This unique French Apple Jam is easy to make, has a gorgeous golden color, a fresh apple flavor, a chunky texture, and a surprise hint of spice from the cardamom.
This fabulous jam is worlds away from apple pie filling. It’s so delicious and versatile that I’m surprised you don’t see it more often. This is a small batch, with just a handful of apples, and the quick process won’t overwhelm your kitchen or take all afternoon. I got two big pints of it, and we’ve been spreading it on toast all week. If you want a real treat, get yourselves some warm croissants to go with it. I’m already dreaming up ways to bake it into something fabulous…
There are so many apples available right now, and you can really use any variety you like. I mixed Granny Smith and Honeycrisp. If you have local apples, all the better. But be aware that other varieties may behave differently when cooked. Mine retained their shape and color well, and they’re pretty commonly available in stores. All apples have a lot of natural pectin, which helps to thicken the jam as it cooks. I used a little powdered pectin as insurance, but you can leave that out if you don’t have any, you may just have to boil the jam a little longer. Be sure not to skip the lemon juice, though, because that helps prevent the apples from turning brown.
Rather than go with the obvious choice of cinnamon to spice up this jam, I used cardamom pods, lightly crushed to release their little black seeds. The result is subtle and keeps the flavor from reading as ‘apple pie’. If you want to use a mix of fall spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and clove, that would be nice, too, just don’t overdo it.
The French have a more easygoing attitude toward jam making than Americans do. They don’t fuss with canning baths and tongs, and they don’t worry as much about the dangers of spoilage. They have learned a simple process from centuries of jam making. This particular recipe makes a small batch, meant to be consumed within a month or so, but if you wanted to make more, you can follow the French method that I outline in this post.
- about 6 apples (I mixed Granny Smith and Honeycrisp)
- 2 1/2 cups sugar
- 5 cardamom pods, crushed (use a rolling pin or heavy spoon to gently crack open the pods)
- juice of 2 lemons, divided
- 2 Tbsp pectin powder
- Fill a large bowl with cold water and add the juice of 1 lemon.
- Peel, core, and quarter the apples and add them to the lemon water as you work.
- Remove the apples from the water (discard the water) and finely dice them.
- Add the apples to a heavy bottomed pot, along with the sugar, cardamom pods, (and any seeds that have escaped) the pectin and the juice of the other lemon. Stir well, and then bring to a boil.
- Boil, uncovered and stirring often, for about 30-40 minutes until thickened. About halfway through the cooking I used my stick blender to blend the jam just a bit, but I left lots of apple chunks intact. This is optional and depends on what texture you want your jam to have, and how large or small you chopped your apples in the first place. If you do this, be extra careful not to splatter yourself, the jam is very hot.
- Ladle the finished jam into clean (sterilized) jars, cover tightly, and let cool before refrigerating. See note below for preserving options.
- To can using the traditional method, ladle the jam into sterilized jars and process using the hot water bath method for 10 minutes. You can also freeze the jam, just make sure to leave a little room at the top of each jar for expansion in the freezer.
- You can fish out the cardamom pods after making the jam, but I like to leave them in.