Some of my very favorite things to can at home are jams, jellies, and preserves. They’re so delectable and so versatile I’m always looking for ways to use them in recipes and as toppings, and I’ll admit to eating way too much straight out of the jar on more than one occasion! And the best part is that it helps me minimize waste by keeping fruit fresh and edible that would normally spoil quickly, even in my root cellar.
But I will admit, the last batch of apple-pear jelly I made I just wanted more. It was delicious, sure, and very sweet but the sweetness came mostly from sugar. I wanted more fruit flavor!
Then it occurred to me I could make it even better by adding in some juice, juice made from the peels which would otherwise go in the garbage can.
What an idea! I could cut down on even more waste and, I hope, enjoy an even better jelly. I’m happy to report that the results turned out better than I could have dreamed! If you’re willing to spend just a few extra minutes preparing and cooking your fruit, I promise this will be the jelly recipe that knocks your socks off.
Tools and Supplies
You won’t need much to make this recipe yourself at home. Assuming you’ve got a good water bath canning set up already and a reasonably equipped kitchen, you’ll be all set.
Apples: you’ll need apples if you want to enjoy this delightful apple pear jelly. Pick any kind you want, you’ll need about 1 pounds.
Pears: likewise, you’ve got to have pears. Firmer varieties work better for this recipe but any that are reasonably ripe and ready to eat out of hand are just fine. You’ll need 2 pounds. Together with the apples, 3 pounds of fruit makes about four pints of jelly.
Water: you’ll need water for operating the canner itself and for boiling the peels to make the juice.
Lemon Juice: lemon juice will give the jelly a wonderful tang and also prevent discoloration. You don’t need much, about a third of a cup for every 3 pounds of fruit.
Sugar: you’ll never have a good jelly without sugar, and like pretty much all jelly recipes we need lots of it. Count on about 6 ½ cups, maybe a little more if you like yours extra sweet.
Cinnamon: cinnamon is the perfect spice for this recipe, but you don’t need much. A quarter-teaspoon is all it takes.
Pectin, Liquid: I know some folks are convinced that it’s possible to get a good, thick jelly without using pectin, but I’ve never been impressed with the results. Don’t try to innovate here: use any liquid pectin that is suitable for canning and making jelly or jam.
Water Bath Canner: any water bath canning setup that you are familiar with will work for this recipe. If you don’t have one, a large, flat-bottomed stock pot that will hold the canning rack, below, can be used.
Large Pot: since we have to boil skins and fruit pieces for this recipe, you’ll need a large pot to hold everything and leave enough room to stir it vigorously the entire time.
Mixing Bowl, Large: a mixing bowl will come in handy for holding your pieces of fruit and straining off liquid when the time comes.
Jars, Pint or Half-Pint: any canning jars that you prefer to use will work here as long as they are in good shape. Don’t even think about using any that are cracked, deformed, dinged or dented. Note the only one to use pint or half pint sizes, not quarts. Jelly is too thick to be properly and safely water bath can in these larger containers. Stick with smaller sizes and you’ll be fine.
Lids: assuming your jars use disposable lids make sure you have brand new ones for this task. Trying to reuse lids is a leading cause of seal failure, so don’t even take the chance! They are cheap, so just get new ones. You’ll need one for each jar that you plan on making, but have a couple of extra in case the first round fails.
Bands: you can use new or used bands for this recipe. Unlike the lids themselves, bands are reusable as long as they are in good shape and free of rust, cracks or deformation.
Canning Rack: it canning rack is exactly what it says, a specialized rack that holds your jars in place and keeps them from banging into each other while they rest on the bottom of the counter during processing. If you bought a water bath canning kit, it should come with one. Not, just make sure that the rack you have fits into the canner.
Jar Tongs: also known as jar lifters. These oversized tongs will help you move red hot jars safely and without dropping them. They are mandatory for doing a good job efficiently while canning, don’t skip them!
Jar Funnel: a jar funnel is a specialized funnel that will help you get your fruit and liquid into the jars without making a terrible mess. It’s not just a convenience thing; getting drips on the rim or threads can cause your lid to fail, ruining or wasting the contents!
