Wild crab apple trees are a regular feature along Cornwall’s hedgerows. Their pinky-white blossom appears in spring, and by the late summer months the trees are teaming with fruit. A humble and often over-looked fruit, the crab apple is great for cooking with. Sharp and bitter in taste, they don’t make for the best mid-afternoon snack, but they do make incredible preserves. They’re also known for being an excellent source of pectin meaning they’re the perfect fruits for first time jelly-makers.
Try your hand at our delicious crab apple jelly…
You will need
- Wash the apples and remove any bruises and stems
- Put in a saucepan with just enough water to cover the apples, but not enough to make them float
- Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 15 – 30 minutes, or until the apples are soft but not too mushy
- Pour the fruit into several layers of muslin and collect the juice. Drain overnight to ensure you’ve got the most out of your fruit. As tempting as it is, don’t squash down the apples, it’ll result in a foam on top of your juice and could lead to cloudy jelly.
- The next morning, measure the juice and add the caster sugar to the ratio of 10 parts juice to 7 parts sugar, and add your pulp to the compost pile.
- Add a generous squeeze of lemon juice and bring to the boil, stirring continuously until the sugar has dissolved.
- Boil for a further 40 minutes skimming off any froth as it forms – you’ll notice the jelly getting thicker.
- Test the set of the jelly by pouring onto a chilled spoon. When the jelly is ready it will solidify on the back of the spoon.
- When the jelly is ready, pour into warm, sterilised preserving jars and seal while still warm.
- Store in a cool, dark place and enjoy on toast, stirred into a tagine, or straight from the spoon!
Give your jelly a twist of your own – try adding a couple of cinnamon sticks to give it a warming spice, or why not add some sprigs of mint and rosemary and serve with your Sunday lunch, or as an extra addition to your cheeseboard.