When I was a kid, we had a crab apple tree in our yard. My mom used to make jelly using those crab apples. She made all kinds of jams, jellies and spreads. Crab apple jelly was my personal favorite.
I’d never made it as an adult but having recently had a milestone birthday (the big 5-0!), I’ve been feeling a bit nostalgic and decided to indulge my craving for crab apple jelly. The first challenge? Getting crab apples. Problem solved. All I had to do was post on Facebook, ‘does anyone have some crab apples I can forage?’ My friend Hilary came through.
Here’s how to make crab apple jelly. All you need is 4 cups of crab apple juice (about 3 pounds of crab apples and 3 cups of water) and 4 cups of sugar.
I like to pull the leaves and stems off the crab apples and cut off any bad spots. Then I place in a saucepan with 3 cups of water.
Next cook until the crab apples are soft.
To make the juice, you need to press or squeeze the crab apples. Cheese cloth and a fine mesh colander work really well.
Now you’ve got juice!
Crab apples are really, really tart so you won’t need pectin to make it gel. The other thing that I like about making jelly is that you just need to put the jelly in hot, sterilized jars. No need for hot water baths or other canning techniques. You’ll want to shoot for a one cup of apple juice to one cup of sugar (1:1) ratio.
Add your juice and sugar to the pot to get started.
Tip: use a candy thermometer to get the jell temperature just right. Water boils at 212F so you want to go for just slightly higher than that for your jelly.
You can also use a spoon to check to make sure your jelly is ready. The jelly will ‘sheet’ and drops that come off the spoon will just hang off the edge of the spoon. Like this.
Once you’re sure your jelly is ready, ladle into hot jars. Top with lids and rings and just wait for that satisfying ‘thunk’ that happens when your jars seal.
I hope you try making jelly. It’s really easy and so satisfying on toast – in the middle of winter – long after the memories of fresh fruit and warm weather months have passed.
Oh, and it’s pretty too!
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