I have a crab apple tree. It produces crab apple prolifically. I have a sweet tooth. Crab Apple Jelly is a natural.
I have always used an old fashioned long boil to make my jelly. However, using commercial pectin is easier and more fool proof. Being a fool, I wondered about trying the commercial pectin method. So, I did both. This post is the old long boil method with no commercial pectin added.
Before you start making jelly, you need to know what temperature water boils at the altitude you are located. At sea level, water boils at 100 C (212 F). However, I live in the Canadian Rockies . At higher altitude, water boils at a lower temperature. Where I live, water boils at 96 C (205 F). You will need the boiling point of water later in the recipe. So, boil water and measure the temperature with an instant read thermometer or a jelly thermometer and record it.
I start by deciding how many jars of jelly I want. You need 300 grams (2/3 pound) of crabapples that have had the stem and blossom end cut off to make one jar. You don’t want to make more than six jars as it takes too long for the boil to set the jelly.
I decided I wanted to make six jars so I trimmed the blossom ends off of crab apples and cut them in half until I had 1.8 kilograms (4 pounds) of cut crab apples.
Put the crab apples in a stainless steel or enameled pot. An aluminum or iron pot will react with the jam and spoil it. Put in enough water to just cover the apples.
Bring the crab apples to a boil and boil for 30 minutes, stirring frequently.
Pour the mixture into a jelly bag over a container to catch the juice. I have a fine nylon one. You can also buy cloth ones or you can put several layers of cheese cloth in a large colander.
I tie my bag over a food grade container I use to ferment my home made wine in. Let the bag hang for 8 hours to overnight. Do not squeeze it or you will get cloudy jelly.
Measure the juice. For every 250 ml (1 cup) of juice, measure 150 ml (2/3 cups) of sugar into a separate bowl. For example, if you have 1 liter (4 cups) juice, measure 600 ml (2 2/3 cups) of sugar into a bowl.
Add 15 ml (1 tablespoon) of bottled lemon juice for each cup of juice to the juice.
Put the six jars in a hot water canner and boil them for 10 minutes. Take them out and put them on the counter ready to fill.
Put the lid inserts in hot
Put the juice in a large stainless steel or enameled pot (the jelly will boil up a lot). Bring the juice to a boil. Add the sugar and stir it in. Bring the mixture back to a full boil.
Boil and stir frequently until the temperature of the mixture is 5 degrees centigrade (9 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than the boiling point of water at your altitude. This will be 105 C or 221 F at sea level. For me, it would be 101 C (214 F). This usually takes me about 20 minutes but it will vary with the heat output of your stove and the amount you are making.
I like to make sure the jelly has reached a soft gel stage and keep a plate in the freezer. When the jelly reaches temperature, I turn the heat to medium low and put a spoonful of jelly on the plate. I put it back in the fridge for a moment. I take it out and pull my finger tip through the jelly. If it doesn’t flow together, it is done.
This last step is likely not necessary. I have never had it not gel when I measure the temperature but I am coward.
Remove the jelly from the heat and skim off any foam that forms with a metal spoon.
Fill the jars to 6 mm (1/4 inch) from the top. Wipe the rim clean. Put a lid insert on the jar and tighten just with your fingertips.
Put the jars on the canner rack and back into the boiling water. The water will come off the boil. Return the water to the boil. If your elevation is under 300 meters (1100 feet) boil the jars for 5 minutes. If your elevation is higher, boil the jars for 15 minutes.
Remove the jars and stand upright on a counter. Let sit for 24 hours. The lids should pop down and be concave if you have a good seal. If any jar lid does not curl down and is still curved up, use that jar immediately. The rest of the jars can be stored in a cool dark place for up to a year.
This makes a great crab apple jelly. It has a great flavour, a deep red colour and just the right balance of sweet and tart. I have always liked this recipe.
The Old Fat Guy