Have you ever had one of those lovely “happy accidents” in the kitchen? They happen when you try something new and it actually works. For me they happen once in a hundred times, so they must be documented when they don’t suck. My latest glorious happy accident: Caramel Apple Syrup. Delicious! This post contains affiliate links, meaning if you purchase something through the links I will make a small percentage at no cost to you.
We practice organic gardening, even with our fruit trees, so they are never sprayed. I put up with imperfect apples, and some insects here and there. For this reason I usually cook with them rather than we eat them fresh.
I had an abundance of apples from my apple tree this year. After two years of small harvests, we did some pruning and we had a glorious long and wet spring. The combination gave me more than a bushel of tart/sweet apples in July. Needless to say, much cooking and preserving ensued.
Ideas for Preserving Apples
After canning apple sauce, apple butter, apple slices, and freezing apple chunks, I made enough apple scrap vinegar to last the year. I also dried some apple slices for snacks. There is something lovely about apple desserts in the fall and winter months!
I still had three gallon-sized bags of apple scraps in the freezer. I made six pints of apple scrap jelly after watching a YouTube video by Jessica, from Three Rivers Homestead: Six Ways to Preserve Apples. It was yummy! And so easy. I love that you can use up scraps that most people would throw away.
After the last of the apples were picked, I decided to make another small batch of apple scrap jelly. I saw a bag of gourmet caramel candies that had come in a gift basket to my husband. I thought, hmmm…caramel apple jelly. After searching online for recipes, I couldn’t find anything, so I just decided to wing it. I unwrapped the candies and threw them into the boiling juice one by one. It amounted to about 8 ounces of candy.
The Happy Accident: Caramel Apple Syrup
After processing in a water bath canner I discovered that the candies kept the jelly from setting. Surprise to me. It didn’t occur to me that the candy was made of milk and that might disrupt the gelling process. After processing five pints, I saw the next day that it did not set. At first I was disappointed, but then I realized that I really did have enough jelly for gifts and for ourselves. Hmmm…if only it was a bit thicker it would be like syrup...
So I opened them up and boiled them again, this time adding a corn starch slurry until it was thick enough to call syrup. Oh heavens! It is delicious! Caramel Apple Syrup for the win!
I processed it in two quart jars this time for gifts, and I know a pint of caramel apple syrup will not be enough once opened. I keep one pint in the refrigerator for me. (hubby doesn’t eat sweets. I know, more for me!) It has a flavor that is perfect for fall’s favorite foods. I drizzle it over oatmeal or pancakes, add it to my tea or coffee, and of course, I dip anything I can into it. It elevates vanilla ice cream to something I think the finest dessert chef would appreciate.
Apple Scrap Syrup Recipe
Making the Apple Juice
- Place all the apple scraps, skins and all into a pot and cover with water, just until they are covered. You don’t want to overfill the pot with water because it will just weaken the flavor of the jelly.
- Add a pinch of salt.
- Add spices to your liking. I just added a tablespoon of cinnamon, but you can add any of the fall pumpkin-pie-type spices that you like.
- Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat, cover and keep it on a slow boil for 20 – 30 minutes, until it is soft. Don’t overcook, it reduces the flavor and the strength of the natural pectin.
- Strain the liquid. I use a strainer lined with cheesecloth, but a jelly bag is ideal. Let it drip without mashing it for a couple of hours. Mashing will get more juice out of it, but it will make it cloudy.
Making the Caramel Apple Syrup
- Combine the juice and sugar in the saucepan. At this point I added the caramels. The ratio for jelly is 5 cups juice to 7 cups sugar. I cut my sugar in half because of the added caramels. This ratio is up to your own personal taste, in my opinion.
- Bring to a medium boil, stirring constantly.
- Make a corn starch slurry, 1 part corn starch to 1 part warm water. How much you need depends on how much apple syrup you have and how thick you like it.
- Add the corn starch slurry, one tablespoon at a time, stirring for 5 minutes between slurry additions.
- When you reach the desired thickness, take it off the stove. This is the subjective part; it’s up to you how thick you want your caramel apple syrup. I let it rest while I’m getting my canning jars and lids ready.
- Process in a water bath canner as per the instructions in the Ball Canning book.
I don’t think I have to tell a gardener that there is something so satisfying about creating something delicious in the kitchen with the produce from your own garden. Even if it doesn’t turn out as you expected it to, chances are good that you can still do something with it. You can still be proud that it is the fruit of your labor. Here’s to trying new things and to happy accidents!