September is the season for crab apples. What better way to use them than to make a crystal clear pink jelly, perfect with lamb dishes and also with cheese. Crab apples are high in pectin so you don’t need to add any, and ordinary granulated sugar will do. The recipe I use is so easy, here it is:
4lb crab apples – washed and dried
2 pints of water – just to cover the apples in a large pan
Sugar at the rate of 1lb per pint of juice (see method)
Bring the pan to a boil and simmer until the apples have cooked to a pulp and the liquid has reduced by a quarter to a third. This will take around 40 to 60 minutes. Strain the fruit in a jelly bag over a basin – be patient and do not squeeze the bag or you will have cloudy jelly! While this is dripping away, pop a couple of plates you’re your freezer to test setting point later.
Measure the juice and put back into the cleaned pan with 1lb of sugar per pint of juice. Heat the mixture slowly until the sugar melts, stirring all the time. Once the sugar has melted, bring it to the boil and simmer until setting point is reached. Depending on how dry your fruit was to start with and how much water has evaporated, this could take 10-30 minutes.
While this is happening, put your oven on low and heat up your clean jam jars.
When things start to thicken, grab a plate from the freezer and drop a teaspoonful of jelly onto it. When setting point is reached, a skin will form over the top after a minute which will crinkle when you push your finger into it. If there’s no crinkle, keep boiling away for another 5 minutes before testing again. I prefer this method to using a thermometer, but if you have one then setting point should be reached at around 220 degrees Fahrenheit or 105 degrees Celsius (but I would still also test on a plate!).
Now turn your heat off and let things rest for 10 minutes or so and bring the jars out of the oven. Pour the jelly into the jars with the aid of a jug and a large funnel and pop the lids on while hot. I don’t use waxed discs and have never had a problem. Wipe the jars down and label them when cold and then store in a cool, dark cupboard.
- An apron is essential. And keep a wiping cloth handy.
- A shop bought straining set is worth getting hold of.
- Hot jelly will scald – be careful!