Apple Preserves with Calvados and Cardamom
I visited my friend Talea at Montgomery Place Farms in Annandale-on-Hudson, NY in Northern Dutchess County this weekend. Talea was my first jam teacher (besides my mother) when I was an innocent 21 year old. She grows mostly organic, heirloom fruit and sells her bounty at the Montgomery Place Farm Stand at the intersection of 9G and Route 199 near Redhook, NY. She also sells her jam and honey there, which might be as good as ours if not better. If you visit, give her a hug from the Anarchy girls.
Talea sold me some amazing heirloom Pink Pearl apples--tart, sweet and buttery with a marbled pink flesh. Maybe it's because they're pink, but they taste sweeter and zippier than their white-fleshed relatives. I instantly began to imagine the jam I would make with these beauties.
These apples were so special I had to preserve them with equally amazing companions. Calvados (apple brandy) and cardamom that I collected in the Cardamom Hills of southeast Kerala, India--where the air smells of pepper, tea and cardamom--balance beautifully with the apples. Tart, sweet and spicy! My father used to splash (and drink, of course) Calvados on pork and baked apples in the depths of winter, and the taste recalls the warmth of cooking with my family. Look for these preserves on Anarchy's autumn menu!
2 1/4 pounds Pink Pearl apples (other tart varieties will work too), peeled, cored and cut into chunks
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon cardamom pods (wrapped in cheesecloth)
1 1/2 cups Calvados* (apple brandy)
In a preserving pan, combine the apples, sugar, and lemon juice. Bring to a simmer, and then pour into a bowl (ceramic is best). Cover the fruit with a sheet of parchment paper and refrigerate overnight.
Next day, separate apples from their juice. Add Calvados and cardamom to apple liquid and bring this preparation to a boil in a preserving pan, stirring gently. Skim. Continue cooking on high heat 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
Place a candy thermometer in the jam. It will be ready when it reaches the setting point 105°C\220°F.
Add apples and return to a boil. Check the set or that the temp is back to 105°C\220°F. Do not let jam scorch. Remove cardamom pods.
Finish by filling the jars to within a 1/4 in of top with the preserves and seal (for jar preparation, see this detailed recipe). Boil for 10 minutes in a water bath. Let rest 5 minutes, then remove.
Makes about 4 8oz jars.
*Go totally local and use New York made apply brandy! Warwick Valley Winery & Distillery in Warwick, NY makes a great one.
Thanks to the Veggie Voice blog for the great image. My pink pearl pics were shabby compared to yours.