Over the summer I had numerous offers of crab apples but was too sick to go picking or venture into the kitchen. I thought I’d missed my chance to make apple jellies this year but the crab apple trees dotted around the business park where I work are an Autumn variety and as the leaves began to fall from the trees the tiny cherry like apples started to turn from red to orange. I unburdened the branches of 3kg of crab apples at the end of November and finally got round to tackling my haul last week.
I love the simplicity of making jellies as there’s so little preparation involved. Using apples as a base for a jelly is brilliant because you don’t even have to use the whole fruit. With eating or cooking apples you can use the leftover scraps (cores and peelings, which is where the greatest amount of pectin is found) from apples destined for finer things. In this instance apart from removing the stalks and twigs the crab apples were left whole and once softened I just bashed them with a potato masher to release as much juice from the fruit as possible.
Plain crab apple jelly is a beautiful pink colour but has limited use for me as a vegetarian so I strained off just a couple of jars and added dried mint and balsamic vinegar to the rest of the syrupy liquid.
My Mint Jelly didn’t set as well as previous batches so I’m calling it ‘Apple and Mint Jelly Sauce‘. I may have been a bit heavy handed with the mint but then that’s how I like it! Here’s a picture from last year for how enticing it looks as a thicker set jelly …
If you’d like to experiment with jelly making then I follow Pam Corbin’s guidance in the River Cottage Preserves Handbook. Pam’s general rule of thumb seems to be:
Add 600ml water per 1kg fruit.
Add 450g sugar per 600ml strained fruit liquid.
I’ve been steadily emptying the freezer of fruit to make way for the batches of soup, casserole and bolognese sauce I hope to make in anticipation of baby’s arrival. So the shelves are now restocked with Damson Jam and Raspberry Vinegar as well.
ps. the baby arrived and I made no soup, casserole or bolognese sauce in preparation! (G was affectionately calling me a hippo-poto-whale by that time so you can imagine how uncomfortable it was to move around).