Whiff of Nostalgia: Spiced Apple Rings
Remember those sweet spicy apple rings that came in a jar, were almost like candy and had a highly improbable red color? I always loved those; I could go through a jar in nothing flat. And I think it’s been about 30 years, at least, since I’ve tried one.
For some reason today I decided I wanted to see if I could create a healthier and more natural version of same. (Not that I need a reason–apples are in season, that’s reason enough!) I looked on a few websites and almost without exception those cinnamon red hot candies were a chief ingredient; I decided to pass. But I futzed around and came up with something really lovely, if a little more apple-colored…
Spiced Apple Rings
- Core (but do not peel) however many apples you want to make. Slice the apples into thick rings–half to 3/4 of an inch thick. (Otherwise they fall apart.) Put into a saucepan or soup pan big enough to hold all the apples easily, with at least 3-4 inches left empty at the top.
- Measuring as you go, add water to the pan until it covers all the apples by half an inch to an inch. (Keep track of how much water you used!)
- Measure out half as much sugar as you used water; add to pan. (e.g., if you used 6 cups water, use 3 cups sugar.)
- Make a spice bag: for every cup of water you used, put in about 1 tsp. mulling spice. (Either purchased elsewhere or made yourself) If you don’t have mulling spice, try a combination of cinnamon chips and cloves. (Go easy on the cloves!) Throw it into the pot. (e.g., if you used 6 cups water, you’d have 6 tsp total spices in the bag.)
- Stir well; heat entire mixture to boil. Lower heat to a simmer and let cook till the apples are tender and the liquid has cooked down till it is more syrupy than watery. (Hard to say how long this is…I left mine about an hour, but I’m sure I could have stopped earlier.) Stir often–gently, so you don’t destroy the apples– to make sure floater slices get their turn down in the liquid.
- Turn heat off; let apples cool in the syrup for a couple of hours.
- Eat, can, or preserve by whatever method you choose. For myself I don’t anticipate them lasting long enough to need the canning process, but that’s me. Note: aside from whatever you put in the jars with the apples, leftover syrup can be saved on its own for other uses; it will be nicely spicy-sweet and would be nice on pancakes, oatmeal, ice cream, whatever.
VERDICT: Moi: Lovely, and while not exactly what I remember from childhood, these are pretty close. One would need to experiment with what kind of apple will hold up best to the process; my sliced-a-little-too-thin Braeburns sort of fell apart, but they still tasted yummy; the thicker slices did fine. Husband: grin; “I remember these!” (same nostalgia, apparently.) Son and Daughter: saucer eyes, pleadings for more and more and more.
(Why do ridiculously sweet not-good-for-you treats seem more virtuous and less bad for you when you made them yourself? Just because this has fruit at its base doesn’t make it any less a Whole Lot of Cane Sugar…) (But heck, they’re yummy!)