… ones I made about six months ago–before I started blogging all my goodies–based on the recipe provided by the National Center for Home Food Preservation for Spiced Apple Rings. Now that we’ve had a chance to finally taste them, I wanted to post this evening to say they’re really, truly AWESOME … and well worth putting up at your house, too!
Pickled Peaches (always Sunshine Brand) and Spiced Apple Rings (always Lucky Leaf brand) were a holiday staple at our house growing up. They were also–strangely–two of the things my parents always bought instead of made. I tried making my own pickled peaches last year (heavenly!) and now the spiced apples were easy and scrumptious, too … so I don’t know why they bought them when they canned so many other things. All I know is … I won’t ever buy them again myself!
Since I don’t have the manufacturer’s luxury of taking just the centers of the apples … and packing jars full of consistent-sized rings … I opted for Spiced Apple Slices instead of Spiced Apple Rings, since they’d pack more tightly in my wide-mouthed jars. I peeled my apples–but you don’t have to: that’s personal preference–cored, and then sliced them into roughly 1/2 inch slices.
From there, I followed the basic structure of the NCHFP recipe, using Splenda instead of real sugar–on a 1:1 substitution–so that they’d be No Sugar-Added. Yes, that means I didn’t have sugar’s anti-microbial action at play in my version–which could affect the long-term storage–but that’s okay! Just like I do in all of my NSA and Sugar-free pickles, I upped my vinegar content just a little bit to compensate. Splenda makes great pickles in every recipe I’ve tried so far using that one simple rule, and I’ve never had a single problem with shelf-life … even years later
I also made a couple of alterations in the spicing. That sort of thing doesn’t have an impact on your long-term storage anyway–it’s the vinegar that gives you your long-term storage in this recipe–so you can spice something like this pretty much any way you want to. The only thing I would suggest in this case is–since the pickling brine is so pretty and clear red the way it is–I wouldn’t use powdered spices in this recipe. Use whole spices you can strain out (like cinnamon sticks and whole cloves) to keep your jars jewel-like.
See how pretty they came out?
You don’t want to ruin that with muddy spices, do you?
The original recipe calls for three tablespoons of whole cloves and either 3/4 cup of hot cinnamon candies or eight cinnamon sticks. We like cinnamon a little more than we like cloves overall, so I went with one tablespoon of whole cloves and a dozen cinnamon sticks instead.
With my alterations, the NCHFP recipe looks more like this:
Lane’s NSA Spiced Apple Slices
- 12 pounds apples
- 10 cups Splenda
- 5 cups water
- 2-1/2 cup white vinegar (5%)
- 1 tablespoon whole cloves
- 12 three-inch cinnamon sticks, broken
- 1 teaspoon red food coloring
After I peeled, cored and sliced my apples, I sat them aside for the moment, soaking in an ascorbic acid bath. In a large pot, I combined the water, vinegar, whole cloves, and broken cinnamon sticks, brought it to a boil, turned the heat down to medium, and let it simmer for three minutes. Once the three minutes were up, I turned the heat off and let the pot sit on the burner for 30 minutes, just to be sure I’d steeped as much of the wonderful flavor out of the spices as I could.
I strained all the solid spices out of the syrup first, then I stirred in my Splenda, my red food coloring, and my drained apple slices. I turned the heat back up to high, brought it back up to a boil again, reduced the heat and and let it cook for about five minutes before spooning the apples and syrup into jars. NOTE: Don’t pack the slices too tight! Use all the syrup and apples in the jars, which should leave you some wiggle room around your apple slices in each jar … so that they have plenty of liquid coverage. It helps the slices absorb the syrup/pickle more quickly.
Seal jars with a new 2-part lid, and BWB process for 10 minutes. NOTE: since this is a pickle, per se … you’ll need to let these sit in your pantry for at least six months before opening the first jar, just to give those apples time to suck up alllllll that wonderful spicy syrup.
We opened the first jar the other day. My husband had never tasted spiced apples before … but, within two bites … he said “you’re not giving all of these away for holiday presents, are you?”