Accidentally Cooking

Documenting my mistakes in the garden, kitchen and pantry


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Caramel Apple Wine

I’ve been making a bunch of fruit wines this year, but most of those are just ways for me to kill time. What I’m really excited about making is hard apple cider and apple wine, and I have a few jugs available to make several batches. I have a gallon batch of apple wine going right now, and am planning another gallon batch of hard cider soon. Whats left are my two half-gallon jugs, which are the perfect size for things which are a little bit more experimental. For the first one I decided to create a batch of Caramel Apple Wine. This recipe is for a half-gallon batch. Scaling it up should be pretty straight-forward to a point. Too much sugar in the pot will be hard to caramelize. You might need to work in batches.

The regular subscriber (and I suspect there is only one) will notice that this recipe has been heavily influenced by the Caramel Apple Jam recipe I posted a while back, and which has been a household favorite since I first made it.

Caramel Apple Wine

  • Apple Cider
  • White Sugar
  • 1/2 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • Yeast: Cotes des Blancs
  • Starting Gravity: 1.104
  • Yeast Nutrient

Add 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water to a high-walled stockpot. Cook over medium heat, stirring only if necessary, until the sugar turns a deep brown. Add in 4 cups of apple cider and stir until all the caramelized sugar is dissolved. I didn’t let the cider come to a boil, but I don’t think it will hurt too much if you do.

Add the caramel cider and another 4 cups of cider (8 cups total) to a mixing bucket. Add enough sugar to bring the gravity up to 1.100 (for me, it was another cup). Add in vanilla extract to taste (my home-made extract is less strong than most store-bought varieties, so you may want to start smaller. A subtle vanilla flavor to compliment the caramel is all I wanted).  Funnel the must into a sterilized half-gallon jug. If there is any left over, save it for topping off after the trip to secondary.

I added 1/2 Tsp of the yeast nutrient up front. I have been using a staggered feeding schedule for some of my other brews, but for this one I added all the nutrient up front.

Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature before pitching the yeast.

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 First Test

I stole my customary taste-test during the rack to secondary. The wine definitely tastes of caramel apple, though the caramel flavor is not as strong as I expected. I’ll probably do a lot of second-guessing about both the amount of caramelized sugar I used and also the amount it was caramelized. Did I let it get dark enough, or did I panic and take it off the heat too soon? Did I just not make enough?

In a few months when it’s good and ready I’ll taste it again with a definite eye towards making sure the caramel flavor is properly balanced. Maybe it will pop out more when the mixture mellows out after aging.


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Caramel Apple Jam

In two previous posts I’ve mentioned Caramel Apple Jam but never posted the recipe myself. I borrowed this recipe from another blog, and made a few minor adaptations for my own needs [1]. This year I’ve made two batches of it, because it was so popular.

Caramel Apple Jam

  • 5.5 Cups prepared Apple Sauce
  • 3.5 Cups Sugar
  • 0.5 Cups water
  • 1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
  • Vanilla Extract (to taste)

Prepare the apple sauce ahead of time. Basically follow the recipe for apple butter, but stop cooking it before it turns brown and gets thick.

In a large stock pot, add the water and the lemon juice. Pour in 2 cups of sugar, slowly and evenly. DO NOT STIR. You’re making a “wet caramel”. In the wet method, caramel and water are cooked together. As the water evaporates, the boiling point of the mixture increases. Eventually, the sugar starts to caramelize, without much fear of burning.

Bring the sugar/water mixture to a boil over medium or medium-low heat. Boil it, without stirring, until the mixture starts to turn to a caramel-brown color.

When you’re ready, add the apple sauce. WARNING: There will be some spluttering. The sugar/water mixture is boiling at a higher temperature than plain water. Adding the apple sauce will change that ratio, decrease the boiling point again, and things will get a little violent. Keep your face away from the opening while you stir to mix.

Add the remaining sugar and the vanilla extract. I used my own homemade vanilla, about 2 Tbsp of it.

Bring the mixture to a boil and cook, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes or until the mixture is thicker. Since it’s hot, it will thicken up even more when it’s cool, so don’t go crazy.

To preserve this jam, put it into prepared half-pint jars and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

Results

I made this jam last year, and it was very well received. In fact, it was one of the most requested repeat recipes I’ve ever had. A jam with caramel AND apples? It’s a no-brainer.

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Last year I commented that the jam was a little too sweet. I was planning to decrease the amount of sugar, but then I remembered that this is a pectin-free recipe and I couldn’t decrease the sugar without changing the consistency. So I didn’t change a thing.

I had thought about adding a bit of sea salt to the mix, but my wife isn’t a fan of the whole “salted caramel” craze so I didn’t do that either. Next time, maybe.

I made two batches this year. The first batch went perfectly but the second batch had some issues with the caramel. For some reason the sugar wasn’t caramelizing as well as it had previously, with sugar crystals floating around on the top of the bubbling mixture. I had to stir it in, which I haven’t had to do before. When I added the apple sauce the caramel hardened into a large clump. Luckily, during the boiling period, the caramel clump dissolved and the final product turned out the same as always.

All three batches I’ve made of this jam have produced almost exactly 7 half-pint jars of jam, sometimes with almost enough left over for a small quarter-pint jar.

Notes

  1. Her recipe calls for using a vanilla bean, mixed in with the sugar to make vanilla sugar instead of vanilla extract. She also calls for some rum to be added at the end to finish it. I didn’t have rum or vanilla beans, so I used some of my homemade vanilla extract (which is vodka-based) instead. Otherwise, I kept the recipe almost identical because I wanted to get the right consistency.