Crabapples are the cutest little fruit, looking just like a miniture apple. They ripen just before their relatives the apple. They’re tart when eaten fresh but the flavour can be mellowed by stewing them. Once stewed they can be run through a food mill to remove the seeds and used like apple puree. They’re high in pectin and a pectin stock can be made with them to use throughout the year for other jams and jellies. They would be good to mix with blackberries which are in season at the moment but low in pectin. Like regular apples these come in all sorts of colours and flavours and the green ones are the most tart. I foraged these from a tree at the local youth centre. They were just dropping on the ground so I figured it was ok to pick some from the tree.
Crabapple jelly recipe
Soak the fruit in a sink with hot water and about a cup of vinegar. This will lift off any dirt and clean the fruit. Remove any bruised fruit. No need to cut the fruit, just rinse and then place in a heavy based pot. Add just enough water to cover the fruit. Bring to a boil and a rolling simmer for 30 mins. It’s ok if it cooks a bit longer, you just want it soft and for the flavour and pectin to release in the water.
Once it’s cooked set up a strainer over a large bowl and line it with a clean cloth. I used calico but any clean cloth will do. Place a small plate into the strainer to stop the big particles pushing through the cloth. This will result in a clearer jelly. Pour all the crapapples into the strainer and carefully remove the small plate. Don’t gather up the sides of the cloth and squeeze or you will get cloudy jelly. Leave to drain into the bigger bowl overnight. In the morning I had a delicate pink coloured opaque liquid from this batch. I kept mine in the fridge until I was ready to do next step the next day.
At this point instead of continuing with making jelly you could freeze the liquid in 1 cup batches and use as pectin stock later. You will have left over stewed fruit which can be run through a food mill and use like an apple puree.
Back to the recipe – when ready add 1 part crabapple liquid to 0.7 parts sugar. I used 1 cup to just over 2/3 cup sugar. Bring to a hard boil for at least 10 minutes to help it reach setting point. Do the plate test to check if it’s ready. Try to put in the sterilised jars straight away or it will start setting in the pot. If you pour it in down side of jar you won’t get air bubbles in it like I have in the picture below. Preserve by giving the sealed jars a bath for 10 mins then cook and store in dark cupboard. Eat within the year.
And here’s the finished result – crabapple jelly.