Last weekend my grandmother gave me a bag practically overflowing with crab apples that she grew in her garden. They are such unique little apples, waxy rose blush skins and the shape of an oversized rosehip. You can’t eat them raw, they must be cooked to taste nice. Whenever anyone mentions crab apples and first thing that springs to mind is crab apple jelly.
I had never made my own crab apple jelly before, but it was actually quite straightforward, if not a little time consuming. Well, not time consuming as in there is lots to do, but there are long periods of time where you have to leave the apples to their own devises. I loved watching the crab apple jelly develop through its different stages, it was quite amazing. You start with a dull brown mushy sludge of pith, skin and cores, not the most appetizing, but when this mixture is put into a jelly bag and the juices allowed to drip through, they come out a pretty pearly red colour and are beautifully crystal clear. It is truly amazing.
As the apples boil up, they release the most fantastic apple aroma, accompanied by another sweet fragrant smell that I couldn’t quite put my finger on, similar to elderflower. The resulting jelly shared this same intense apple, sweet fragranced flavour and aroma. Delicious with both sweet and savoury foods.
Crab Apple Jelly
3.5kg crab apples (skin and core still on)
4 pints water
450g granulated sugar per pint of juice
10-12 jam jars
Wash the apples and cut them in half. Put the apples in a large saucepan along with the water (just enough to cover). Bring the water to the boil then reduce to a simmer.
Loosely cover with the lid and leave to simmer for 1hour 30 minutes. The apples should completely break down and turn to mush.
Remove from the heat and spoon the mixture into a jelly bag suspended over a large bowl or saucepan. (You can use a piece of muslin tied to an upturned chair if you don’t have a jelly bag).
Leave for an hour to allow all the clear juices from the apple mush to drip down. After an hour give it a gently squeeze to get any excess juice, but do not press to hard as you want the juice to remain clear and pulp free.
Wash and dry the jam jars. Place in a cold oven, with the lids alongside and turn the oven on to 120C. Allow to come to temperature and heat for at least 15 minutes or until the jam is ready to be bottled.
Meanwhile, use a jug to measure how many pints of juice you have collected and place it into a large saucepan. Add 450g sugar for every pint of juice you have.
Heat the liquid and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Then bring to the boil and allow to bubble for 15-20 minutes.
Test for setting by placing a small spoonful of the jam onto a saucer and placing in the fridge for 3 minutes. Once cool, run your finger through the jam and if it ripples and leaves a clear path, then it is ready. If not, then allow to boil for a further 5 minutes before testing again.Once ready, remove the jam from the heat and the jars from the oven. Carefully ladle the hot jam into the hot jars and screw on the lids tightly. Wear rubber gloves to protect your hands from the heat and to give you a good grip.Allow to cool at room temperature before storing in a cool dark place until required. The seal button in the lids will suddenly pop back down as the jam cools, as a sterile vacuum is created within the jar. They will give a loud ‘pop’ when this happens, so don’t be alarmed.Once open, store in the fridge.
Makes 10 – 12 jars