other non-metallic, long, thin utensil. Wipe rims, put lids on and process in a water bath canner for 15 minutes. Remove from canner and let cool.