Mixing Spoon: a spoon is needed for stirring your peels and the fruit during cooking, and is also helpful for filling the jars.
Sieve / Fine Strainer: you’ll need a sieve or strainer to separate the cooked peels from the juice you make immediately prior to adding your fruit pieces to the mix.
Paring Knife: a paring knife should be the only cutting implement needed to peel and process your apples and pears. You can use a larger kitchen or chef’s knife if that’s what you prefer.
Fruit Peeler (optional): if you want to save even more time, you can use a fruit peeler to make the job even easier, but note that it won’t necessarily make your juice any better because leaving a little bit of flesh clinging to the skin during cooking will make for tastier juice and accordingly tastier jelly!
Cutting Board: any cutting boards you like is fine for prepping the fruit as long as it is clean. Have a spare one nearby for placing red hot jars to save your countertops, and also for cooling finished jars on once you are done.
Paper Towels: paper towels invariably come in handy for cleaning up messes that always occur during canning adventures, and also for wiping off the rims of your jars immediately prior to filling.
Kitchen Timer: timing is essential when you are canning, and that certainly counts for canning jelly. Use a standalone kitchen timer, you’re stove top timer, your phone or anything else as long as it is accurate and you are sure that you’ll hear it.
And that is everything that you’ll need. Once you’ve gathered your supplies, you’re halfway there! Now it’s time to move on to actually making our apple-pear jelly.
Hot Pack Canning Apple-Pear Jelly Step by Step
Review all of these steps prior to beginning: several of them are time-sensitive and must be done quickly and at essentially the same time. You’ll need to know what to expect so you can move briskly!
Step 1: Clean and sanitize jars and tools. The first and most important step. Everything that is going to come into contact with your fruit at any phase of preparation must be absolutely clean. Wash everything with hot soapy water and give it a hot water rinse or run it through the dishwasher immediately prior to using.
Step 2: Peel fruit. Peel your fruit using your vegetable peeler or your knife. Set the peels aside for a moment but do not discard! We’re going to need them to make our juice in just a minute.
Step 3: Core, seed and dice fruit. Split each pair and apple, removing the core and the seeds. Throw them away. Then dice both the pairs and the apples into tiny pieces.
Step 4: Prepare your workspace. With the fruit prepared, take a moment to get your workspace in order. Make sure you got plenty of room on the stovetop for your canner and the pot you’ll use to prepare the juice and the jelly itself. Make sure you have towels or clean cutting boards handy so that you can protect your countertops from hot jars. Make sure all the tools and ingredients you need are nearby and ready to go.
Step 5: Place peels in pot with water. Place the apple and pear peels in your pot, not your canner, and spread them out so they cover the bottom. Once you put them into the large pot fill it with water about two-thirds of the way up the peels.
Step 6: Fill canner with water, boil. Fill your canner with water, making sure to account for displacement. When the rack loaded with jars is in place, the water should be at least one inch over the top of all of the jars. At the same time, make sure it won’t overflow. Double-check and adjust your water level if necessary, then turn on the heat under the counter and bring it to a boil.
Step 7: Preheat jars in canner. Load all of your open jars onto the canning rack and then load it into the canner to start preheating the jars. If you don’t have a removable rack, place the jars individually using your tongs.
Step 8: Simmer peels until very soft, strain. Now turn the heat on on your peels and bring the liquid to a simmer. Simmer them over low-med heat until everything turns all mushy. After straining the mix through the sieve, you’ll be left with a few cups of juice.
Step 9: Add fruit pieces to juice with cinnamon, stir. With only the juice remaining in the pot, add your fruit pieces and a quarter tablespoon of cinnamon. Give everything a stir.
Step 10: Add sugar and lemon juice, bring to boil. Once the cinnamon is incorporated, add all of the sugar, about six and a half cups plus or minus depending on your taste along with a third of a cup of lemon juice. Bring everything to a rolling boil while stirring it constantly.
