Friday, 16 December 2011

crab apple jelly

Visiting a local friend recently I was impressed by the abundant crab apples on the tree in the front garden. She confessed to having no time (or inclination) to do anything about them this year and said I was welcome to pick them.

So, last Friday Steve and I went over there equipped with a good supply of plastic carrier bags and spent an hour gathering as much as we could reach. What we brought home filled three big mixing bowls and we still left plenty for the birds and insects to eat.

After washing and picking over I ended up with about 7kg of usable fruit, which I put in pans to simmer.

Making a jelly (as opposed to jam) is new to me, so I spent a bit of time comparing internet recipes and looking at instructions for creating jelly straining bags. I plumped for the recipe on the BBC Food website.

I was quite pleased with the straining device I set up using two chairs, a broom handle and a length of doubled muslin. All the recipes are very adamant that the bag should be left to strain without squeezing in order to avoid clouding of the final jelly. I did experiment a little in my treatment of the fruit in that I mashed one batch to pulp after cooking but before straining it and left the other batch just in its softened, simmered condition. I think the mashed fruit rendered up a bit more juice and I couldn’t see a substantial difference in the end result.

Monday saw me all set to get on with the actual jam-making process. In all I ended up with about 3.5 litres of juice and added sugar in a ratio of 10 parts juice to 6 parts sugar (volumetric measure) as one or two people had commented that the 10:7 ratio in the recipe was a bit too sweet. The juice of one and half lemons also went into the mixture.

Not having a preserving pan, I had to divide the mixture between three large pans. (It’s important to have plenty of headroom in the pan as it has to be brought to and held at a rolling boil for quite some time).

Setting point was achieved relatively quickly. I used an ancient food thermometer that used to belong to my parents and also did the “wrinkle test” with spoonfuls of jelly on very cold saucers. In fact the set was so efficient that when I started potting the preserve a skin had started to form and I managed to get great pre-set blobs in with the still runny jelly, which rather made a mockery of all my attempts to keep the juice completely clear! I ended up with 10 jars of various sizes.

Well it won’t be a prize winner, but it will still be delicious with hot and cold meats and on toast and I may even give away a pot or two.

1 comment:

  1. Ooh, yummy! I adore crab apple jelly. We had a crab apple tree in the garden growing up and of all the jellies and jams my mother made crab apple jelly and blackcurrant jam tied as my favourites. I used to make it myself but haven't been able to find crab apples in ages. I'm sure yours is delicious. Enjoy :D