Crab Apple Jelly
A treat I loved as a child, was having some of my Nana’s home-made crab apple jelly on toast (or on crumpets – even better!). My Nana (Mum’s Mum) has a fabulous old crab apple tree. It is huge. This year I picked some crab apples (Nana doesn’t make jelly anymore) and last weekend I made crab apple jelly for the first time in about 15 years. It worked, so I thought I would share the recipe. OK many people may not have access to a crab apple tree, but I still think it is a recipe worth sharing!
Firstly though, some clarification about what this recipe is for. The word ‘jelly’ in this context is for jam without the fruit (not jelly, like you have with ice cream). You boil the fruit up for ages, then strain it all out and make the ‘jam’ from the ‘infused’ liquid. Being so small, crab apples are a pain to use for most other things. In this recipe you don’t have to cut them up or anything, which is great! Another great thing about crab apples is they have heaps of pectin, so you shouldn’t need a setting product, like Jamsetta.
It doesn’t matter how many crab apples you start with, the recipe is adaptable. In this instance I picked 600g of crab apples. This quantity made about 2 litres of jelly.
- Fresh crab apples
Place in a saucepan, and cover with water. Boil for a while – about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Add extra water if required to keep the fruit covered. Stir occasionally. You don’t need to cut the fruit, but you can squish it if you want as the fruit softens to help get all the crab apple goodness into the water.
Strain the crab apples through a clean cloth. I found it easiest to initially strain the fruit through a sieve, and then strain the resulting liquid through the cloth. The result is a lovely red liquid (above).
Add the liquid to a clean saucepan and put on a medium to high heat. For each cup of liquid, add a cup of sugar. Mix until the sugar dissolves and then boil (once it reaches boiling point, you may need to turn the heat down a little so it doesn’t boil over or burn). Boiling time varies depending on the quantity of the liquid, so after about 20-30 minutes of boiling it is worth checking it regularly (by placing some mixture into a bowl of cold water to see if it sets, or place it in the fridge etc). It took my mixture about 40 minutes of boiling. You may get some white scum on the top (above), you can scoop this out. It doesn’t detract from the taste, but removing it improves the aesthetics. I also stir the liquid occasionally. Not sure if you are meant to, but I find it makes sure nothing sticks to the bottom and burns.
As it gets closer to being ready, the mixture will bubble in a very gooey kind of way (sorry, but that’s the best way I can describe it).
Once finished, fill cleaned, sterilised bottles with the hot mixture and put the lids on. A funnel (like the ones from hardware stores) can help make this a cleaner job than just using a ladle. Label with the date made. The jelly can last a while, but I doubt it will!