I woke up one day recently and realized that I had turned into my mother. Staring at a 50lb box of apples, scratching my head as to what to do with them. I clearly remember our kitchen as a child being covered with boxes of fruits at the end of the season, and seeing my mother chop, peel and preserve her way through the tens of pounds of apples, tomatoes, cherries, figs, etc. I always wondered why she was doing that, and now here I am. I have no idea how this happened.
A cake, a tart, and a few liters of juice later, I found myself in the midst of a jam making session (Do you hear the laughter? Yes, that’s my mom!). I remember these things taking forever to make, but that was because of the sheer quantity involved. This jam session was not bad at all, apart from the maceration time during which I slept like a baby, it’s all done in less than an hour. Macerating the apples helps draw out the juices and speed up the process. I added the mastic because I love the flavor and the walnuts because I need crunch, and it’s also a traditional way of making apple jam. I used a variety of apples including Cameo, Honey Crisp, Golden Delicious, Rome, Jonagold, and Granny Smith. The different types each contribute to the taste and texture to ultimately yield a jam that keeps you interested. You can use any varieties you like, include sweet, tart, crunchy and soft.
Apple Jam with Walnuts and Mastic
12-14 apples, washed, peeled and sliced
2 cups water
1 1/4 cups unrefined sugar
Juice of one lemon
1 cup walnut pieces, raw
1/4 tsp mastic, ground (optional, substitute with 1 tbsp orange blossom water)
1/2 tsp sea salt
Bring sugar and water to a boil until sugar is melted, take off heat and let cool.
Wash and peel the apples. Cut apples around core and slice into 1/8 in slices. Toss in lemon juice, and place in sugar water. Make sure to submerge all apples. Let macerate overnight. The next day, place the apples and liquid in a heavy bottom pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, stirring occasionally to avoid sticking, at this point you can add the salt. Once all the juice is evaporated, stay close and stir more frequently to avoid scorching. Once all the juice is gone (you can tell when there are no more bubbles forming) and the jam holds a line once you pass a wooden spoon through it, turn off heat. Add mastic powder and stir to blend in, then add walnut pieces if using. Let cool then spoon in jars and seal.