Thursday, September 15, 2011

Crabapple Jelly

The crab apple tree in front of the house is full of fruit this year.  I've been kicking the ones that fall off the tree down the slate walk for a couple of weeks already.  It was high time I did something with them, because it's been a good year.  Some years end up being so-so, but this year we had a bumper crop.  It would have been a shame to let them go to waste.

Armed with a ladder, and wearing a pareo (because it was cloyingly hot) and sandals with 3" heels, ('cause those were beside the front door and didn't involve laces), I'm sure I was a sight to behold.  Something like "The Housewives of Beverly Hills" meets "Green Acres", starring yours truly.  I picked about 3 kg of crab apples.  That ended up being a whole lot of crab apples to quarter and stem.  Since we don't spray our fruit trees, the crab apples are imperfect, and I tried to be as diligent as possible in cutting out any softened or bug-infested parts.  (That's also my way of saying there could have been a worm or two in the pot.  I'm sure the heat killed them).

3 kilos is a lot of crab apples:

They're barely bigger than cherries!  Here I am, my hands wrinkled from the water, holding three of the largest specimens.  I'm nearing the end of my batch, wondering if it will ever end.   When I checked for a recipe on-line, my first go-to site for canning is always the Bernardin website.  It says 2.5 kg of crab apples are about 56.  I don't know if those come from Three Mile Island, but I must have picked closer to 256 to make that amount.

Once quartered, stemmed and with the bloom removed, I added 5 cups of water to the pot.  In retrospect, I should have added more:

I let this mixture boil for about 10 minutes, and then simmered it for about 10 minutes more, stirring it frequently to prevent scorching.  The apples broke down a lot.  Some recipes say to use a potato masher to break down the fruit further, but I didn't find it necessary.

I lined a colander with a clean muslin cloth, and dumped the whole mixture in.  I think I ended up with about 4 cups of juice the next morning, because I needed to add about 1 cup of water to make the 5 cups of juice necessary to make the jelly.  Another Canadian Living recipe said I could, okay?  I added 7 cups of sugar, and one pack of liquid pectin, following the instructions that came in the Certo box.  (And can you tell I'm making all of this up as I go along?)  Flying by the seat of my pareo is my specialty.

On the CL website, someone commented to use slightly under-ripe apples, as these contained more pectin  but less water.  This might have accounted for me having to add a bit of water to make up the difference.  I did some google-fu and couldn't corroborate this information, but I'm running with it anyhow.

In the end, I made 8 - 250 mL (half pint) jars of pretty pink crab apple jelly:

It's nice to be able to create something with a bit lot of elbow grease and a bit lot of sugar, and some patience and time thrown into the mix.

I'm sure the pareo and heels didn't hurt, either.


Robin said...

Those are absolutely beautiful jars of crab apple jelly! I can't say that I have ever tasted that sort of jelly before. Do you like it? I tend not to be a big jelly or jam eater but I do love homemade blackberry jam. I'm thinking if I can find some time I might go picking and try for some of that this year.

I had to look up a pareo because I didn't know what it was. How funny! All you needed were some pearls on to complete the picture, or a glass of wine in one hand. :)

I've been to the garden several times this summer in lingerie. When it's bloody hot and it dark outside I figure who cares! Besides...doesn't everyone do their canning in small clothes. hehe

Shepherd's Loft said...

Jelly looks lovely, Ann. That's a lot of work (and Love) along with the sugar that filled those jars.

Shim Farm said...

Robin, I'm honestly not nuts about jams and jellies, but I did get used to the Seville marmalade pretty fast! The flavour is like a tart apple, but a bit floral as well. Mainly, I give them away, but I might be tempted to crack one open and give it a try.

LOL, yeah, me and my pareo. I found this scarf at our Canadian version of TJ Maxx...and one one sweltering day, decided it could double as a skirt while wearing a tank-top. I have worn that thing in so many permutations this past summer, that it was the best 15 bucks I've spent in a long time...

I go out in the garden in various stages of undress also, but I draw the line at canning! Give me a Nomex suit for that LOL!

Shim Farm said...

Linda, thanks for your comment! Yes, lots of love and lots of work LOL! Hopefully the skin on my index finger and thumb will grow back soon. This canning season has been brutal on my hands.

Sid said...

I used to make crabapple jelly from an 'ornamental' Crabapple tree. The apples were about as big as large cherry. But, I would also use the juice as a base for other jellies, and never added pectin, cause the one time I did, you could slice the jelly, it set so hard. I love the taste of the jelly, and gotta say I miss that old tree.

Shim Farm said...

Hi Sid, thanks for stopping by! The crabapple jelly is getting rave reviews. I'm not such a jelly person myself, so I pass on it, but everyone's told me it's fabulous. I was expecting it to set up hard, but the consistency is good, the cup of water I added to my original juice probably kept it from setting too hard.

And there's something to be said about the beauty of a flowering crabapple tree!

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