Culinary Adventures: Spiced Apple Rings

Making homemade spiced apple rings–an awesome relish tray addition to your family’s holiday dinner

My Grandma always added store-bought spiced apple rings to her relish tray for Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners. My Mom never bought them, they were only something we ate on Christmas Eve at Grandma’s with her Christmas pot roast. Blood red, perfectly round, spicy rings that I never got to eat anywhere else.

When I told my Grandma that I was going to try and make spiced apple rings, she told me that she’d never considered making them from scratch, despite all the canning that she does. She was curious to see how they turned out. She said that she didn’t think anyone else liked them but her, and stopped buying them eventually. She was happy that somebody else enjoyed them at her holiday dinners.

Well Grandma–you’re getting homemade spiced apple rings for Christmas this year.

I used this recipe found at Food.com. It says it makes 8 pints, but I bought a pack of 12 wide mouth pint jars and it filled them all. Also–total time 1 hour my ass. More like three.

I knew going into it that mine were not going to be perfectly round, nor blood red. I’m sure a lot of artificial red #5 dye goes into those store bought spiced apple rings. I also didn’t have an apple corer, despite searching for one at the local Fred Meyer.

**If this is your first time canning, PLEASE read all the instructions in the Ball canning guide. There is a lot that can go wrong if you don’t know what you are doing.

 

Ingredients:

  • 12 lbs firm tart apples, no more than 2 1/2-inch diameter
  • 12 cups sugar
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 1/4 cups white vinegar, 5
  • 3 tablespoons whole cloves
  • 3/4 cup red hot cinnamon candies or 8 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 teaspoon red food coloring (optional)

**Whitney’s note: Also get a squeezy bottle of lemon juice, you’ll need it to keep the apples from browning.

Directions:

  1. Wash apples. Peel and slice one apple at a time. Immediately cut crosswise into 1/2″ slices, remove core area with a melon baller and immerse in ascorbic acid solution to keep the apples from discoloring.

If you have an apple corer, this will probably go a lot smoother for you than it did for me. I cut the cores out of the apple slices by holding a knife in them and turning the slice around as I cut. If you can find an apple corer, buy it. It will be worth it.

I used Granny Smith apples, this is definitely a recipe you want to use tart apples for.

how to make spiced apple rings 466

how to make spiced apple rings

Place all the apple rings in bowls of water with lemon juice to keep them from browning. They will start to brown really fast so get them right into the lemon water immediately after cutting.

how to make spiced apple rings

2. In a 6 quart saucepan, combine sugar, water, vinegar, cloves, cinnamon candies, or cinnamon sticks and food coloring (if using).

The recipe told me to throw everything in the pot and boil. I threw in a couple cinnamon sticks along with the red hot candies for extra cinnamon flavor. I did add the optional tsp of red food coloring.

If I were to do this recipe again, I would put the cloves in a “teabag” made from cheesecloth. They were just floating loose and when I was pouring liquid into the jars it was hard to keep all the cloves out. I suppose they could add extra flavor during processing and while the spiced apple rings are jarred, but it was kind of annoying. People also aren’t so into picking hard woody things out of their apple rings at the dinner table.

3. Heat to a boil, stirring constantly until sugar dissolves then lower heat and simmer 3 minutes.

how to make spiced apple rings

4. Drain apples and add to hot syrup, and cook for 5 minutes.

how to make spiced apple rings
I wasn’t sure that cooking the apples for a whole five minutes prior to adding them to the jars was a good idea, because they kept cooking while I was canning. You don’t want mushy apple rings. Doing this recipe again, I would just steam them covered on low heat for 2 minutes, and then start the canning process.
how to make spiced apple rings

 5. Fill prepared jars with apple rings and hot flavored syrup, leaving a 1/2″ headspace.
how to make spiced apple rings
I found that the best tool for taking apple rings out of the pot and into the jars was a BBQ fork. I stacked the rings into the jars (doing my best to pick out the cloves as I went–again, cheesecloth recommended) and poured the syrup in on top. I pressed the rings down with a spoon to allow the syrup to fill all the spaces between the apples and remove the air bubbles. Do this until you have juice saturating the spiced apple rings, about 1/2 inch below the top of the jar and the air bubbles are removed.
how to make spiced apple rings
6. Check for air bubbles and add more liquid if needed to maintain the 1/2″ headspace.

7. Process pint or quart size jars in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes.

Adjust time according to your altitude. NOTE: This can also be pressure canned. Pressure Canner – Hot pack pints or quarts and process for 8 minutes at the pressure specified according to your altitude and / or style of canner.

I live close to sea level, so I did 10 minutes processing time (starting the timer when the water started boiling) and 5 minutes cooling time (taking the lid off the canner and turning off the burner) as recommended in the Ball Canning guide for their recipes. They recommend 20 minutes water bath processing for higher altitudes. I’m not sure if my processing time was 100% correct, so I would recommend consulting Ball instead of trusting me.

how to make spiced apple rings

All of the jars sealed, but there were a couple that had such large rings in them that the syrup didn’t cover all of the apples. I put those in the fridge to eat soon, just in case something went wrong. I tasted the couple that didn’t fit into the jars, and they tasted great. I’m looking forward to having homemade spiced apple rings at Thanksgiving dinner this year.

how to make spiced apple rings

 

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