August 26, 2013 MMM Foodies
Crabapple Jelly (from trees in the neighborhood)
(Note: this post was originally published August 26, 2013) About this time, last year, I was looking at the crabapple trees in my neighborhood and they were LOADED with fruit. I just hated to see all that fruit hit the ground and rot. The yellow jackets are drawn to the rotting fruit and the smell is kinda bad. Surely, I can come up with something to make with these little apples. Wait, there’s the key: “little apples”! And don’t call me Shirley!
What can I make from apples? Well, there’s a lot of seed and skin to these crabapples, so it’s not going to be apple pie. I tried apple butter and apple sauce, but it was a pain going through the process of running the pulp through a sieve to separate the seeds and skin, but keep the pulp. Capturing the juice though, that was not so bad and that’s what I needed to do for Crabapple Jelly. Success! Despite some looks from my neighbors, I was out picking crabapples, several times. (The trees are on communal property) Last year, I entered about 6 or 7 items into competition at the North Carolina State Fair in Raleigh, NC for the first time. From those entries, I received 2 ribbons! A first place for my pickled cherries and a second place for this jelly. So who’s crazy NOW neighbors!? Ha!
Freshly picked crabapples
While many people don’t know just how good these little gems are, they really are just tiny apples. They aren’t as weird as people think. So, here we are again. The crabapples are ripening and I just made a batch of Red Ribbon Crabapple Jelly. Maybe it will get a blue ribbon this year! The first batch is a little lighter in color than batches made a couple weeks later. The apples are greener and more tart. A “late harvest” batch will have a ruby blush to it from the redder, riper crabapples and will be a bit sweeter.
In addition to the obvious peanut butter and jelly sandwich, crabapple jelly makes a nice meat glaze or addition to barbecue sauces. Try it on crackers or ginger snaps with cream cheese! Basically, anything you would use apple jelly for, you can substitute crabapple jelly. How about an apple flavored cocktail? I’m telling you: this stuff will not go to waste!
I have seen recipes for crabapple jelly with no pectin added, because crabapples are naturally high in pectin. I prefer adding pectin because the juice doesn’t have to boil as long and has a more natural, brighter flavor. I hope you will make this jelly…it’s a winner! Enjoy!
Prepped and ready to go
4 lbs (or a little over) Crabapples
6 tablespoons or 1 box of Pectin
7 cups Granulated Sugar
A few tablespoons fresh or bottled Lemon Juice
1/2 t. butter
Prepare a water bath canner and supplies. Based on my experience, this recipe will make 9-10 jars (1/2 pint). I wound up with 9, plus one 4oz jar. So be prepared. Make sure jars are sanitized and lids are prepared. Also prepare a colander with a few layers of cheese cloth overhanging the edges and put over a stock pot or large bowl to catch the juice.
- Processing crabapples
Take the stems and bottoms off of the crabapples. Keep in a large container with just enough water to cover the crabapples and 1 tablespoon lemon juice to keep them from browning. Drain crabapples. In batches, according to the capacity of your food processor, pulse fruit into coarse chunks. Transfer to a large, wide sauce pan and add enough water to just cover. Add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce heat to a simmer and stir occasionally for about 10 minutes.
Use a low, wide pan.
Use a potato masher to break up big pieces and release juice. Pour crabapples and juice into the colander and allow to drain into pot or bowl. Most recipes say to not squeeze the apple pulp, however, I hate to waste juice. I gather the edges and tie to fashion a cheesecloth bag and allow it to drip for awhile hanging from a kitchen cabinet knob(and I squeeze).
Cooking the crabapples
At this point, measure your juice.
- Draining the juiceMakeshift jelly bag
If necessary, add water to bring up the level to 6 cups. Make sure your canning supplies are ready to go and bring the canner to a boil. Clean the pan you cooked the apples in and put your crabapple juice in the pan. Bring the juice to a boil and add the sugar all at once.
Sugar and pectin
Quickly whisk to dissolve and then add pectin and also whisk to dissolve. Add ½ teaspoon butter to keep foam down. Bring to a rolling boil that doesn’t stir away.
Cooking the juice
Be very careful not to boil over. Move partially off burner, if necessary, for a few seconds, on and off.
Set timer for one minute at this rolling boil. Skim off any foam.
Ladle jelly into sterile jars, leaving ¼” head space. Make sure there are no bubbles and carefully wipe the rims with a damp cloth or paper towel. Place lids on jars and securely screw down the threaded bands. Process the jars in the water bath canner for 10 minutes at a full boil. (If you are at an altitude of more than 1000 square feet, adjust your processing time, if necessary.)
Crabapple Jelly…ready for a rest
Remove jars to a level counter, lined with a kitchen towel, and allow to stand 24 hours. Check seals to insure safety. Remove bands for storage. Any jars that don’t seal properly must be refrigerated and will be the first ones you enjoy!