October 16, 2009


With summer and its lush bounty behind us we welcome fall's straightforward flavors. The crispness and astringency of apples, pears and pomegranates seem just what our palates crave.

Wonderfully simple, this  jelly’s clean flavors seem to perfectly complement autumns richer foods. A basic apple jelly is enhanced with cider vinegar and sage giving it a hard to define subtlety.

Because of apples' high pectin content this sets up beautifully, making it the perfect jelly for beginners.

I have for the first time included some step-by-step pictures. Readers, please let me know if you like this feature and I will incorporate into more pieces.


YIELD: 4 1/2 pints


  • 3.5 lbs lady apples (you can substitute any flavorful tart variety)
  • 1 medium bunch sage
  • 12 unblemished sage leafs
  • Sugar (3/4 cup/cup of jelly stock)
  • 2/3-cup apple cider vinegar

    1. Remove the blossom end from the apple (I use a melon baller) and coarsely chop them. Do not peel or core. Place the apples in a large preserving pan with the sage and cover with 8 cups water.

    2. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer gently for 45 minutes – 1 hour, or until the fruit  is very soft. Stir once or twice but only to rotate the apples
    3. Cool slightly and pour into a moistened jelly bag or muslin set in a colander. Let drip without squeezing for 6 hours or overnight.

    4. Measure the strained juice into a clean preserving pan and add the vinegar. Bring to a boil and for every cup of apple stock add ¾ cups of sugar. Increase the heat and boil for 10- 15 minutes, skimming as needed. Cook until jelly is set. Watch carefully as the set can some on fast with apples.

    5. Place 2-3 sage leaves in each jar. Remove from heat and skim if needed. Ladle into hot sterilized jars. Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. Label and enjoy!   

    • This is a wonderful fall jelly to have on hand to serve with roast meats or poultry.
    • Use as a glaze on apple or pear tarts.
    • Apples in general and particularly crab and lady apples set up very fast so make sure you are ready to can, with your work station organized your jars and lids etc ready.

    • Try substituting other herbs such as tarragon or mint for the sage.


    1. Question- when is the jelly set? You said it can come on quick. I've never made jelly on rustic jams and I'm not sure if I would recognize when the jelly set. BTW your pictures with the text is really helpful.

    2. Hi Girl,

      There are three different tests for the gel stage which I will list below. But first let me tell you to just dive in and don't be afraid. Apple jelly is very forgiving and has lots of pectin in it so it sets up beautifully. Remember, better to undercook than to overcook, so when you are testing remove the jelly from the heat. You an always put it back on. I think the easiest method for beginners is the Freezer Test. Good luck!

      Temperature Test:

      Cook until Jelly reaches 220-222F or 8F over boiling point of water (this is relevant if you do not live at sea leavel). Make sure the thermometer does not touch the bottom of the pan.

      Sheet Test:

      Using a cold metal spoon (toss a few in the freezer when you begin cooking)scoop some jelly and holding the spoon horizontally tip the spoon so the syrup runs off of it into the pan. The jelly should "sheet" meaning it should fall from the spoon in one sheet, not multiple drops.

      Freezer Test:

      When you begin cooking put two or three saucers in the freezer.When you think your jelly is done put about 1/2 teaspoon of jelly on a cold saucer and return to the freezer for a minute or two. Remove the saucer and push the edge of the blob with your finger. If it wrinkles the jelly is done.

    3. First off, I have just started canning this year and I LOVE your blog! I just bought some apples this week from our farmer's market, and I was all set to make apple butter, when lo and behold! I saw this recipe! I'm ready to jump in, I just have one question...are the sage leaves that go into the jar new leaves, or the same ones you cooked with the apples? Thanks!

    4. Dear Caryn,

      Bravo for taking on the mysterious art of canning.
      Thank you for the kind words about my blog.

      The sage leaves are new (they are listed in the ingredients as 12 unblemished leaves). I would recommend using 3-4 leaves /jar . I found 2 leaves not as strong as I would have liked.
      Remember, you can substitute other herbs such as rosemary,mint or tarragon. Good luck!
      Let me know how it comes out.

    5. Thank you so much for your explanation on my question. I'm going to try this! It's so beautiful.

    6. I have been OBSESSED with apple jelly this fall. Love it!

    7. i'd love to try this as my first jelly. i always thought you needed pectin but i'm learning otherwise. thanks for the helpful photos!

    8. That looks amazing. I don't yet know how to can but I have bookmarked your site for future reference. Great recipes!

    9. I am using this as inspiration for my apple sage jelly. I have local apples that make a nice red juice and fresh sage in my garden. I prefer making jellies and jams without pectin when possible.

    10. This will be the first jelly I've ever attempted, having only just this week made two kinds of chutney. Question is will I have to leave this for 6 months before it's any good the way I will do with my chutney?

    11. Pleasant Valley GirlOctober 22, 2011 at 6:00 PM

      Hi. My boyfriend got me into canning a couple of years ago and now I love it.We have a huge garden (and what the grasshoppers didn't demolish this summer) I have tried to use for canning and freezing as much as possible. Wanted to try apple sage jelly and saw your recipe--looks interesting. A couple of questions: Process for 10 minutes in "hot water"--doesn't have to be boiling water? Do you know the yield (how many jars)-I see you used 4 oz jars--that your recommended size to use? Thanks a bunch. --Pleasant Valley Girl

    12. Please immerse the herb leaves you are adding to the jars in boiling water, they need to be sterilised as well,
      Thanks for the inspiration, am off to collect apples.

    13. very good, my son love it on toast for breakfast :) thank's for sharing