If you’re a fan of traditional pickles, maybe it’s time to branch out (pun intended) to pickled fruit. Not only are pickled apples fast to make and delicious, they add a bright burst of colour to any meal. I love this recipe because you can make just one jar or several and once the brine has worked its magic for a day or two, the apples are ready to be enjoyed. My kids love putting them in grilled cheese sandwiches while I enjoy scattering them over salads or munching with a handful of nuts for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up. Use whatever apple you like; my favourites are sweet, rosy-hued Galas but any red apple will do just fine. Like this delicious zucchini relish, and no-cook pear chutney, pickled apples also make a fantastic hostess or holiday gift that shows you care enough to offer a handmade present.
Wash and dry three 16 ounce (500 mL) canning jars and lids. Set aside.
In small non-reactive pot, stir together vinegar, water sugar and salt. Add cinnamon sticks and star anise. Warm over medium heat until sugar and salt dissolve, stirring occasionally. Once sugar and salt have dissolved, remove and reserve the cinnamon sticks and star anise and transfer the mixture to a pitcher or measuring cup and put in the refrigerator to cool.
While brine is cooling, slice shallots and jalapeño as thinly as possible. The easiest way to slice a hot pepper is to take the sides off and then slice them. This leaves the core and seeds intact, making them easier to discard. Once sliced, set aside.
Wash celery stalk and slice thinly on the diagonal.
Wash apples but do not peel. Core and slice thinly. The easiest way to do this is to cut the apple off the core in four pieces which can then be sliced easily.
Fill the canning jars in layers. Start with the cinnamon and star anise, then add a little bit of the shallot and jalapeno, followed by celery and apples. Try to divide the mixture as evenly as possible among the three jars. When the jars are half full, tuck the rosemary sprig down one side (it looks pretty to have it visible). Keep adding shallots, jalapenos, apples and celery until all three jars are packed as tightly as possible. Depending upon the size of your apples, all the slices may not fit. Snack time!
Once the jars are packed, carefully pour the cooled brine (it should be lukewarm) into the jars. If you don’t have quite enough brine to fill them completely, just mix two parts cider vinegar to one part water (i.e., 2 tbsp vinegar + 1 tbsp water) to top up the jars.
Because these pickles are not being processed in a hot water bath, they must be stored in the refrigerator. Let stand for at least a day before eating. They are best consumed within a month of making.
Makes three 16 ounce (500 mL) jars.