Easily transform those overly tart backyard crab apples into the most delicious Crab Apple Jelly! All you needs is crab apples, water, and sugar!
The first summer we owned our home, we were excited to discover a crab apple tree in the backyard. We patiently waited until early September and picked all of the crab apples we could.
I spent all afternoon washing them, and chopping them. Before long, it was too late in the day start making jelly. The weekend was over and it was back to work in the morning. I placed the prepared crab apples in large Ziploc bags and stashed them in the freezer. My intention was to make jelly the following weekend.
Months later, the frozen crab apples went into the compost. This summer, however, I was determined to not let that happen again. Here is the result of our first Crab Apple Jelly endeavour!
ALL CRAB APPLES ARE EDIBLE!
It’s true! Red, pink, green, purple – no matter the colour or the size, if it’s a crab apple, you can eat it. Now, I would not recommend you pull a crab apple off a tree and start munching. Crab apples in their raw state are very tart. They can also be very hard and tough to chew.
Even though most of us think that crab apples are just ornamental in nature, you can turn those little fruits into a delicious jam or jelly.
They may be small and tart, but you can make some amazing recipes with the fruit of a crab apple tree. Exceptionally high pectin and acid content, they are ideal for jelly. And when you cook them, the apple flavour intensifies, so you get a very apple-y jelly as a result.
HOW TO TELL IF A CRAB APPLE IS RIPE:
I must have tested the crab apples on our tree every couple of days for about a month. Throughout summer they were very green with a blush pink colour on the tops. Overnight, the colour deepened to a beautiful Christmas red.
It’s at that stage that you’ll want to pay attention to the ripening. Every day or two, pick a few crab apples from the tree. Don’t pick them from the same branch. Walk around the tree to take a sample from varies branches.
With a sharp knife, cut directly through the center of the apple. Once you do, you’ll want to pay close attention to the seeds. If the seeds are white in the center and the exterior, the crab apples are not ripe enough.
When the seeds turn to an off white colour in the center, but have a dark brown skin, then the apples are ready to be harvested. In my case, the skins on the seeds turned from white to dark brown over a period of five or six days.
HOW TO EAT CRAB APPLE JELLY
This might seem rather obvious, right? The go-to for crab apple jelly is to smear it lightly on toast. It’s also really good on freshly baked scones! But you can use it in other ways as well.
Because you have essentially stripped away all of that tartness and replaced it with an intense, sweet apple flavour, it will work very well in desserts or in savoury dishes too. Try it stirred into yogurt or vanilla ice cream. It’s really good sandwiched between two cakes like my Jam Filled Vanilla Layer Cake.
I’ve not yet tried it, but I’ve read that it’s really good with meat too. Try it with roasted pork or lamb. Or try substituting this year’s cranberry sauce with Crab Apple Jelly with turkey! How will you use your new stash of jelly? I’d love to hear from you!
Crab Apple Jelly
- 10 125 ml mason jars with screw bands and new, unused sealing discs.
- Pressure Canner
- Jar Wrench/Lifter
- Canning Funnel
- Non-metallic Bubble Remover
- Magnetic Lid Lifter
- Candy Thermometer
- 6 pounds crab apples
- 6 cups sugar
- 6 cups water
- Wash crab apples well. Remove stems and discard. Trim the blossom end and discard. Cut each crab apple in half across the center.
- Add the prepared crab apples and water to a large pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce and simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and use a potato masher to mash the apples. Don't over-mash, just break the apples up a bit.
- Next, strain the mixture through a double layer of cheesecloth. Don't force the liquid through. Allow it to seep through slowly. Let the mixture strain for 2-3 hours.
- While the jelly is straining, wash the mason jars and screw lids in soapy water and rinse soap off well under running hot water. Place clean jars on a baking sheet and place in oven preheated to 200 degrees. Set screw bands aside. Next, boil a kettle of water and pour into a clean glass bowl. Carefully submerge the sealing discs in the bowl of hot water. Set aside.
- Discard the solids and transfer the juice to a clean pot. Add the sugar and stir. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Cook until the jelly reaches a temperature of 220 degrees Fahrenheit. You can use a candy thermometer to test the temperature.
- Using a canning funnel, fill the jars leaving 3/4 inch head space. Wipe down the rim of each jar with a damp paper towel to ensure none of the jelly has come in contact with the rim.
- Carefully remove the sealing discs from the hot water with a magnetic lid lifter. Position the sealing disc directly onto the lid of the jars. Do not touch the underside of the lid.
- Screw on the screw bands until firm – do not apply pressure! Just use your fingertips to tighten the screw bands.
- Next, prepare your pressure canner according to the instructions for your particular brand, make, or model.
- Using the jar lifter, place the jars into the canner and place the lid on securely.
- Process for 20 minutes using a 10 pound (69 kPa) weighted gauge. Be sure to adjust pressure for your altitude if over 1000 feet. Time the processing from the time the canner has reached full pressure. Once done, turn off the heat and allow canner to de-compress naturally.
- Carefully remove each jar from the canner using the jar lifter. Do not tilt the jars or try to wipe them dry. Place jars onto a wire cooling rack that has been covered with a clean kitchen towel.
- Leave the jars to cool for a minimum of 12 hours. Once cooled, wipe the jars of any residue that might have been transferred to the outside of the jar during the boiling process. Label the jars and store in a dark, cool cabinet.