Step 11: Immediately add pectin, hold at boil for 1 minute while stirring constantly. Once the fruit, sugar and lemon juice is at a full boil add 6 oz of your liquid pectin. Stir quickly, and keep everything at a hard boil for 1 minute. Timing is important here, watch the clock while you complete the next step.
Step 12: Remove jars from canner. Remove your jars from the canner by lifting out the rack, if applicable, or using your jar tongs, emptying the water back into the canner. Set them on a cutting board to protect your countertop.
Step 13: Skim foam, pour fruit mix into jars. Once your fruit mixture has been at a hard boil for 1 minute exactly, remove it from the heat and skim off the foam that has formed using your spoon. Then using your jar funnel and spoon together, add the jelly mixture into each of the jars, leaving a quarter inch of head space in each.
Step 14: Attach lids and bands quickly. Working quickly, take a damp paper towel and wipe off the rim of each jar. Then, taking care not to touch the sealant, place a lid on each jar. Secure each lid with a band by screwing it down hand tight. Do not over-tighten the bands!
Step 15: Load jars into canner, bring to boil. Once all of the jars have been capped, load them back into the counter using the rack or the jar tongs as before being careful to avoid the boiling water. Make sure that each jar stays perfectly upright and level; if the jelly is allowed to slosh against the lid it can compromise the seal.
Once the jars are all loaded back into the canner, wait for the water to come back to a boil.
Step 16: Process jars. Once the water is at a boil, start your timer for processing the jars. Using either half-pint or pint-size jars, process for 5 minutes if you are under 1,000 feet elevation; 10 minutes if you are between 1,001 and 6,000 feet of elevation; or 15 minutes if you are above 6,000 feet in elevation.
Step 17: Turn off heat under canner. Once your timer goes off turn off the heat under the canner.
Step 18: Let jars rest for 5 minutes. Don’t remove your jars just yet. Let them sit in the canner for at least 5 minutes before touching them.
Step 19: Remove jars carefully. Removing the rack or using your tongs as before, cautiously lift the jars to get them out of the counter making certain not to tilt them as before to avoid seal failure. Place them on the counter on folded towels or on a clean, dry cutting board to protect your surface.
Step 20: Allow jars to cool completely away from drafts. It is critical that you leave the jars completely undisturbed for a cool down. But they must also be protected from drafts coming from windows or doors. Temperature shock can cause sudden shattering! Likewise, do not place them on a metal or stone surface for the same reason.
Your jars will need to cool down for at least 12 hours and possibly as long as 18 to 24 hours for full pints.
Step 21: Check for seal. What’s your jars of jelly have completely cooled down, we need to inspect the lids to make sure they sealed properly. The first step is to press on the lids with a fingertip. They should not move, flex or pop in any way.
If all of the jars have passed that test, then you should remove the band carefully and gently lift the jar up using just the edges of the lid. Again, they should not pop, move, hiss, bubble or anything like that.
If any of the jars fail, eat contents within three days or reprocess in new jar and lid immediately.
Step 22: Wipe off jars. Take a damp paper towel and thoroughly wiped down each of your jars to remove the sticky residue and oils from handling.
Step 23: Store jars. Place your newly minted jars of pear jam jelly in a cool, dry, dark place. Make sure this location is protected from extreme shifts in temperature.
Step 24: Finished! You are all done! Prepare to enjoy the best jelly you will ever try. Your jelly should keep for at least a year if stored properly as detailed above.
There was enough extra jelly in the pot that I could put some into a jar to refrigerate right away. I tried it again this morning, and it’s oh so good!!
The consistency is funny compared to the canned jelly, though: It’s actually exactly like honey, very sticky and somewhat runny. It’s really good though, and super sweet like honey, too. It’ll go great on breakfast biscuits.
Oooh, I bet mixing it with butter like honey butter would be divine! I’ll have to try that. Anyways, I’m happy with the results!
A city girl learning to homestead on an acre of land in the country. Wife and homeschooling mother of four. Enjoying life, and everything that has to do with self sufficient living.